Checking out the redesigned New Republic today, I came across this bizarre sentence in an essay by Michael Kinsley:
At this point, before he remarried, [Edward] Kennedy’s dual reputation for girth and senatorial statesmanship had not yet overcome his reputation as a party boy.
What does “girth” mean in this context? I honestly have no idea. I just checked Chambers (no OED unfortunately), and have found these two nouns*:
So Kennedy had a reputation for being in possession of a (presumably large) waist? This has got to be the most circumspect way of calling someone fat I’ve ever run across in (pseudo) print.
As for “senatorial statesmanship,” I’m thinking this is just some kind of lazy attempt at “style”: alliteration and all that. But since senator was the only office Kennedy ever held, his “reputation” as a statesman could never been anything but “senatorial,” making “senatorial statesmanship” a tautology to boot.
* Urban Dictionary (to which I shall refrain from linking) tells me that there are, ahem, other definitions as well. . .
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