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word of the day

August 27, 2005

Cintra Wilson in Salon again:

It seemed somehow related to the Roberts nomination that there was an extra helping of snappy young Republicans humming around the White House on the 20th — prematurely wide and matronly young women with obsolete cheerleader features dressed like Lady Bird Johnson, with tightly twisted hair and $2,000 handbags, and 20-something guys with that roundheaded military eunuch look: plastic wraparound sunglasses and boxy, off-the-rack navy-blue suits with the periwinkle-blue shirts that have become the uniform of the GOP Youth. The guys have a restless, jacked-up machismo that probably comes of venting the frustrations of abstinence in Krav Maga class, and a thumping sense of the authority and entitlement that comes with belonging to the winning team, which they call “The Party.” Superclean motherfuckers — an abrasive, stinging kind of clean, like they all just got shaken out of an icy tumbler full of Pine Sol, pumice and the New Testament.

This reminds me of a vocabulary lesson I taught a couple of weeks ago in which I explained the meaning of the word “excoriate” — one of those great words that’s usually used metaphorically, but has a literal meaning (like perhaps “lukewarm”). To “excoriate” someone is to criticize them harshly, but the literal meaning of the word is “to tear or wear off the skin of; abrade.” Like, when you drag someone behind your car in a lynching, or take a cheese grater to their skin. Excoriate.

Thank you, Cintra.


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