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    Dead Men Don't Say "I'm a Dead Man"

    zombie_lobby.jpgQuote:  “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.”

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