♬ Misunderstand me
Hey, miss. Understand me ♬
— You, too, shall someday smash the glass and cry, “Too Much Joy”1
Nearly a quarter century prior to the day on which you skip reading this Weekend Politics Thread header, Uvular’s very smart older sister Esophagea Suspects,2 gifted him Safire’s New Political Dictionary. Say what Politicados will about a man who would have fucked Ronald Reagan in the loving way, William Safire knew his lexicography.
Indeed, the author/editor devotes a full page and a half to “nattering nabobs of negativism.” the very phrase Safire penned for Spiro Agnew and which ultimately cast the concept of a shared meaning for any utterance into debate.3 Clever girl, that Safire. Also, like any self-respecting velociraptor, genetically incapable of self-reflection and, therefore, immune to irony.
The book served a budding ink-stained wretch of a Uvular well, as his first gig in Washington, DC, consisted of copyediting a political science journal. Words mattered. Safire’s compendium conferred authority for Uvular’s aegis on usage.
In an agony of extasy of assonance, Uvular often found himself enmeshed in the U-words. “Ugly American,” “unholy alliance,” “unthinkable thoughts,” and “useful idiots of the West”4 persist as favorites. The real rock star of U political palaver, however, shall forever remain “ultramontane.”
Coined in the middle Middle Age period of Catholic Church schisms and dual papacies, ultramontane technically means “advocating supreme papal authority in matters of faith and discipline.” Topographers also use the term in the very narrow sense of describing something as existing “other side of the Alps relative to the person superciliously saying ‘ultramontane.’” Avignon does sit over the mountains from Rome, after all. And vice versa.
Colloquially, ultramontanism describes the surrender of political will to a god stand-in. Which brings this around to the cult of Donald Trump. As every reader surely knew it would. Infallible in his fallibility, Trump somehow finagled his inanity into ultramontaniety. Go figure.
Share your own favorite political words and phrases in the comments. Post fearlessly, for, as Too Much Joy assures, “Everything you ever said is brilliant / Anything you want to do is fine with me.”