Back in August, New York Times assistant managing editor for standards Philip Corbett wrote a blog post about how the paper needed to stop saying 'hipster" so much. "Hipster's second life as hip slang seems to have lost its freshness," Corbett observed at the time. "And with so many appearances, I'm not sure how precise a meaning it conveys. It may still be useful occasionally, but let’s look for alternatives and try to give it some rest."
Its meaning is likely to get even more imprecise now Times politics writer Matt Bai has fallen off the wagon and used the word to describe former President John F. Kennedy, a man historians agree hated skinny jeans and thought Girl Talk was just okay. The reference came in Bai's piece today about the possibility of Barack Obama facing a primary challenge in 2012. Writes Bai:
Of course, Mr. Obama is only the latest in a long line of Democratic presidents, going back to Franklin D. Roosevelt to disappoint the liberal wing of his party and to at least hear rumblings of a challenge. In 1960, the hipster John F. Kennedy represented for liberals something similar to what Mr. Obama embodied as a candidate; two years later, the writer Norman Mailer acidly concluded that Kennedy stood for nothing but the pursuit of power, "without light or principle."
Why even include the noun adjunct in the first place? Plus, wasn't Kennedy more of a hepcat?