Remember how Barack Obama gave that inspiring speech in which he pointed out that what William Faulkner wrote back in 1951 — "the past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past" — was still totally true today? Obviously he was totally right. The past isn't past; but it is (if you have been watching cable news anyway) most emphatically post-. We are post-feminist, post-political, post-Sex & The City, post-9/11. I am almost tempted to call it the "OMG So Over It Already! Election," except we are venturing into a post-OMG era. On Monday night we watched the "fresh" new MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow get props from some obsequious guest for coining the term "post-rational" to describe all this madness. That was ridiculous enough to seem "post-"something in itself, so we took the opportunity to put together a post-linear, post-chronological (and, of course, post-rational) post giving you a brief history of our favorite "post-" terms of this campaign (and all time.)
POST-PARTISAN References in broadcast news: 279, about 95% in reference to the Obama campaign. First major coinage of term to describe someone famous: CNN's Inside Politics, July 1995, by Chuck Kelly, director of a group attempting to draft Colin Powell to run for president. In reference to: Colin Powell duh! Other major post-partisans of recent broadcast news history: Arnold Schwarzenegger, George magazine.
POST-FEMINIST References: 179, about 50% in reference to the problem of younger women not reflexively supporting Hillary Clinton because she is a girl. First major coinage of term to describe someone famous: The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, July 1991 In reference to: The movie Thelma & Louise. Other major post-feminists of recent broadcast news history: Carrie Bradshaw (duh), Julia Stiles in 10 Things I Hate About You, like every chick lit author (again duh), and Hillary Clinton herself, by Candy Crowley in 1992. (She wore headbands then and it confused people!)
POST-POLITICAL References: 158 What the fuck does it even mean? "Post-political" is like the "post-partisan" of people too stupid to know what "partisan" means, and also of politicians recognizable to people too stupid to know what party they represent, and also of politicians who appear quite possibly more stupid than the people too stupid to know what party they represent. (Ahem.) Bobos In Paradise author and New York Times columnist David Brooks, a conservative who seems to have been rendered somewhat "post-political" himself by the post-9/11 post-logic of the post-"'Reality'-based community", threw the term around to describe swing voters in the lead-up to the 2004 election; last night Chris Matthews referred to post-drunk/post-womanizer and pre-posthumous Senator Ted Kennedy as "almost post-political now."
POST-RACIAL References: 353 Lemme guess…Michael Jordan? Pharrell? Actually, the only references to "post-racial" I found in the transcripts pre- its association with Barack Obama mostly echo this quote from a pollster talking to NPR's Ray Suarez in 1999:
We're not living in some post-racial age in the ballot box yet.
Ha! How quickly the past is post!
POST-CHRISTIAN References: 131 Really? Yeah, and they pretty much all refer to Europe and how hurricanes and tornadoes only happen in America because we are turning into them. Absurd exception that proves rule: U.S. News writer Dan Gilgoff's observation on NPR that the Saddleback Forum, wherein our two presidential candidates were grilled on their views on when embryos acquire "souls" and whatnot, was "supposed to be a sort of post-Christian right forum." And finally, our — and Maddow's — fave…
POST-RATIONAL References: Just 3! First pundit to rip off the term and attempt to pass it off as the "conventional wisdom": Who else? What it supposedly refers to: Hillary Clinton, pre-dropping out of the race and either post-Super Tuesday or post-another one of those primaries after which everyone declared she was mathematically doomed, in addition to all the crazy women (namely Geraldine Ferraro but also that mediocre black man lady) who went on Fox News post-Hillary's concession to express their feminist support for John McCain. But really, it works for many aspects to this campaign: Obama Girl! Operation Chaos! The fact that I know who Heidi Fucking Montag supports!?