Bring back bad words!

Tired of the politics of euphemism? Here are a few Cold War throwbacks I’d like to see re-enter the political lexicon:

Regime change/Overthrowing leaders we don’t like

Enhanced interrogation methods/Torturing people

Bringing terrorists to justice/Killing terrorists, or if that fails, torturing them

Mistakes were made/FUBAR

The Commander-in-Chief threshold/ Pinko-Commie

Pledged delegates/Delegates

Superdelegates/Party Bosses

Convention/The back room

HRC ad: child sleeps as red phone rings/ LBJ ad: Child picks daisy as nuclear bomb blows up the world

Author: Amy Zegart

Amy Zegart is a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. She is also a faculty affiliate at the Center for International Security and Cooperation and a professor of political economy at the Stanford Graduate School of Business (by courtesy). Her research examines national security agencies, American foreign policy, and anything scary. Academic publications include two award-winning books: Spying Blind, which examines intelligence adaptation failures before 9/11, and Flawed by Design, which chronicles the evolution of America’s national security architecture. She is currently working on a book about intelligence in the post-9/11 world. Zegart writes an intelligence column at, and her pieces have also appeared in the Washington Post, New York Times, and Los Angeles Times. Previously, she taught at UCLA and worked at McKinsey & Company. A former Fulbright Scholar, she received an A.B. in East Asian Studies from Harvard and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford. A native Kentuckian, she loves to watch good college football and bad reality TV.