Just a few more weeks and we’ll be free of the epic discomfiture that has been the 2016 presidential campaign. Here are ten things we should hope to never hear or see again:
10) “Move the needle.” The worn out phrase is employed when commentators tell us that debates, speeches and news developments mean basically nothing. It’s punditry’s favorite cop out, only used when things don’t move the needle.
9) “I take full responsibility.” Political-speak for “I will not take responsibility.”
8) Paul Begala. Taking over the title of Most Annoying Paid Advocate, previously held by the husband-wife team of James Carville and Mary Matalin, Begala’s appearances on CNN underscore why having surrogates share the stage with bonafide news reporters is a terrible idea. And CNN has a raft of such hangers-on including Trump apologists Jeffery Lord and Kayleigh McEnany.
7) “Pivot.” It’s a useful word on the basketball court and the dance floor. In politics it’s time for analysts to pivot to another term.
6) “Hit.” Trump gets the blame for promoting the notion that campaigning is a martial art: “When I’m hit I hit back harder.” Alas, throughout the ‘16 campaign, commentators and candidates embraced the expression, tossing politics to the mat.
5) Sean Hannity. No one in media soiled himself as badly with Trump’s campaign as the Fox host, who unabashedly gave over his entire nightly show to promoting a single candidate. Sadly, it came at a time when outstanding journalists Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace were making enormous progress toward removing the stench from the Fox brand.
4) Instant polls. Even after Trump took advantage of online polls that are easily manipulated by campaign staff and supporters, many reputable news organizations continued to conduct them. Legitimate polls have become tedious enough, fake polls are a misleading waste. 3) “Prosecute.” Funny, isn’t it, how pundits on competing networks latch on to each other’s lingo? Even a perfectly reasonable word like prosecute, fine when used in a court of law, quickly becomes overused and grating in the political world. “She didn’t really prosecute the case against him on the tax issue.” Blah, blah.
2) Old Glory. Trump set some kind of record for the number of American flags squeezed into a single TV shot. Even Michelle Obama gave a stump speech in front of a flag that seemed as huge as the ones that require 100 guys to unfurl on a football field. Patriotism isn’t measured by the size or number of flags.
1) Countdown clocks! Nothing, not Trump’s sniffling or Clinton’s cackling, was as annoying as the cable-TV countdown clocks. And remember, there are only 2.1 million minutes until the 2020 election.
Peter Funt is a writer and speaker