National Journal, “What Politicians Really Mean When They Use These Washington Buzzwords”

September 2, 2014

Chuck McCutcheon, “What Politicians Really Mean When They Use These Washington Buzzwords” (National Journal, Sept. 2, 2014)

Glide path

Technically it’s the final descent route for a landing plane, but in political parlance it has become used with increasing frequency to describe the proper outcome for a bill or a difficult issue. Even before Obama took office, language lovers took note of his use of the phrase in such contexts as “the glide path that we are on with respect to health care spending” and getting on “a glide path to reducing our forces in Iraq.” Since then, other politicians have used it to evoke a sense of comfort and certainty about the course on which something is heading. But it doesn’t work in every context. “When the glide-path metaphor is transferred to economics, I think, it doesn’t quite … fly,”¬†Wall Street Journal¬†language columnist Ben Zimmer observed. “Even if the economy is being steered to a ‘soft landing,’ it’s still going down, right? Wouldn’t we want to get that plane moving upwards, or at least staying level?”

Read the rest here.

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