Media

The L'Enfant Code

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Fans of the dog whistle genre of political punditry might enjoy this attempted entry from U.S. News blogger Jamie Stiehm. After a meandering intro (did you know the cities of Madison and Washington "have the sweet scent of democratic government in the autumn air, along with rustling leaves"?) we get to the ineffable argument:

Fargo North, reporter

David Pfouffe, organizer for Obama's appearance at the DAR Constitution Hall in the nation's capital, invited multitudes to come to hear the president speak in Washington, "D.C." Ouch. Return with regrets to sender, please.

Adding the "D.C." to Washington every chance they get is part of the Republican code. Haven't you heard the way they speak the name? George W. Bush was a master of this art, adding his best prep school sneer to the two extra syllables. It is a distancing mechanism, a way to telegraph to listeners a distance–and a fundamental disrespect–for the federal government.

This not-very-nice nuance is a common practice among Republicans in Congress: speaking of Washington as if it's foreign. As if they are not standing on the ground in this graceful city, under a marble dome inspired by ancient Rome. The city of "magnificent distances" doesn't deserve to be "dissed" like that.

I probably don't have to spell this out, but here on Planet Earth we call Washington "D.C." to distinguish it from Washington "state." Comforting though it would be if anyone who added that suffix to the city's name had a healthy libertarian disrespect for the feds, I'm not nearly optimistic enough to believe it.

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73 responses to “The L'Enfant Code

  1. Is it still offensive to refer to Barack Hussein Obama as Barack Hussein Obama?

    1. Beat me to it. I was wondering if it was still racist to refer to a person by his given name.

      1. Re: The Other Kevin,

        I was wondering if it was still racist to refer to a person by his given name.

        Only when he happens to be the Tlatoani and he’s black.

  2. What about people that refer to Washington D.C. as just “D.C.”? Are we part of the evil plot?

    1. You are a worse version of Hitler.

  3. That’s absolutely nuts. People in DC will refer to it as the District, DC, the Beltway, or sometimes “this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.”

    Outside of DC, it’s obvious that just saying “Washington” doesn’t cut it.

  4. How about “Virginia’s asshole”? Even if Washington state is essentially a rainy version of California, comparing it to DC is still an insult.

    1. If D.C. is Virginia’s asshole, what does that make Petersburg? Or much of the Hampton Roads/Newport News area?

      1. Virginia’s duodenum?

      2. Virginia’s sewer system?

  5. It is a distancing mechanism [using D.C.], a way to telegraph to listeners a distance–and a fundamental disrespect–for the federal government.

    In the same way as criticizing the current tlatoani is nothing more than thinly-veiled racism.

  6. Two reactions

    (1) He’s making this up, right?

    (2) WTF? STUPIDITY!!!

  7. Jesus, Walker, you can’t can’t read. It isn’t that the right-wing assholes add DC to Washington; it’s the way they fucking pronounce it. When you’re speaking, you can express a lot of contempt with intonation. When you’re writing, you have add stuff like you fucking moron, you fucking moron.

    1. If that were the argument, she wouldn’t be criticizing David Pfouffe for using the phrase D.C. And she wouldn’t have written, ‘Adding the “D.C.” to Washington every chance they get is part of the Republican code.’

      1. Honest to God, Jesse, your lips must get sore when you do this, but read the whole fucking thing:

        “Haven’t you heard the WAY they speak the name? George W. Bush was a master of this art, adding his best prep school SNEER to the two extra syllables.”

        I’ve put the important words in caps for you. Successfully feeding your confirmation bias requires a little skill, buddy.

        1. Yes, I read that part. Stiehm thinks the way Republicans allegedly pronounce “D.C.” is evidence for her view that the initials are code. But if she was merely complaining about “the way they speak the name” and not about the use of the name itself, she would not have objected when David Pfouffe used the phrase without a sneer.

          As far as “confirmation bias” goes: What bias am I supposed to be confirming here? Do you even know what the phrase means? Here’s a hint: Your ability to perceive confirmation bias in virtually every circumstance is pretty much a textbook case of confirmation bias in action.

    2. Max is right. Republicans pronounce DC as “dick.” That’s got negative connotations.

      1. Preempting ratfucker!!!!!

      2. That’s homophobia, straight up.

    3. Re: Max,

      Jesus, Walker, you can’t can’t read. It isn’t that the right-wing assholes add DC to Washington; it’s the way they fucking pronounce it.

      It’s how they roll their eyes when they pronounce it! It’s the way they place their tongue squarely in their cheeks when pronouncing it!!!

      Max, don’t forget to take your Clozapine… you’re already due.

    4. It isn’t that the right-wing assholes add DC to Washington; it’s the way they fucking pronounce it.

      They say “Washington Dick”? That’s what pronouncing it would mean.

      Never heard anyone do that, but sounds like a nice trend.

    5. My mom pronounces it “Warshington”.

      She also says “Chicargo”.

      1. My mom says “Sibboleth” for some reason. Drives me crazy.

        1. Is she an Ephraimite?

      2. My dad says “Chicargo,” but not “Warshington.”

  8. This guy sounds like Emo Phillips, when he said (during a comedy skit) that a roofer with hammer in hand was clearly saying awful names to him . . . in Morse code.

    1. CALL ME MISTER BUTTERFINGER…

    2. Yes, I really hate accusations of “code words.” The left can call their opponents all sorts of names, but if someone talks about “crime” or “welfare,” well that’s just racism!

  9. There’s also a Washington, PA which causes no end of highway hijinks for people visiting Pittsburgh. My mom asked me if I knew I lived only 20 miles from the capital…

    1. Yep, only it’s pronounced “Warshington” – I know that cause my mom was born there 🙂

    2. Tulpa, you don’t have a mom. You were hatched from the egg of concern.

    3. A quick google search turned up cities named “Washington” in five different states. On the first page.

  10. Could someone let me know the correct, progressive way to refer to our nation’s capital?

    1. The Kremlin?

      1. No. The Kremlin is just a palace/government complex.

        If you want a Russian analogy, Washington D.C.* should be referred to as “the Fourth Rome.”

        *I can get away with it because I’m Canadian and everyone knows Canadians are nice people who don’t make slurs about somebody’s place of residence (unless they are United Statesian.)

    2. Technically, five times a day in the city’s general direction. You can probably get away with three, though.

    3. I like Versailles on the Potomac.

      1. D’ici?

      2. “L’etat, D’ici” actually works.

    4. I’m partial to “that collection of fucktards”, but I’m given to understand it’s rude.

    5. “Not Washington State”.

    6. “The Valhalla of our Dear Leader, where sunshine and goodness shall rain upon us always (Obama willing)”

      1. Mecca? Jerusalem? Rome?

  11. U S News was never a particularly good magazine, but the level of suckitude it has attained lately is truly mindboggling.

    And- instead of D C, perhaps we should refer to it by its proper name, “Dumbfuck Central”.

  12. Fun fact: Washington, NH was once a proposed site for a national radioactive waste storage facility.

  13. Our neighbor to the south also refers to its capital with a suffix: Mexico, DF (Distrito Federal). Suffering from an even shittier government, outsiders refer to its residents as DeFectuosos or DeFeque?os (defected and shitters).

  14. Having a knee-jerk respect for the federal government is a mental disorder and should have its own entry in the DSMIV.

  15. I probably don’t have to spell this out, but here on Planet Earth we call Washington “D.C.” to distinguish it from Washington “state.

    And as a resident of the state of Washington, I’d prefer as much distinguishing as people can muster.

  16. This actually makes sense given how the leftards flipped out whenever a Republican dared to say the Obamessiah’s full middle name.

    1. Hey, is it a coincidence that Obama’s middle initial is the same as Christ’s?

      1. And the same as Bush the Elder.

        1. I’m scared.

      2. You know who else has a name that begins with Obama’s middle initial…

        1. Dear Zod.

  17. “…here on Planet Earth we call Washington “D.C.” to distinguish it from Washington “state.”

    Having grown up in DC, I can tell you that we always called it “DC” just like New Yorkers refer to New York City as the “The City”.

    When you’re in New York State (or Conn.) and somebody tells you they’re going to “The City”, nobody wonders which one–I don’t think that’s a slight to the city…

    And just for the record, everyone allows Maryland a small “D”, as in “Md.” so that the city, state line won’t be easily confused with the name of a doctor.

    Really, it’s no slight.

    When I talk about Dallas being a &$%#hole and how much their football team sucks, that’s totally, seriously meant as an insult…

    Seriously. Dallas sucks.

    1. New Yorkers refer to New York City as the “The City”.

      As a hick from New Mexico I used to get endless joy whenever my New York co-worker referred to “The City” and I’d ask him, “Albuquerque?”

      … Hobbit

  18. I probably don’t have to spell this out, but here on Planet Earth we call Washington “D.C.” to distinguish it from Washington “state.”

    If you’ve spent your entire life on the East Coast, or worst yet, within the five boroughs of NY (or, Yahweh help you, you’ve never set foot off Manhatten), this sentence might make sense.

    To anyone who has actually lived in Washington state, this is a totally Whisky Tango Foxtrot statement.

    1. Whoops, cut and paste fail:

      Meant to put this in italics above as the WTF quote:

      Adding the “D.C.” to Washington every chance they get is part of the Republican code.

  19. As a Washington State resident, I appreciate people making the distinction.

    Recently the search for crypto racists has gone past ridiculous to insanely out of touch with reality.

    1. As one of your Neighbours to the North in British Columbia, I second that.

      Washington is a wonderful state and good to have next door.

  20. As if they are not standing on the ground in this graceful city, under a marble dome inspired by ancient Rome.

    Rome, as in seat of the empire.

  21. I’m from the southeast and referred to Washington, DC as “DC” when I lived in the southeast. Now I live in California and still call it “DC,” as does pretty much everyone I know. Being two states away from Washington State, I’d assume that’s what people meant if they just said “Washington.” It’s really very simple and not at all sinister. Finally, that article is some of the dumbest shit I’ve ever seen.

  22. I’m offended when people say “Miami, Ohio” instead of “Miami.” Have you heard the way they say it?

  23. After a meandering intro (did you know the cities of Madison and Washington “have the sweet scent of democratic government in the autumn air, along with rustling leaves”?)

    When did bullshit get a “sweet scent”?

    I worked in downtown DC for ten years (and everybody called it “DC”, including local TV reporters). There were scents alright, but none of them were “sweet”.

    1. That’s the smell of the decaying corpse of democracy.

  24. Obviously, we need laws prohibiting making fun of our nation’s capitol.

    Unless Republicans have the majority.

    1. I support this!

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