The phenomenon whereby certain people are “mentioned” to journalists as possible candidates for higher office.
Scott Simon of National Public Radio explained: “The late Art Buchwald used to talk about the Great Mentioner — some unnamed person who told pundits and reporters a lot of people say this, a lot of people say that. Art said that if you trace back exactly who said this and that, it was usually just the reporters and analysts themselves that tried to splash a coat of credibility over sheer speculation by putting it in the mouth of the Great Mentioner.”
Ryan Lizza attributes the term to New York Times columnist Russell Baker who used it “to describe the mysterious source who plucks politicians from obscurity and mentions them to political journalists as contenders for higher office.”
Attempting to diminish a political foe by likening his or her words to remarks on “legitimate rape” made by former Missouri Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) while seeking a U.S. Senate seat in 2012.
Bill Lambrecht: “Akinize has been used often to describe political attacks since those remarks about rape and pregnancy effectively scuttled Akin’s political ambition. Google finds Akinize 15,000 times.”
When the presiding officer of the U.S. Senate disregards a rule or precedent.
This most commonly refers to an effort by the Senate to end a filibuster by a simple majority, even though rules specify that ending a filibuster requires the consent of at least 60 senators.
An opinion written by Vice President Richard Nixon in 1957 concluded that the U.S. Constitution grants the presiding officer the authority to override Senate rules in this way. If a majority vote to uphold the presiding officer, his interpretation of the rules becomes a precedent.
Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) first called the option “nuclear” in March 2003, using the metaphor of a nuclear strike to suggest it might provoke retaliation by the minority party.
The ability to deny blame because evidence does not exist to confirm responsibility for an action. The lack of evidence makes the denial credible, or plausible. The use of the tactic implies forethought, such as intentionally setting up the conditions to plausibly avoid responsibility for one’s future actions.
The term was coined by the CIA in the 1960s to describe the withholding of information from senior officials in order to protect them from repercussions in the event that certain activities by the CIA became public.
A philosophy that requires the “majority of the majority” to bring up a bill for a vote in the House of Representatives.
Republicans have used this rule consistently since Speaker Dennis Hastert wielded it in the mid-1990s to effectively limit the power of the minority party. Democrats were prevented from passing bills with the assistance of a small number of members of the majority party.
The election held in the 6th year of a president’s tenure in which the party holding the White House historically loses a substantial number of House and Senate seats.
The Atlantic: “For decades political analysts have been intrigued by an ironclad pattern in American politics: the President’s party loses seats in the off-year election that follows his White House triumph–a phenomenon that has occurred in every off-year election save one since the Civil War. Since the Second World War, off-year losses for the President’s party in the House have averaged fifteen seats in the second year and forty-eight in the sixth; in the Senate the average losses are zero in the second year and seven in the sixth.”
Charlie Cook: “There are a variety of reasons, but at that midway point in a party’s second four years in the White House, the ‘in’ party tends to lose energy and focus. Party leaders run out of ideas, and the ‘first team’ in terms of personnel—the people who were there when the president took office—have often bailed out, and the second or third team is sometimes not as good. Voters tend to grow weary and to look for something different.”
A state whose voting outcome in a presidential election is relatively sensitive or responsive to changes in political conditions, such as a change in the national economic mood.
Nate Silver: “Elastic states are those which have a lot of swing voters — that is, voters who could plausibly vote for either party’s candidate. A swing voter is very likely to be an independent voter, since registered Republicans and registered Democrats vote with their party at least 90 percent of the time in most presidential elections. The swing voter is also likely to be devoid of other characteristics that are very strong predictors of voting behavior.”
An inelastic state, by contrast, is one which is relatively insensitive to these changes.
Funds used for a political campaign that are not properly disclosed before an election.
The term was apparently coined by Mother Jones.
The locked box where legendary Louisiana Gov. Huey Long kept “deducts” from state employee salaries to fund his political operation.
Estimates suggest Long collected between $50,000 to $75,000 each election cycle from government workers. The deduct box was kept at his Roosevelt Hotel headquarters in New Orleans.
After being shot in 1935, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports Long was asked on his deathbed by Roosevelt Hotel owner Seymour Weiss, “Huey, where is the deduct box?” Before falling into a coma, Long responded, “I’ll tell you later, Seymour.”
The deduct box was never found.
An informal briefing by the White House press secretary that is on the record but video recording is not allowed. It can occur anywhere, such as on Air Force One, but it often describes the informal interactions between the press and the press secretary that occur before a formal White House briefing.
The term likens the members of the press corps to a “gaggle of geese” honking.
Washington Monthly: “Gaggles historically refer to informal briefings the press secretary conducts with the press pool rather than the entire press corps. They used to happen in the morning, they were more or less off the record, and their purpose was mostly to exchange information – the president’s schedule and briefing schedule, from the administration side; heads-up on likely topics or early comment on pressing issues, from the news side. Briefings were what everybody knows them to be.”