Decoding the Note: OK, So We're a Little Obsessed

Really, we don't mean to harp on the stylistic flourishes of the Note. But the thing just randomly sprays so much pretension and so many empty faux-knowing asides into our poor overtaxed brainpan that we find ourselves idly trying to formulate Notely phrases to describe its torment: "risible rodomontade"? "power-vocab preening"? "obfuscatory obsequiousnes to power"? "fellatial mash notes to the headmaster"?

Just consider today's entry under--we kid you not--"news summary":

In a television interview on another network this morning LIVE from his Habitat event, the President committed no serious news, but he did laugh at a lot of the questions (for reasons any student of George W. Bush would well understand), and he did allow himself to be shown hammering purposefully, with a jejune combination of cowboy swagger and yuppie self-consciousness.

Forget the typically, and pointlessly, gnomic parenthetical aside about the privileged knowledge available to "any student of George W. Bush," which so far as we can tell roughly translates as "We still love you, Dan Bartlett." No, consider instead that Teutonic trainwreck of phraseology at the sentence's end: "a jejune combination of cowboy swagger and yuppie self-consciousness." "Jejune" is a fancy Frenchy word for childishness or immaturity; alternate meanings include "lacking in nutritive value" and "lacking interest and significance." (It also so happens that it's's word of the day for Tusday, Nov. 2, 2004. We're just saying.)

So are the Halperinites saying that a combination of traits is itself childish, or nonnutritive, or dull? How would that work, exactly? Did the assembler of the combination grow frustrated, and break out into a wailing tantrum? Did a hunger strike ensue? Neither of the combination's constituent traits--swagger and self-consciousness--suggests arrested development. (They are, however, almost entirely contradictory, which leads us to suspect that Notesters do not grasp the meaning of either "jejune" or "combination.") So how could their fusion produce childishness? Is this the same principle by which multiplying two negatives produces a positive integer? Is this the kind of logic that will permit us to continue to plunder the federal budget while continuing to institute tax cuts?

We confess that the Note has again defeated us. We're repairing to bed for some lethean languor. --HOLLY MARTINS

UPDATE: Operatives report that in a Frum-like burst of Commissar-vanishes editing, "jejune" has been mysteriously replaced by "peppery" in today's Note News Summary. Not the condiment we'd choose--W.'s bipolar hammering has always struck us as more satay-like, somehow--but far be it for us to cavil when the Self-Aggrandizing Tip Sheet takes baby-steps (or if you must, steps of distinct jejune-osity) toward actual sense-making. . .

The Note: Very Dignified [ABC News]


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