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“This ungainly formulation, implying that the economy is a fragile orchid needing the tender ministrations of a dedicated gardener, was rarely employed until Bill Clinton ran for president,” Mr. Shapiro says.

“Sadly, this Clinton-ism grew like kudzu. Defending his tax-cutting zeal during an impromptu Sept. 4, 2001, press conference , George W. Bush said, ‘What we ought to be thinking about is: How do we grow the economy of the United States?’ In truth, what presidents ought to be thinking about is: How do we shrink the use of this grating expression?” he says.

CINO-CENTRIC

“If elected RNC chairman, I pledge to you to fully fund our voter registration and GOTV operations starting in 2011. We must never again, and we will not if I am chairman, leave even one victory to chance.”

(Republican National Committee chairman hopeful Maria Cino, in a letter to the membership before the official candidate debate on Monday)

AMERICAN ANTHEMS

Old Glory, apple pie, good old American rock ‘n’ roll remain steadfast in American hearts. But Southeastern Louisiana University communications professor Joseph Burns says Americans can’t quite agree on rock heritage.

What was the first rock song ever issued? Mr. Burns conducted a survey among musicians and academics alike to find the following tunes among popular nominees: “How High the Moon” by Les Paul and Mary Ford; “Boogie Chillen” by John Lee Hooker; “Saturday Night Fish Fry” by Louis Jordan; “The Fat Man” by Fats Domino; “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and the Comets; and “Rocket 88” by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats.

“An argument can be made for and against every song mentioned, but there’s one that fits better than all of those noted: ‘That’s All Right Mama,’ by Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup,” says Mr. Burns, explaining that the 1946 rockabilly tune combines a “blues melody line over top” and possibly the first guitar solo break.

POLL DU JOUR

• 60 percent of Americans feel more optimistic about “what is ahead for the world” in 2011.

• 56 percent say it is “not likely at all” they will make a New Year’s resolution.

• 44 percent plan to make a resolution.

• 17 percent of that group plan to stop smoking, 16 percent to lose weight and 13 percent to spend less.

• 10 percent want to be a “better person,” 8 percent will exercise more, and 6 percent want a “better job.”

Story Continues →