I was thinking about what we traditionally call the postelection "honeymoon," of which President-elect Barack Obama is now in the second week. But what exactly is meant by the metaphor? As a starting point, I looked up the word in my well-worn Oxford English Dictionary: "The first month after marriage, when there is nothing but tenderness and pleasure (Samuel Johnson); originally having no reference to the period of a month, but comparing the mutual affection of newly-married persons to the changing moon which is no sooner full than it begins to wane; now, usually, the holiday spent together by a newly-married couple, before settling down at home."
First of all, who are the parties on the honeymoon? Is it the president and the public, the president and the opposition party, or the president and Congress? Are the media supposed to be on the honeymoon? If so, in what capacity? Are they reporting on the developments of the honeymoon like paparazzi, or are they participants? Is it ethical for journalists to be sweetly "relating" to a politician, or should they stay at arm's length, so to speak? Are we all on the honeymoon together, and is it voluntary or mandatory?
I have been on only one honeymoon, with my wife 24 years ago last week. It was very much voluntary, and I didn't need to fake my tender love and devotion.
But whether as an opinion journalist or as a member of the opposition party, my attitude toward the president-elect is utterly dissimilar to what I experienced on my real honeymoon. I didn't choose him; I don't trust him (if he knows of me, he doubtlessly reciprocates such sentiments); and I don't look forward to a long relationship with him.
What we all are really doing right now is biding our time. After all, when President-elect Obama hired Rahm Emanuel to be his chief of staff, it was not for the purpose of fluffing the pillows on Obama's and our matrimonial bed. To Emanuel, a pillow is more likely to be used for suffocating an enemy (figuratively, of course) than putting him at ease.
The only part of the metaphor I can relate to is the bit about "comparing the mutual affection of newly-married persons to the changing moon which is no sooner full than it begins to wane." By my calculations, that means that the honeymoon will be over by Dec. 4. In fact, already, my positive passions are feeling rather "wane."
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the references to the political honeymoon metaphor started in 1655, when Thomas Fuller said, "Kingdoms have their honeymoon, when new Princes are married unto them." In 1795, Edmund Burke wrote, "Spain, in the honey-moon of her new servitude." And in 1867, Goldwin Smith said, "The brief honeymoon of the new king and his parliament."
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.