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Goodbye, Old Paint



I've read that the abbreviation "GOP," short for "Grand Old Party," a nickname of the Republican Party, may be on the way out, some newspapers now banning it. (A fan of GOP says he's heard that newspapers may be on the way out.) GOP has long been beloved of pundits and, especially, headline writers. It fits the available space better than "Republicans" or "Republican Party."

Though GOP's been around a long time, some editors apparently are objecting that many readers don't know what the letters stand for. That's true, but then it's always been true, and most people who read the kind of articles that use "GOP" learn pretty quickly who it refers to. William Safire is supposed to have said that he knew what a DVD was even though he didn't know what the letters stood for.

Part of the problem may be that there's no comparable term for Democrats, although I'm pretty sure I've seen "Dems" in headlines, but that too wouldn't be greatly missed. I never got in the habit of using GOP. I always thought it smacked of journalese; you never heard anybody say GOP on the street. Besides, the Republican Party is not particularly old, as political parties go — the Democratic Party is much older — and I never found it particularly grand, though some of its members were. And it's getting less grand every day. The party of Dwight Eisenhower seems noble by comparison.

Apparently, "Grand Old Party" was first used in the 1880s by Republican-leaning newspapers, which most newspapers were (and are). I looked for some ringing quotation connected to it, something like "Give me the Grand Old Party or I'll kick your butt. — James G. Blaine." But I couldn't find one. Lincoln was the first and last Republican who could say things worth remembering.

"The motto for the Boy Scouts of America is 'Be prepared.' Because of incorrect information from The New York Times, the motto was incorrectly stated in an article Friday about the group's decision to allow gay youths to participate in its activities." It's not "Take it easy"?

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