Adapted from the Twitter feed, Friday, April 7, 2017 Posted Saturday morning, April 8.
Republicans just triggered the “nuclear option” in the Senate to let them confirm Neil Gorsuch: https://t.co/lWcMXFMCE0— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) April 6, 2017
A small reason I'm glad the GOP opted for the nuclear option: journalists no longer have an excuse to use the phrase "nuclear option"
Whenever journalists are deprived of one of their pet clichés it's a good day for the English language and actual thought.
I don’t mean to single out Ezra Klein here. He didn’t even write the article he links to. Probably not the headline either. He may not have even edited it. I don’t know how the editing chain works at Vox. It’s likely he gave it a final read but maybe not. Doesn’t matter. The article’s by Andrew Propkov, but I’m not singling him out either. His is just one of a dozens I could have linked to. The phrase is ubiquitous and used as reflexively and thoughtlessly. It’s practically required. I suspect political writers think they can’t not use it, even writers who know it’s a cliché and are sick of it themselves. It would be like leaving out the word “closure” when they’re turning out what they hope will be the last story about a tragedy they’re tired of covering. And there are probably plenty of reporters and editors who see nothing wrong with it. They know what it means---it must have a meaning or they wouldn’t use it, right? They’re the pros, after all.
"Nuclear option" is one of the worst of the worst. It's hyperbolic, it doesn't describe what it's used to describe, and it sounds dumb. Try saying it, as casually you can and with a straight face. Can’t do it, can you? You almost have to shout it or growl it or say it with widened eyes and tightened throat or intone it like you’re letting someone in on a secret about how the world works---”When you’ve been at this business as long as I have, young man…” At best, it makes you sound like a pompous bore. Usually it makes the user sound like a sports fan showing off his “insider” knowledge of how the game ought to be played or a war movie buff explaining why the weapon a soldier is carrying is all wrong for the job he’s supposed to be doing. It’s an expression used to inflate the trivial into something supposedly meaningful and insightful. Once you know that all it means is "the Senate changed its rules, which it can do and routinely does", it deflates to nothing.
Yes, this was a big rule change. It's historic and has long-term implications. But it didn't "blow up" the Senate (another stupid cliché).
And it gives you away, boys and girls on the bus. It's clearly one of those phrases you use to make yourselves feel like players.
You're not players. You shouldn't want to be players. We don't need you to be players. We vote for people to do that job. Other people.
We just need you to do your jobs as investigators and witnesses (see James Baldwin) and advocates, sometimes, and voices and storytellers for people who usually aren’t listened and can’t make themselves heard and don’t have a gift for telling their own stories (see Jimmy Breslin), and then write well and think clearly while you're at it.