Quote: “I’m a dead man.” Lobbyist Brent R. Wilkes in the New York Times.
Figure of Speech: enallage (en-ALL-a-gee), the grammatical swap.
Brent Wilkes is a master at what he calls “transactional lobbying.” For a mere $706,000 in “campaign contributions,” he and his firm received $100 million in federal defense contracts earmarked quietly into law. Wilkes drives a black Hummer cutely adorned with the license plate “MIPR ME.” The acronym stands for “military interdepartmental payment request,” a.k.a. big-time payoff.
But the fun is over; a plea agreement signed by crooked Congressman Randy Cunningham names him as “co-conspirator No. 1.” Wilkes naturally denies any wrongdoing, but the plea makes him radioactive. He describes his condition with an enallage (“switch”), a figure that swaps one tense, case or mood for another. Not I’m gonna die, but I’m dead. Then again, maybe he is a dead man. In Washingtonese, that means “won’t get phone calls returned.”
They say if you want a friend in that town, get a dog. Figaro thinks that would be cruel.
Snappy Answer: “Don’t get our hopes up.”