Tuesday, May 13, 2014

From Here to Eternity... Or Election Day, Whichever Comes First

    In James Taranto's Tuesday edition of his Wall Street Journal Online column The Best of the Web, Taranto quotes from a recent article by the Journal's Gerald Seib: "[S]ix months is an eternity in modern politics."  The phrase sounds very familiar to even the casual consumer of political media, but just how hackneyed the formulation has become may surprise even grizzled political veterans.  The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes 3:11 that God has set eternity in the hearts of men, but clearly eternity is also set in the pens of pundits.  With barely a research effort to speak of, here's an abridged compilation of this most versatile of politics memes:
  • "Fifteen months is an eternity in politics, so Sen. Lautenberg has plenty of time..." Rutgers
  • "Thirteen months is a long time between now and election day. Thirteen months is an eternity in politics." New York Times
  • "...two weeks is a long time in politics, eleven months is an eternity." Canada Free Press
  • "There are also still nine months left in 2014 – an eternity in politics." Breitbart
  • "Eight months is an eternity in politics..." PolicyMic
  • "...seven months away, an eternity in American politics." Bloomberg
  • "Six months is an eternity in modern politics..." WSJ
  • "They say a day in politics is a long time. A little over four months would perhaps qualify as an eternity..." CVMTV
  • "Now we’re under a month to go until the November 6 election, at which point today will seem like an eternity ago." Reuters
    To be clear, I could have gone higher than sixteen months, but since this is not a political campaign, I didn't have eternity to work on it.  And time also fails me to tell of the eternal nature of political daysweeks, and years.
    But the trail leading to the apex of hyperbole doesn't end here. Politico (as reposted by CBS News) managed to squeeze eternity into a single hour back in 2007:
    The grand prize, however, goes to Michael Green writing in the Federal Political News from Joyce Communications in Nevada. Green bests Politico by a factor of sixty:
  • "Much can change in that long a period, since a minute is an eternity in politics." Joyce Communications
    But on second thought, maybe Michael Green was on to something.  After all, many candidates watching returns crawl in on election night could certainly identify with the words of Franz Kafka: "L'√©ternit√©, c'est long ... surtout vers la fin." Eternity is long, especially near the end.

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