Brian Bailey Preface to the Revised Edition

Turn of phrase

I love words and the clever use of them. This most likely comes from my father who was obsessed with words and poetry. I'm often amazed at how a certain phrase can have such an impact, framing a conversation, making you look at something differently, or simply making you laugh. Of course, political phrases come to my mind first - "morning in America", "a thousand points of light", "the people who work hard and play by the rules", and "change versus more of the same". Sometimes, it's just the great use of a great word - I'm still waiting for the right opportunity to use "nefarious" or "usurp" in a sentence.

I've come across two fun examples of this lately. One is from today's New York Times. People who write headlines, particularly for an editorial, face a terrific challenge of how to sum up the piece, get people interested, and be clever, without settling for the groan-inducing pun. On Tony Blair's last day as England's Prime Minister, I think they nailed it: The Which Blair Project. Very impressive.

The second example is a quote that already got a lot of press, but it's just so outstanding I have to document it here. When two new books appeared on Hillary Clinton, her campaign decided the best way to make sure they didn't become an issue was to make it clear that it was old news, more of the same, and completely irrelevant to the campaign. Clinton's spokesman Philippe Reines accomplished all of this a one simple, beautiful response: "Is it possible to be quoted yawning?"