Speak like a Throwback

So, I’m uploading my Mozy backup files–estimated time hours and hours and hours–because my computer suffered a case of blue screen of death. Windows 7 totally choked and I had to return it to the factory image.  So,  I’m throwing up a retro speak open thread since I have an alien computer until Mozy does its thing.  This thread is actually related to this NYT’s article:   “Gosh, Who Talks Like That Now? Romney Does”. RomneySpeak is a throwback to the good ol’ days when blacks had to pay poll taxes, count marbles in jars, and take long tests to vote.  It’s a time when it was hard to get birth control and abortion was one of those back alley things.   Yes, folks with Mittens, it’s like a throw back to that good old time when White Men were White Men and the rest of us were under their thumb. Probably why they appear to be his main supporters.

At a campaign stop in Rockford, Ill., not long ago, Mitt Romney sought to convey his feelings for his wife, Ann. “Smitten,” he said.

Not merely in love.

“Yeah, smitten,” he said. “Mitt was smitten.”

It was a classic Mittism, as friends and advisers call the verbal quirks of the Republican presidential candidate. In Romneyspeak, passengers do not get off airplanes, they “disembark.” People do not laugh, they “guffaw.” Criminals do not go to jail, they land in the “big house.” Insults are not hurled, “brickbats” are.

As he seeks the office of commander in chief, Mr. Romney can sometimes seem like an editor in chief, employing a language all his own. It is polite, formal and at times anachronistic, linguistically setting apart a man who frequently struggles to sell himself to the American electorate.

Romney evidently hides out a lot in his little corners of the world where modernity alludes him.

Mr. Romney, 65, has spent four decades inside the corridors of high finance and state politics, where indecorous diction and vulgarisms abound. But he has emerged as if in a rhetorical time capsule from a well-mannered era of soda fountains and AMC Ramblers, someone whose idea of swearing is to let loose with the phrase “H-E-double hockey sticks.”

“He actually said that,” recalled Thomas Finneran, the speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives when Mr. Romney was governor. “As in, go to ‘H-E-double hockey sticks.’ I would think to myself, ‘Who talks like that?’ ”

Mr. Romney, quite proudly. In fact, he seems puzzled by the fascination with something as instinctive (and immutable) as how he talks, as if somebody were asking how he breathes

You can tell he’s stuck there by the way he thinks the Soviet Union is still our biggest threat?  Kruscheve any one?

Those around him are so accustomed to his verbal tics that they describe them in shorthand. “Old-timey,” said one aide. “His 1950s language,” explained another. “The Gomer Pyle routine,” said a third.

Asked about his boss’s word preferences, Eric Fehrnstrom, a veteran Romney adviser, responded knowingly: “You mean like ‘gosh, golly, darn’?”

For Democratic strategists, Mr. Romney’s throwback vocabulary feeds into their portrayal of a man ill-equipped for the mores and challenges of the modern age. David Axelrod, a top adviser for an Obama campaign that has adopted “Forward” as its slogan, once quipped that Mr. Romney “must watch ‘Mad Men,’ ” the hit television show set in Manhattan in the 1960s, “and think it’s the evening news.”

His exclamations can sound jarring to the contemporary ear — or charming, depending on whom you ask. Midway into a critique of Mr. Obama’s economic policies a few months ago in Charlotte, N.C., Mr. Romney declared: “They’ve scared the dickens out of banks,” he said. “They’ve scared the dickens out of insurance companies.”

Frankly, the idea of a President Romney and a Vice President Ryan scares the dickens out of me! Talk about revenge of the zombies!

I have to admit to being in Nursery School in 1960 so you’ll have to excuse me if most of what I remember has to do with Captain Kangaroo.  I do know that when I was growing up as the 60s rolled on that I saw the Vietnam War on TV and heard nightly body count and black people in the south being hosed down with fire hoses just for trying to vote.  I remember that I couldn’t even wear pants to school in the middle of a midwestern winter.  I sure as hell don’t want to go back to that.

21 Comments on “Speak like a Throwback”

  1. Haven’t had a chance to read this post yet, but…I was just finishing up tomorrow’s reads and this link would be too late to share: Orionid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight: How to Watch Online | Space.com

  2. janicen says:

    Try walking to elementary school in the suburbs of Buffalo, NY in the middle of winter wearing a dress and knee socks. No pants in school until middle school. No, “by golly”, I do not want to go back to those days!

    I just got home from seeing “Argo”. I don’t want to go back to the early eighties either with men wearing porn-star mustaches and people smoking on planes. But it really was an awesome movie. I highly recommend it.

    • dakinikat says:

      Interesting … I’ll have to look into it.

      • janicen says:

        You probably heard about it. It’s the true story of the six people who escaped Iran during the hostage crisis during the Carter administration. I’m sure you remember, we were all thanking Canada because the hostages escaped with the help of the Canadian embassy in Iran. Well, there was a lot more to that story. It was finally declassified by Bill Clinton during his administration. It is a really great movie. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time.

      • dakinikat says:

        oh, I think I’ve seen it advertised. Something about rescuing them by setting up a false movie?

    • roofingbird says:

      You’re right, it is creepy.

      • Fredster says:

        And what was with the little Mitt and Obamas egging you on?

        JJ, you lost me on that one. little Mitt…you mean Jindal?

      • Fredster says:

        Ohhh..I get you now. Actually I’m up waay late. Been having some trouble with my neck and shoulder and am almost afraid to go to sleep because I’ll lay there and be fine and during sleep I’ll move somehow and start the neck and arm “paining” me, so to speak and then I’m up again. Need to talk to the doc on Monday, he was out of town Thurs/Fri. He has me on Medrol and a pain med but can’t take the pain med. The sleeping for a bit, waking up and then trying to sleep again does make for some long days. LOL

        Sleepy enough now I think I’ll try to get some zzz’s for awhile. The doc also wanted me to speak to the folks in p.t. so I’ve got to do that Monday also.

    • Fredster says:

      Well I was a match with Obama for whatever that’s worth.

      Thanks for putting that in here JJ. I bookmarked it and will use it in a comment or something over at TW, with credit to you of course. 🙂

    • Fredster says:

      oops, my reply to you JJ went into the wrong place. You lost me on the little Mitt thing.

  3. roofingbird says:

    I was having a dickens of a time over what to run up the flagpole on this subject.

    At almost 72, Hubby often amuses the “youngsters” at his work with the phrases they have never heard. I’m the same age as Romney and have at my linguistic disposal many similar phrases, though I would have never actually expressed myself in hockey sticks. I think our speech patterns were anachronistic even as youngsters because our parents were somewhat older, as was Romney’s.

    Ageism is a subtext in this communication discussion. We all have “contemporary” ears-some of them are just younger. Polite speech is still a sign of a religious family person, and I often found my potty mouth offending a coworker on the construction site.