Jack Ohman

Editorial cartoonist, writer and Joe King’s alter ego

Call me quasi-, but I think Gov. Brown is studying for the SAT Verbal section again...

05/29/2013 5:13 PM

05/29/2013 6:02 PM

As we drift toward the end of the Legislative session, I noted that Gov. Jerry Brown, (R-D-Ind-CA), in his own inimitable manner, said that he and legislative leaders were in "quasi-collaborative mode" on the budget, which is quasi-reassuring in a pseudo-kind of way. 

Whenever someone uses the prefix "quasi-," I usually have to assume that, in fact, what they say is happening isn't really happening. Phrases like this include:

"I'm in a quasi-relationship." That means you're not really in a relationship, exactly. Maybe you meet every few weeks to collaborate. I don't know.

Or, "this is a quasi-decent movie." That means it had one good scene and you liked the soundtrack okay.

Probably the most famous quasi- was Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre Dame (who is a character in the book "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," just for quasi-clarity) from where, I am sure, Gov. Brown derives a lot of his quasi-Jesuitical way of thinking (the university, not the place in France). Quasimodo means "almost a standard measurement," and, by any standard measurement, he is an actual hunchback, and not almost a hunchback. But that's just a semi-hunch.

Everyone is afraid of Quasimodo in the book by Victor Hugo (who once wrote his agent a letter inquiring about his book sales with a single punctuation mark : "?", and the agent responded with "!"), and I would guess that California taxpayers probably regard the legislature the same way, and not quasi-, either.

In any legislative body, there are hunchbacks, paybacks, givebacks, and back-slaps. But whenever I hear "quasi-," I am pretty sure something impure is going down. Something crypto-, I suspect. That's my quasi-nano-neo-thinking, anyway. Watch your back, too. And your wallet, which could could become your demi-wallet very quickly.

In the other part of Gov. Brown's statement about the "quasi-collaborative mode," he said that he didn't think "edicts or pronunciamentoes will help that process."

Edicts might help, in a quasi-Jesuitical sort of manner (see also:earlier jokes to this effect in previous cartoons and columns), but pronunciamentoes? Hmm. 

Now, look. I have heard many politicians utter many words in the past 35 years of Professionally Paying Attention To This Sort of Thing, but I have never, not one time, ever heard a politician use the word "pronunciamentoes." Ever. I have never ever heard William F. Buckley say pronunciamentoes one time. Ever.

I have heard politicians hand down quasi-pronunciamentoes, however.

But only in Sacranunciamento.

I'm going nuts trying to keep track of Gov. Brown's Weekly Vocab Test, but I'm enjoying it.

In a quasi-sort of way.

About This Blog

Jack Ohman joined The Sacramento Bee in 2013. He previously worked at the Oregonian, the Detroit Free Press and the Columbus Dispatch. His work is syndicated to more than 200 newspapers by Tribune Media Services. Jack has won the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, the Scripps Foundation Award and the national SPJ Award, and he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2012 and the Herblock Prize in 2013. Contact Jack at johman@sacbee.com. Twitter: @JACKOHMAN.


Join the Discussion

The Sacramento Bee is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service