Our definition of zeitgeist starts: “Reporter shows off his German when he means the spirit of the time.” Our example was a Seattle story in 2010 that reported that the sockeye salmon would be a top candidate to illustrate “our have-it-all, eco-wannabe zeitgeist.”
An updated, more human example was in a Boston Globe story, Sept. 28, 2017, about Massachusetts Republican Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican in the bluest of blue states. Headlined “Baker is liked, but many contend not intensely,” the story reports that for two years there’s been 70 percent public approval of Baker.
The story continues: “But behind those numbers and headlines about the nation’s most popular governor is a core complex picture — and perhaps a glimmer of hope for Democrats. Scores of interviews…..paint a picture of a governor who is neither beloved nor detested; a man who is not shaping the political zeitgeist but is in harmony with a key part of it; a pol who is neither too hot nor too cold on key issues of the day.”
Now, you may wonder: “What the hell is “political zeitgeist?” Boston’s political junkies, however, would insist that zeitgeist is a new rice-beans-vegie-chicken-fish stew, which is exactly what local politics are. A legislator’s pet lobbyist will treat him or her to it, since a serving costs only $38 at a new Asian-Icelandic hash-house in the Back Bay.
File under: Show off your German with “political wahnsinn.”
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