the news is in…

January 10, 2007

it took a while, but the reviews from yesteday’s salad are starting to pour in. here’s one from expatriates in Turkey, “pretentious comentary which makes one neat point.”  ok, that’s really the only review. (oh, and as long as i’m being accused of being pretentious…) misspelling in the original.

congratulations to cate edwards and the rest of the Harvard 1Ls on finishing their finals. maybe cate will now have time to extend her urbanista knowledge to the Cambridge area. as anyone whose been to my apartment can attest, my place is a bit sparse and can use some decorating advice. we hear at the salad also appreciate tips on christmas card design (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, just ask jeeves. we *rarely* post smut here at Yesterday’s Salad).

in case you haven’t noticed, i’ve compiled a word of the day index which i’ll update every few days. now on with todays word.

feuilleton: “In French newspapers (or others in which the French custom is followed), a portion of one or more pages (at the bottom) marked off from the rest of the page by a rule, and appropriated to light literature, criticism, etc.; an article or work printed in the feuilleton.”

what’s the deal with words? up until today I’d seen feuilleton and feuilletonist twice in my life, and, all of a sudden, i see it 4 times in a day. most of these were in reference to Herzl, who in addition to being a monorail enthusiast, was a good old-fashioned fin-de-siecle dandy (ala kafka)  who liked to ridicule arthur schintzler’s fashion sense, and dreamt about literally out-dueling anti-Semitism (JSTOR subscription required) at his German dueling fraternity, was the Paris correspondent and feuilletonist extraordinaire at the Vienna Neue Freie Presse (whew).

why bring this up? check out this quote from the OED: “1892 Nation 16 June 452/3 He writes a feuilleton on current musical topics for the Vienna Neue Freie Presse.”

could it be Theodore Herzl? well, unlikely, although I have the books here to check if I really wanted to. still, it is interesting considering his famed feuilletonism (aptitude for writing feuilletons), and history with the paper.

as for the philology, the word enters english in the mid-19th century. since then, it’s been intermittantly italicized as a loan word and printed normally as a standard english word. etymologically, the word comes from the french “feuillet, dim. of feuille leaf.” english has actually absorded those words too. “feuille” is a shade of light green (the leaf meaning is now obsolete) and feuillet-1 is “A half-hogshead,” which is a measure of wine, (apparently from the French feuillette) and feuillet-2 is a very technical term in diamond cutting. btw, the wordpress spellcheck recognizes none of these words. this is actually surprising considering feuilleton’s expanded meaning in American. according to the AHD the term can be used for almost any lighthearted literary endeavor.

perhaps to add to this blog’s pretension we should refer to ourselves as feuilletonists.

The McCain Trap

January 10, 2007

Tonight, President Bush will publicly make his case for escalation in Iraq and many in the pundit class are talking about this move as a last ditch effort to save a floundering presidency and win in Iraq. Given his anemic approval numbers, the Democratic majorities in congress, and the fact that in a little more than two years someone else will be living on Pennsylvania Ave, it is hard to see how the president can resuscitate his waning power. After six years, the American people have mostly made up their minds about Mr. Bush. And as for the war, this sounds mostly like an effort to extend the war for another friedman.

That is not to say, however, that this decision is not of great importance. Clearly it is of pressing concern for the 20,000 soldiers and their families. It could also be very dangerous policy-wise, if the new thinking is that continually sending new troops over will assure us of victory; the likely result of which being more broken lives and a broken military. Politically, this strategy will have significant ramifications, particularly for Senator John McCain as he seeks the presidency. The war is overwhelmingly unpopular with voters as whole, but McCain needs to remain supportive of the president as he gears up for a potentially difficult primary. Should the war continue to be unpopular into the general election (and there is little reason to assume it will not), McCain may be placed squarely in a no-win scenario.

To win the nomination, he must support the Bush Administration, but the more he does so, the harder he makes it to win the general election; a race that could be tough for any Republican to win 2008. McCain’s solution appears to be to criticize Bush for not being hawkish enough, but will that strategy bear fruit? McCain is no doubt hoping that he can maintain the support of the Republican base while creating plausible deniability with the general electorate (”If I had been president, then things would be different in Iraq…”). The war is unpopular, however, and people rarely like more of an unpopular thing. Furthermore, criticizing Bush at all–even from the right–may serve only to reinforce the caricature of McCain as a self-absorbed grandstander who is more interested in self-promotion than supporting his party. By attempting to satisfy all voters, McCain’s gambit may backfire and leave his campaign mortally wounded before it really gets off the ground.

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