I’m not a regular reader of The New Yorker (probably no surprise there), but thanks to the Apple News app on my phone, I came across a headline yesterday that seemed intriguing enough to warrant me clicking on it for further reading. As it turned out, the story, “The Real Backstory of Why Trump Ordered the Killing of Suleimani Is Becoming More Clear“, was from The New Yorker.
I won’t get into the details of the story here, you can read it for yourself if you are so inclined.
But what really caught my attention was the following sentence: “Any deliberative policymaking process appears to have been replaced by a combination of belligerence, toadyism, and saluting the Commander-in-Chief.” (emphasis added)
I have to admit that I had no idea what toadyism meant, but the word was interesting enough for me to go out to good old Google and look it up.
Here is the definition I found:
toadyism: a fawning flattery, obsequiousness, or sycophancy.
It’s a good thing the definition included the first part “a fawning flattery”, because if all I saw were the words, “obsequiousness or sycophancy”, I still wouldn’t know what it meant.
And if you still aren’t clear what all these words mean, the free dictionary offered some synonyms for “obsequiousness” which put it in terms I could completely understand.
- apple polishing
So there you have it, one person’s down-to-earth description of how policy gets made in Washington these days.
I just wish the story had used one of these four phrases instead of toadyism, it could have saved me a few minutes of time, as well as not making me feel uneducated.
But I guess people who read The New Yorker want to see words that not many people know the meaning of, including themselves…
*image from the National Wildlife Foundation