On Nincompoop

Being familiar with the word nincompoop is probably more of a sign of one’s age than of being up to on the latest linguistics. Nonetheless, there is nothing wrong with reminiscing the world of words.

To my surprise, nincompoop is an official word – thus not slang – so here are a few official definitions:

  • a fool or simpleton
  • a stupid person; fool; idiot
  • a silly, foolish, or stupid person
  • one deficient in judgment and good sense

The great American orator Mo Howard even used some of the following nincompoop’s synonyms: ass, blockhead, boob, clod, coot, cuckoo, ding-a-ling, dingbat, ding-dong, dip, dipstick, dolt, doofus, dope, dork, dweeb, dumbass, dunce, fathead, fool, goof, half-wit, idiot, imbecile, jackass, jerk, lummox, lunatic, moron, nerd, ninny, nitwit, numbskull, numskull, nut, nutcase, oaf, peckerhead, plonker, schmo, schmuck, simpleton, turkey, witling, and yo-yo.

The British throw in berk, charley, charlie, git, nit, plank, pillock, and thicko. Other languages add fjols (Danish), uilskuiken (Dutch), nigaud (French), trottel (German), sempliciotto (Italian), mentecato (Spanish), numpty (Scotish), and dumhuvud (Swedish).

As one can imagine, nincompoop’s etymology and history brings forth more information.

  • Latin’s non compos mentis, not a sound mind, is a legal phrase
  • French ne comprend pas means “he does not understand.”
  • In his 1676 play The Plain Dealer, British playwright William Wycherley has one character calling another a “senseless, impertinent, quibbling, drivelling, feeble, paralytic, impotent, fumbling, frigid nincompoop.”

Now we know more about nincompoop – and yes, timely with the words of Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan who recently referred to Sarah Palin as a nincompoop. Given the information above, her word choice seems appropriate. Besides, Sarah Palin continues to champion nincompoopery – the characteristic actions of a nincompoop.

On Election Results from Conservatives

As Election Day 2010 is a week past, Democrats are trying to keep their wounded head high while many Republicans are thumping their chest. On the other hand, I see the results as a warning to both sides as a mandate for sensible governance over both the bully pulpit and intentional obstructionism.

Instead of focusing on the partisan rhetoric delivered by various GOP leaders and self-anointed spokespersons, here are the words of notable conservative columnists to support my point.

Nor should Republicans overinterpret their Tuesday mandate. They received none. They were merely rewarded for acting as the people’s proxy in saying no to Obama’s overreaching liberalism. As one wag put it, this wasn’t an election so much as a restraining order. The Republicans won by default. And their prize is nothing more than a two-year lease on the House. The building was available because the previous occupant had been evicted for arrogant misbehavior and, by rule, alas, the House cannot be left vacant.

Charles Krauthhamer

Mr. Obama has a far better product to sell than Tea Partiers like Mr. DeMint. But Mr. Obama needs to connect better with American voters. He needs to lose the cool and start sweating — and slugging. If he can do that, and if the economy comes back over the next couple of years, he can still be remembered as one of our great presidents. One who served two terms.

Nicholas Kristof

On many of these fronts, Congressional Republicans will protest that there’s nothing to be done so long as Barack Obama occupies the White House. Hence Boehner’s calculated attempt to lower expectations; hence Mitch McConnell’s insistence that the most important thing Republicans can do is work toward the president’s defeat in 2012.

But even if they’re right, that’s all the more reason to spend the next two years getting serious about policy. It will profit neither conservatism nor the country if Republicans take the White House two Novembers hence, and find themselves as unprepared to govern as they are today.

Russ Douthat

The point is not “He (Ronald Reagan) was a great man and you (Sarah Palin) are a nincompoop,” though that is true. The point is that Reagan’s career is a guide, not only for the tea party but for all in politics. He brought his fully mature, fully seasoned self into politics with him. He wasn’t in search of a life when he ran for office, and he wasn’t in search of fame; he’d already lived a life, he was already well known, he’d accomplished things in the world.

Here is an old tradition badly in need of return: You have to earn your way into politics. You should go have a life, build a string of accomplishments, then enter public service. And you need actual talent: You have to be able to bring people in and along. You can’t just bully them, you can’t just assert and taunt, you have to be able to persuade.

Americans don’t want, as their representatives, people who seem empty or crazy. They’ll vote no on that. It’s not just the message, it’s the messenger.

Peggy Noonan

On Random Post-Election Thoughts

On the Two-Way Street
Rightfully so, many are wondering how well President Obama will work with House Republicans, but I also ask one addition question: How well will House Republicans will work with President Obama?

On Mr. Boehner’s Job
In my own warped view, I feel sorry for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), the one who presumably has the task of leading the GOP Civil War. It will be interesting to see how he manages the divisions in his party, and working with President Obama.

On the other hand, Mr. Boehner is already using the results to suggest a mandate for GOP policies. In his WSJ opinion, Senator DeMint (R-SC) drew a line in the sand for the Tea Party members. Senator McConnell’s has well publicized that ousting President Obama in 2012 is his top priority. Warning: Independents will not buy that product.

On My Take
My suggestion of governing from the center is throughout this blog. Nevertheless, the overlapping center of the two parties no longer exists, which leads to an all-or-nothing approach.

Republicans say Democrats would not listen; Democrats say Republicans would not play. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure that problem – yet America re-elected the majority of incumbents seeking a return to Washington.

President Obama campaigned about bridging the dividing, hence one reason how he captured the majority of independents. Whether by choice, necessity, haste, or simply the way Washington works, he did not deliver – thus Tuesday’s results.

Contrary to what many believe, we pragmatics believe that voters elect presidents to lead a nation – not lead a party. Although a political ideology frames any elected official, a president needs to know when to shove, when to compromise, and when to give way. Heaven forbid if Capitol Hill did the same. Therefore, unless their is an unexpected significant event that brings the nation together, the next two years could be ugly.

On Election Day 2010 Tidbits

With Election Day 2010 upon us, here are some random shorts.

First, and most importantly, I hope you exercise your right to vote.

I think the Republicans will gain control of at least chamber – getting both is a longer shot, but possible. Nonetheless, I wonder how much stalemate lies ahead.

I look forward to the press conferences tonight and over the next few days. I can hear the lines already: America has spoken. The voters want a change. The American public has corrected the direction. We know what the people have said they want. Blah, blah, blah … Did we hear the same in 2008?

I remain convinced that politicians slogan is “party above country.” Proof lies in Senator Mitch McConnell recent statement, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

As Republicans jump for joy about gaining support from independents, here’s what they don’t know. Independent moderates vote against a party, not for one. Independent moderates vote parties out, not vote parties in. In other words, the odds of the winners misreading the results are great – just as stated in the previous paragraph.

For anyone needing to know more about the mindset of independent moderates, see this past post. Pew Research Center published this study in September about independents and partisans.

Democrats misread the nation in 2008, and I am confident that the Republicans will miss read us in 2010. After all, the GOP thinks the public is only mad at Democrats.

Some Tea Party candidates will win. I will be interested to see how it unfolds. Will they stand-pat on their ideals and then buck the GOP; or will they cave in to GOP pressure and conform? How will GOP leadership calm the turbulent in-house waters? Will they be one-termers?

Regardless of the results, if the politicians were serious about change, the party would elect different leaders. Names like Pelosi, Boehner, Reid, and McConnell would be out on both sides. So would their lieutenants. I know – I’m dreaming – although Nevada voters seem headed toward taking care of one of the problems – but I shake my head at their replacement.

Here are a few good reads about Election 2010.

On a Tea Party Mask

The Tea Party is an interesting mixture of folks. I am confident that many are very educated, so I am not going to call them stupid or ignorant. Many are good, everyday people who are understandably rejecting the cesspool of Washington politics. The latest Democratic control has put them over the edge enough that they are voicing their concerns.

The Tea Party has also attracted its share of from the fridge. Equivalent to the anarchists of the left, these people are the ones linking President Obama to Nazism, Fascism, Socialism, Communism, and what other negative –ism they can muster. “Birthers” also fit here. I try to ignore many of them just as I do the anarchists.

Listening to comments by Christine O’Donnell, Rahn Paul, Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Sharron Angle, and others gives me a glimpse of their social conservatism activism, something that the Tea Party does not include on their platform. Could social conservatives be using the Tea Party to push their agenda? Is the Tea Party being hijacked?

With religious fundamentals as one common theme (but not the only), and coupling it with various versions of fear mongering, is this group a coalition between a rejuvenated Moral Majority of Jerry Falwell with the reincarnated Red Scare of Senator Joe McCarthy?