The Every day Satan’s Dictionary has been a function of Honest Observer for greater than three years. According to Honest Observer’s coverage of crowd-sourced journalism, now we have up to now expressed the hope that some new contributors, impressed by our instance, could also be incited to suggest an article that follows the identical format. We preserve an open invitation to anybody motivated by the potential ambiguity of language introduced within the media.
Each entry within the Every day Satan’s Dictionary goals to supply sufficient circumstantial, cultural and historic context to deepen our notion of the which means behind the phrases and phrases glossed. Sometimes, we cite well-known public figures but in addition journalists and numerous media personalities.
Texas: The Finish of Genuine America?
At the moment’s presumably involuntary contributor, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, has made a number of appearances in these columns (for instance, right here, right here, right here and right here.) At the moment, nevertheless, it’s the first time Pompeo is the one who gives an unique definition of a phrase he himself seems to take pleasure in utilizing. He provided this astonishing definition in a tweet with the hashtag #swagger.
In right now’s Every day Satan’s Dictionary definition, we quote Secretary Pompeo verbatim:
To symbolize America with pleasure, humility, and professionalism. We’ve achieved it.
Contextual Be aware
Alas, Mike Pompeo might have missed the purpose made by Ambrose Bierce and even of his predecessor, Dr. Samuel Johnson, the creator of the very critical dictionary of the English language. Johnson sought to account for the complete breadth of the English language in a basically scientific strategy to his sources. He nonetheless understood that some definitions and redefinitions require a contact of irony to disclose the true secrets and techniques of their significance. For instance, Dr. Johnson gave the definition of “luncheon” — a comparatively new idea on the very second of historical past that noticed the culinary innovation of the Earl of Sandwich — as “as a lot meals as one’s hand can maintain.”
Extra intently associated to Pompeo’s occupation, Johnson outlined the phrase “politician” as initially “one versed within the arts of presidency.” He nonetheless felt impelled so as to add a second which means: “a person of artifice; one in every of deep contrivance.” As the previous director of the CIA, Pompeo knew one thing in regards to the artwork of contrivance. In 2019, he defined the type of radical contrivance he was expert at when he confessed, to resounding applause, that, as CIA director, he “cheated, lied and stole.”
The issue, in distinction to Johnson and Bierce, is that Pompeo appears resistant to irony. His definition of “swagger” reveals what seems to be a complete absence of irony in his thought processes. He even fails to acknowledge the implicit irony that turns into evident as quickly as an official definition of swagger is evoked, just like the one provided by Merriam Webster’s of the verb kind: “to conduct oneself in an conceited or superciliously pompous method, particularly: to stroll with an air of overbearing self-confidence.”
Pompeo equates the dictionary’s “superciliously pompous method” and “overbearing self-confidence” with “humility and professionalism.” This sort of inversion of which means gives the important thing to understanding what many highly effective politicians consider about their very own actions: that their obsequious service to energy is a manifestation of non-public humility. They fail to see that what they’re doing is executing insurance policies designed to specific an angle of supercilious conceitedness.
But it surely will get worse. Merriam Webster gives a second definition of the verb “swagger.” It proposes three synonyms, “boast,” “brag” and “bully,” accompanied by the next definition: “to pressure by argument or risk.” On this definition, the reader will acknowledge Pompeo’s penchant for imposing sanctions and threatening army pressure in opposition to any nation that doesn’t sycophantically fall into line with US coverage.
Pompeo provides to his curiously antinomic definition a word of self-congratulation, one thing no creator of a dictionary would ever do: “We’ve achieved it.” By calling consideration to his personal accomplishments, he inadvertently justifies the unique which means of the phrase as he expresses his “overbearing self-confidence,” to say nothing of his Trumpian self-importance and narcissism.
Historic Be aware
Many see Secretary Pompeo as a future Republican presidential candidate. There are indications that he at the moment processes what he sees because the historic lesson delivered by his guru, Donald Trump, following his stunning electoral success in 2016. Complete self-confidence, bluster, lies and narcissism can ship victory. Even when shedding to Joe Biden in November, Trump attracted some 74 million votes.
If Pompeo can keep away from the irritating tics that motivated tv’s late-night comedians to create a wave of intense private hatred for Trump that in flip motivated their audiences to vote not a lot for Joe Biden as in opposition to the incumbent, Pompeo might really feel he has an affordable hope of rising because the type of extra palatable swaggering strongman that a whole lot of American voters seem to understand. He may assume that he’ll appeal to not solely the 74 million who voted for Trump however many others throughout the spectrum who’re more and more fed up with the type of conventional DC elites Joe Biden and Kamala Harris exemplify. The Democrats must be cautious to keep away from a repeat of 2016. However, if historical past is any information, they received’t be.
Pompeo has one other benefit. In contrast to the president, he’s an genuine evangelical, a real God-fearer and churchgoer, not like the clearly immoral Trump. Pompeo believes in his personal divinely appointed future. Furthermore, he seems to have an interest, in a manner Trump by no means was, in language itself, the important thing to profitable elections and exercising energy. His current exercise as a lexicographical revisionist might point out that he’s making ready to create his personal up to date model of George Orwell’s Newspeak. “Swagger” is just the primary merchandise in his new dictionary.
After the four-year Trump fiasco Republicans are left questioning how one can recast themselves. One huge problem might be to discover a method to cope with Trump. A few of them could be tempted to rally round Pompeo simply to maintain Trump at bay. After 4 predictably calamitous years of a Biden-Harris administration, Pompeo might even see himself as bursting onto the scene to save lots of America with the promise of turning the US into the “Nation of Swagger.” He has already semi-officially renamed his State Division the “Division of Swagger.”
Nonetheless, it’s too early to low cost Biden, who has proven indicators of desirous to do one thing related. Nearly all of his speeches conclude with this stale chorus: “That is the US of America. And there has by no means been something we haven’t been capable of do after we’ve achieved it collectively.” This is probably not swaggering per se, nevertheless it communicates the intent to swagger. Particularly when he follows it up with sentiments comparable to, “now … we embark on the work that God and historical past have known as upon us to do.” Biden merely lacks Trump’s and Pompeo’s model of swagger to make his bullying sound credible.
The phrase “swagger” has been within the English language at the very least since Shakespeare, who used it in a number of contexts. Feste, the clown, closes the play “Twelfth Evening” by lamenting the sorrows of his life In his tune, “The Wind and the Rain.” It contains this stanza:
However after I got here, alas! to wive,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
By swaggering may I by no means thrive,
For the rain it raineth each day.
It isn’t clear whether or not Feste regrets having married the girl who turned his spouse or whether or not he merely expresses his disappointment at studying that married life compelled him to rein in his swaggering. In each instances, he seems to simply accept, not like Pompeo, that swaggering is a lower than respectable type of habits.
Nobody is positioned to tame Mike Pompeo’s swagger. His spouse actually hasn’t sought to play that function. She has even been accused of getting her personal style for swaggering regarding lavish State Division events she organized and private journey. She ultimately beat the rap, although it was established that she had clearly bent official guidelines. Pompeo understands that on the planet of political hyperreality, swagger is a key to being elected to essentially the most highly effective workplace on the planet and occupying the limelight. He now has three years forward of him to hone his expertise at swaggering earlier than the following spherical of Republican primaries begins in 2023.
*[In the age of Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain, another American wit, the journalist Ambrose Bierce, produced a series of satirical definitions of commonly used terms, throwing light on their hidden meanings in real discourse. Bierce eventually collected and published them as a book, The Devil’s Dictionary, in 1911. We have shamelessly appropriated his title in the interest of continuing his wholesome pedagogical effort to enlighten generations of readers of the news. Read more of The Daily Devil’s Dictionary on Fair Observer.]
The views expressed on this article are the creator’s personal and don’t essentially mirror Honest Observer’s editorial coverage.