Political Language, Demystified

Have you ever listened to someone talk about politics and wondered what they are talking about? What is an "October surprise"? What is a "motor voter"? Politics creates the worst kind of inside jargon imaginable, because it's a jargon that describes important processes affecting how things are run, whether the U.S. invades other countries, and what our tax rates are. A particularly apt observer once referred to the dialect on Capitol Hill, where all 535 lawmakers are referred to by last name only (sort of like at all boys prep school), as "hobbit speak"; that's about how esoteric political conversations can get.

No more! Thankfully, Taegan Goddard of Political Wire has started an online politics dictionary, which demystifies the language of power. You can get handy definitions like this one:

Farley file

A Farley file is a log kept by politicians on people they have met previously.

It's named for James Aloysius Farley, who was Franklin Roosevelt's campaign manager and later became chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Farley kept a file on anyone Roosevelt met allowing him to "remember" key personal details such as the name of their spouse and children or anything useful which might have come out of earlier meetings.

Farley files are now commonly kept by politicians. 

Check out the full dictionary here.