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THE IDLE AMERICAN
‘Green’ Gets Croak Vote…
Wednesday, October 22, 2008 • Posted October 22, 2008

Devotees of Kermit the Frog are croaking with delight. They’ve had antennae up for months to see which presidential candidate first plays—or misplays—the “race card.”

They claim that it was Barack Obama, never mind that his comment was not a “black/white” issue. What the frogs heard was “green,” and that was close enough for them. After all, in presidential debates, as in horseshoes and hand grenades, coming close counts. (The frog fans’ position is supported by debate transcripts.)

“John McCain thinks I’m ‘green behind the ears,’” Obama said….

  • * * * *

Kermit enthusiasts turned deaf ears to the senator’s probable intent.

Unbiased linguists are confident that Obama reached into the idiom barrel and pulled out a couple of “halves” that failed to make a “whole.”

They opine that he probably meant “wet behind the ears,” or maybe “green as a gourd.”…

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The scholars, as often is the case, wanted to give me the whole load.

They blathered that the expression refers to the youth and inexperience of newborns whose birth fluids have not been dried. They added that “dry behind the ears” suggests maturity and experience.

The latter term fits McCain. If time permitted, the political foes could get into some humdinger “wet/dry” issues rivaling the heat in local option votes on the sale of alcohol….

  • * * * *

My eyes crossed as I half-listened to the linguists’ ongoing stream of trivia.

It included the first known use of “wet behind the ears” on the printed pages of the Portsmouth Daily Times in 1911.

I told them a deadline was near at hand, and in a final “swoosh,” they said that it is an “archaic idiom.”…

  • * * * *

“Archaic” is a word I didn’t need to hear. During the debate, Senator Obama said, “We still have an archaic 20th century regulatory system for 21st century financial markets.”

I take umbrage to any suggestion that my favorite century is “archaic.” Hey, in a few more decades, it might apply, but not yet.

Surely we have to mark more than eight years off the calendars of a new century before antiquation of the previous century comes into play….

  • * * * *

Tossed about in the presidential “wannabes’” ongoing battles for votes are thinly-veiled references to “age.”

Someone suggested consideration of the tickets’ combined ages. Each has one long-termer; each has one from youthful ranks.

McCain is 72, and his running mate, Sarah Palin, is 44, so their combined age is 116. Obama, 47, and Joe Biden, 66, have lived a total of 113 years….

  • * * * *

Fun it is to “Google” definitions for “old age.” Many highly-visible historical figures are quoted.

For example, three late national treasures offered memorable definitions. Henry David Thoreau observed, “None are as old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.” Norman Vincent Peale added, “Live your life and forget your age.” George Burns, who lived to be 100, offered, “Age to me means nothing. I can’t get old, I’m working. I was old when I was 21 and out of work. As long as you’re working, you stay young. When I’m in front of an audience, all that love and vitality sweeps over me and I forget my age.”

I’ve always smiled at the one with “anonymous” attribution, “Old age doesn’t always bring wisdom, sometimes it comes alone.”…

  • * * * *

I dunno. But it seems to me that the “brightest of the bright” have special glows in golden years.

I joined hundreds of thousands of other Americans a few days ago in emailing warm wishes to Dr. Billy Graham on the occasion of his 90th birthday. I was privileged to be among several hundred friends who gathered to honor Dr. Zig Ziglar on the “41st anniversary of his 39th birthday. And I love to hear Paul Harvey, who, at age 90, is on the downside of a 10-year contract with ABC. (Subs have been at the microphone during much of the time since the death of his wife, Angel, this spring.) His voice, though, remains the sunshine of our day. He says on time what I often forget to mention: “GOOD DAY!”

Meanwhile, as the final debate is dissected, pundits feel that the 20 references to Joe the Plumber may elevate him to celebrity status. And Bob the Builder is demanding equal time….

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Dr. Newbury is a speaker and author in the Metroplex. He welcomes inquiries and comments. Email: newbury@speakerdoc.com.. Phone: 817-447-3872. Website: www.speakerdoc.com

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