Final Word from Friday, October 22, 2010

There are two main types of political analysis. One tries to explain and predict, without injecting much bias on the part of the analyst. This kind is nearing extinction, because almost everyone has an axe to grind or an ideology to flog. The other main type is largely designed to help bring about (or prevent) the very situation being analyzed. At its root, it's actually political agitation, even if its creators don't always intend it to be. Most of the analysis of the situation at Prague city hall falls into this category. We can read, for example, that the election was a referendum on "godfathers," that Zdeněk Tůma must use his mandate from voters to blackball the main evildoers, and that a grand coalition of ODS and ČSSD would destroy ODS's chances in future elections. It's perhaps all true, but it's still political agitation, because it fails to take into account the bird-in-the-hand attitude of Prague's political bosses. They're worried more about the here and now than about what short-minded voters might theoretically do in a few years' time.[Czech Republic TOP 09 local municipal]

Glossary of difficult words

grand coalition - usually the term used when the largest party joins forces with the ideologically opposed second-largest party; here it means No. 2 ODS and No. 3 ČSSD, without No. 1 TOP 09;

to have an axe/ax to grind - to have a self-serving reason for doing or being involved in something; 

to flog - to promote or talk about something repetitively or at excessive length; to sell or offer for sale; 

to blackball - to reject or exclude someone from a club or activity; 

evildoer - a person who commits profoundly immoral and malevolent deeds; 

bird-in-the-hand - "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush"; it's better to be content with what you have than to risk losing something by seeking more; 

the here and (the) now - the present, as opposed to the past or future; 

short-minded - having a short memory.


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