Word Buzz Wednesday: Asian pivot, party raiding, Shermanesque

General William Tecumseh Sherman Monument

Welcome to Word Buzz Wednesday, your go-to place for some of the most interesting words of the week. The latest: not the latest dance craze in the East; not to be confused with “panty raiding”; not unclear in politics.

Asian pivot

“Mr. Obama will make the visit during a week-long trip to Vietnam and Japan at the end of May. The trip is meant to highlight the administration’s commitment to what’s known as the Asian pivot.”

Rebecca Shabad, “Obama to make historic trip to Hiroshima,” CBS News, May 10, 2016

The Asian pivot, also known as the Pivot to Asia, is “one of the Obama Administration’s central foreign policy initiatives,” namely “a strategic ‘re-balancing’ of U.S. interests from Europe and the Middle East toward East Asia.”

While Obama will “make an historic visit to Hiroshima” at the end of May, says CBS News, “he will not revisit the decision to use the atomic bomb at the end of World War II.”

chewable pill

“But there are different types, and the likes of Minow tend to prefer only what’s known as a ‘chewable pill’ — namely one that is redeemed by a shareholder vote to assure management doesn’t use it simply to protect itself from buyers who might well do better for shareholder.”

James Warren, “Tribune Publishing tries to foil Gannett with ‘poison pill,’” Poynter, May 9, 2016

Does it come in orange flavor? A chewable pill is a modified version of the poison pill, which was created by attorney Martin Lipton in the 1980s. The poison pill is a technique used by companies to thwart hostile takeovers by making “the target’s stock prohibitively expensive or otherwise unattractive to an unwanted acquirer.”

A chewable pill — that is, one that’s easier to swallow — is modified to “appease investors by permitting them to ask for a special shareholder vote to determine whether or not a specific bid can be exempt from triggering the pill.”

party raiding

“He’s also worried that allowing voters to cross party lines could lead to what’s called ‘party raiding,’ where ‘voters not aligned with a particular party or its philosophy and goals will vote for the weaker or weakest candidate in the party’s primary, hoping to prevail in the general election.’”

Julia Marsh, “NY primary results stand, but judge questions closed system,” The New York Post, May 2, 2016

Party raiding (not to be confused with “panty raiding,” so says Wikipedia) “can happen in one of two ways,” according to Bloomberg: those outside the “party can vote for the candidate they find least objectionable,” or “they can vote for the candidate they believe will make the weakest general election opponent.”

Closed primary elections, in which people can only vote in whatever party they’re registered for, are supposed to prevent party raiding. However, some registration processes can be so “onerous” that even a candidate’s children might be prevented from voting.

Shermanesque statement

“Given an invitation to end the speculation by issuing a Shermanesque denial, [Gingrich] replies: ‘Nobody from Georgia issues Shermanesque statements. It goes against the state constitution.’)”

Joshua Green, “Donald Trump Bets the White House on His One-Man Show,” Bloomberg, May 5, 2016

In a field ruled by obfuscation, it’s not surprising that in politics a term exists to distinguish a statement that’s clear and unambiguous. House Speaker Paul Ryan issued such a statement when asked if he’d save the GOP by running for office: “Let me be clear. I do not want, nor will I accept, the nomination for our party.”

The Shermanesque statement is named for Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman who, after he retired from the military, was often asked to run for president, to which he replied, “I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected.”


“A cicada is capable of causing such a racket due to vibrations of its ‘tymbals,’ or sound production organ composed of corrugated exoskeleton.”

Sarah Emerson, “Cicada Calls Are Literally Deafening,” Motherboard, May 3, 2016

The buggy tymbal is a variant of the musical timbal, another name for the kettledrum. The word comes from the French timbale, which ultimately comes from the Arabic aṭ-ṭabl, “the drum.”

One thought on “Word Buzz Wednesday: Asian pivot, party raiding, Shermanesque

  1. A Shermanesque statement isn’t simply a clear and plain statement. It’s a clear and plain statement refusing to run or serve, as in Sherman’s original example. They are rare.

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