One request regarding Blago

Our Illinois friends and family asked us: “Did you hear about the Governor?” The short answer is “Yes.” I’d like your help in getting the long answer just right.

It’s no surprise that Ireland’s news-media pays more attention to world events than the big media of the USA. What occasionally surprises Anita and me is how much attention Irish news outlets pay specifically to US political news. For example:this spring, during the debate regarding the delegates from Michigan’s Democratic primary, the standard three-minute news update on an Irish pop radio station included a detailed explanation of how the primary system worked (and didn’t work in this case).

Illinois Governor Blagojevich wasn’t mentioned by name at first (and who could blame the announcers). Neither was Patrick Fitzgerald: we simply heard that the Governor of the State of Illinois was arrested by federal authorities. The newspapers went into more detail, and later radio reports did too. I haven’t yet noticed any analysis or editorial comments (beyond inane radio-personality chatter).

So here’s my request regarding Blagojevich: Can you help me find the right word to describe what I feel?

About six years ago, I embarked on a search for a word that described the attitude of politicians that engage in a certain style of corruption, blithe ignorance, and conceit. I arrived at “gall”, a word closely related to “temerity” and “effrontery”. (The built-in MacOS dictionary application — which appears to be the New American Oxford Dictionary — has a nice discussion of this family of words. Here’s a page that appears to be lifted from that application.)

When one hasn’t paid attention to a corrupt politician, one can be surprised by that politician’s gall. One may, thus, react with disgust or disillusionment. (If one has some temerity oneself, one may react with self-righteousness or superciliousness.)

But what about when you know that such a politician is corrupt, ignorant, and/or conceited? Sometimes, the only surprising thing about a federal case is the depth of the politician’s gall.

Here’s what I have in mind. Everyone who (a) talked with me, and (b) took any interesting in state-level politics — everyone knew that Blagojevich had plenty of insolence and temerity. So I wasn’t quite surprised by the news of his arrest. But I was still amazed by just how reckless and flagrant his actions were.

Well, not quite amazed. Not exactly astonished, either. There is an element of disgust or contempt that isn’t conveyed by those words. “Flabbergasted” and “astounded” make it sound like I was incapacitated in some way, and that’s not true. “Boggled” is just silly.

I’m looking a word to describe the reaction that I feel when confronted (but not surprised) by another person’s gall. It’s something that I feel with increasing frequency, alas, and I believe that others feel the same way. I believe that I’ve had conversations where everyone struggled to articulate a common feeling.

So, help me out here. Surely there’s a good word — or maybe an apt phrase. Maybe I need to borrow a word from another language — as with schadenfreude or agitprop. I’d be delighted to discuss all of this with y’all in the comments. Do you ever feel this way yourself?

6 Comments to “One request regarding Blago”

  1. evan said...
    19 December 2008

    The word for that feeling should be “Blagojevichy”

  2. Jaime said...
    19 December 2008


  3. Sharon said...
    23 December 2008

    Blagojevich has what the French call “je ne sais pas” a certain “I don’t know what”. Perhaps we need a “coup d’etat”

    maybe this calls for the use of a noun as a verb & compound words, such as “He egomaniaced the power of his office into a ‘corruptastrophe’ for the great state of Illinois”

  4. Anonymous said...
    2 January 2009

    I echo Jamie’s comments, Jaded, Numb, Desensitized come to mind.

  5. Teresa said...
    9 January 2009

    Triumphant that your long-standing disenfranchisement of politicians has been re-confirmed? See? Who said I wasn’t positive? That absolutely reeks of positivity.

  6. Keely said...
    10 January 2009