News & Politics

The Cliché Test

Don't choke on the clichés at the mid-term elections; take this quiz to see if your BS-recognition skills are up to speed.
The mid-term campaign season is underway, which means cliché usage will hit peak levels. To make sure you don't choke on the verbiage, you'll need to get your intellectual Heimlich maneuver skills up to speed. This should help.

What follows is a cliché test. It's easy. Just fill in the blanks. The point of the exercise is to get your cliché-identifier muscles in shape.

First, though, let's review: what is a cliché? One of the best definitions I've come across can be found at Cliché Finder: "A cliché is an analogy characterized by its overuse. It may be true ('Fat as a pig'), no longer true ('work like a dog'), or inscrutable ('right as rain'), but it has been overused to the point that its sole function is to mark its user as a lazy thinker."

Okay. Test time.
1) If we ___ and ___, the terrorists ___!
 (But pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, reading from the Hermann Goering play-book. "Naturally, the common people don't want war, but after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag people along...Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country").

2) Speak truth to ___ (as opposed to speaking truth to those who will act on it).

3) War is ___

4) We need to ___ the economy in ___-friendly ways.

5) All ___ are on the table.

6) This campaign will focus on the ___.

7) We are the leaders of the ___ world.

8) It's time to get ___ on crime (as if retributive justice produces anything other than future crime victims).

9) We must build a ___ to the 21st century.

10) This is the ___ country in the world.

11) I can't keep track of how many times my opponent has ____ on this issue.

12) The world changed forever on ____.

13) It's time to ____ on, even though those who forget ____ are ___ to repeat it.

14) We must follow the ___ of law.

15) No one is above __ ___.

16) You can't negotiate with ____ (unless you're name is Ronald Reagan and it involves Iranians and illegal arms deals to some Latin American country).

17) The will of The ___.

18) I want to make a ____ in people's lives.

19) He (or she) is willing to stand up to the _____.

20) This country was founded on ____.

21) We must face the challenges of ____ with courage and confidence.

22) If you broke it, you ___ it (which should not be confused with the cliches that are a bit closer to reality i.e. "if you broke it, you fix it" or "if you broke it, you pay for it." Try breaking a computer at work and see if you "own" it afterwards. You may have to fix it or pay for it to be fixed, or you may even be fired, but you most certainly won't own it).

23) The perpetrators must be brought to _____. (Interesting how are rarely it is uttered: 'I must act justly.' Justice has been reduced to making sure those people get punished).

24) Freedom is not ____.  (Whose freedom?)

25) There he goes playing _____ politics again.

26) As usual, he played the ___ card again.

27) ____ the good fight.

28) ____ damage is part of any war. (We are to simply ignore the obvious logical absurdity. How can something inevitable be called "unintended"?)

29) ____ the troops (while pretending that the policy-makers who ordered the troops into battle are making the same sacrifices and are therefore worthy to be cheered and obeyed. Also, see comment following number 1).
 
Answers: 1) cut, run, win 2) power 3) hell 4) grow, environmentally 5) options 6) issues 7) free 8) tough 9) bridge 10) greatest or best 11) flip-flopped 12) September 11 13) move, history, condemned 14) rule 15) the law 16) terrorists 17) People 18) difference 19) special interest groups or Washington bureaucrats 20) Christianity 21) tomorrow or the new millennium 22) own 23) justice 24) free 25) partisan 26) race 27) Fight 28) Collateral 29) Support.
Sean Gonsalves is a Cape Cod Times staff reporter and a syndicated columnist.