The buzzwords of Dennis Kucinich.

Politics and policy.
July 1 2003 3:54 PM

The Buzzwords of Dennis Kucinich

How he spins the issues.

Dennis Kucinich

Slate is running several series of short features explaining who the 2004 presidential candidates are, what they're saying, and where they propose to take the country. The first series summarized their personal and professional backgrounds. This series analyzes their pet phrases, candidate by candidate. Today's subject is Dennis Kucinich.

Weapon of mass destruction
Example: "Poverty is a weapon of mass destruction. Homelessness is a weapon of mass destruction. Lack of adequate education is a weapon of mass destruction. Our children not having good neighborhoods is a weapon of mass destruction" (Children's Defense Fund forum, April 9, 2003).
What it means: Big problem.
What it hides: If you had to choose between getting nuked and getting a bad education, would it be a tough call?
Subtext: Please applaud while I change the subject.

Department of Peace
Example: "Come home, America … and make nonviolence an organizing principle within our society through the creation of a Department of Peace" (speech to the National Newspaper Association, March 20, 2003).
What it means: We can end violence by creating another bureaucracy.
What it hides: We have federal departments for education and housing. Yet, according to me, education and housing still suck.
Subtext: Nobody's going to outbid me for the anti-war vote.

Industrial policy
Example: "That's what I believe an industrial policy which calls for us to rebuild steel, automotive, and aerospace industries will do" (Iowa Public Television interview, May 16, 2003).
What it means: We can prop up traditional Midwestern blue-collar industries with subsidies and tariffs.
What it hides: Traditional Midwestern blue-collar industries are obsolete.
Subtext: This isn't counterproductive special-interest bribery and extortion. It's a policy.

Examples: "Democrats can move this county forward … to making education our top funding priority and providing free college education for all" (speech to Democratic National Committee, Feb. 22, 2003). "We need to make it possible for fully paid college in this country, so everyone who wants to go to college, and that includes higher education, and law school, and medical school." (Children's Defense Fund forum, April 9, 2003).
What it means: You pay nothing …
What it hides: … until April 15.
Subtext: Nobody's going to outbid me for the campus vote.

Previous buzzword reviews: Carol Moseley Braun, Howard Dean, John Edwards, Dick Gephardt, Bob Graham, John Kerry.
Next: Joe Lieberman.

Will Saletan writes about politics, science, technology, and other stuff for Slate. He’s the author of Bearing Right.


Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales

Hidden Messages in Corporate Logos

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

How Can We Investigate Potential Dangers of Fracking Without Being Alarmist?

My Year as an Abortion Doula       

  News & Politics
Sept. 15 2014 8:56 PM The Benghazi Whistleblower Who Might Have Revealed a Massive Scandal on his Poetry Blog
Sept. 15 2014 7:27 PM Could IUDs Be the Next Great Weapon in the Battle Against Poverty?
Sept. 15 2014 4:38 PM What Is Straight Ice Cream?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
Brow Beat
Sept. 15 2014 8:58 PM Lorde Does an Excellent Cover of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights”
Future Tense
Sept. 15 2014 4:49 PM Cheetah Robot Is Now Wireless and Gallivanting on MIT’s Campus
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 15 2014 11:00 AM The Comet and the Cosmic Beehive
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.