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Word of the Week

I hope this will be a regular friday feature (an open thread kind of thing).  I was looking over GRE material and I was surprised at how many words I knew (i.e, I could recognize and define them), but didn’t know (they weren’t a part of my working vocab).  So I figured I’d try to be more attentive when I come across cool words and I’d post them here.  Here’s this week’s.

Mountebank, \ˈmaun-ti-ˌbaŋk\- Charlatan, pretender. 

I came across this in Manchester’s The Glory and the Dream (which,  by the way, I highly recommend).  The sentence was something like “the American people hadn’t yet realized [Joe McCarthy] was a mountebank”.  Incidentally, am I part of the first generation of Republicans that feels absolutely no need to defend any part of McCarthy?  The Buckleyites stuck with him pretty ostentatiously through the 50’s and, while the Cold War was going on, I got the sense that most Republicans weren’t comfortable totally disowning such a virulent anti-communist (my Republican American History teacher painted a pretty rosy picture of him).  But, I’m with the Democrat Manchester:  Joe McCarthy, what a mountebank.

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  1. Bob Hovic
    September 26, 2009 at 12:09 am

    I think many Republicans of my and my parent’s generations felt that to denounce McCarthy was to concede that his opponents were right — i.e., that there was no serious Communist subversion in the government (which there clearly was).

    In large part, the Democrats got away with framing the argument that way — “McCarthy is a mountebank, therefore everything he said was false.”

  2. MWS
    September 26, 2009 at 12:20 am

    Hey, sometimes even a montebank can do some good, even if he doesn’t mean to.

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