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Dole: 'Laconic'? Kemp: 'Garrulous'? Time for a New Cliche!

August 18, 1996|Bruce McCall | Bruce McCall is a regular contributor to the New Yorker

WASHINGTON, CONN. — Aide: Laconic Bob Dole, garrulous Jack Kemp--gents, we gotta nip your adjectival cliches in the bud. They're already sticking to you guys like Krazy Glue, and we got research that says 62% of Americans don't even know what "laconic" or "garrulous" mean! We need more than just synonyms. We need word clusters that become selling messages. As your whirl surgeon--

Dole: Whirl surgeon?

Aide: Classy, huh? My new synonym for "spin doctor," which has more negatives just now than "inner-city welfare crack addict."

Dole: Terrific.

Kemp: See, Bob, there you go being laconic again!

Dole: Oh, Mr. Garrulous Can't-Shut-Up Kemp doesn't approve of--

Kemp: Listen, Voice of Doom, I'd rather be the Garrulous Gridiron Golden Boy from the Niagara Frontier than Old Acid-Mouth any day--

Aide: Bob, Indian names are terrific. How about we blitz the media with "Bob Dole, the Silver-mouthed Eagle from the Plains?"

Kemp: Eagles have beaks. "Silver-beaked Buzzard from Kansas?" First down, goal to go!

Dole: Jayhawk's the Kansas bird, motor-mouth. Or should I say, "Rust-Belt Rasputin"?

Aide: Please, gents! Now Jack, does "Lanky, Loose-Limbed, Loquacious Lawmaker" do anything for you?

Kemp: Hey, I'm not Jimmy Stewart in "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town." How's about "The Buffalo Spellbinder"?

Dole: Sounds like a newspaper--except newspapers eventually run out of words and you never do.

Aide: "Dry, wry Bob Dole." Or "The Tart-Tongued Kansas Tornado."

Kemp: Tornadoes don't have tongues. Especially not forked ones. How about "The Bad-Mouthing Blowhard from No-where?" Smack between the up-rights!

Dole: Blowhard? Last time you stopped to take a breath, Grecian Formula Man of the Year, the barometer fell 30 points.

Aide: "Bob Dole, Scalpel-Witted Statesman-Farmer."

Dole: Uh-uh. "Scalpel" reminds voters of Medicare cuts.

Kemp: I told you, Bob--cut taxes another 30% and there'll be so many rich people, nobody will need Medicare! Touchdown!

Dole: And I told you, Jack--keep your nut-ball, funny-money theories between you and your Monopoly board.

Aide: I got it! "Un-Jack Kemp-Like Bob Dole" and "Un-Bob Dole-Like Jack Kemp!" Says nothing, but seems to say everything! Perfect politics!

Dole: Sold.

Kemp: Sold. Now let's go eat. Chinese OK?

Dole: Sure. Nice dish of communist totalitarian slave-state food.

Kemp: Italian?

Dole: They vote Democrat. Kansas steak.

Kemp: Buffalo chicken wings.


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