What is Malarkey? The Vice Presidential Debate Glossary

Biden Ryan DebateThursday night’s Vice Presidential Debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan was full of spirited dialogue, quick jabs, and (not-so-) suppressed laughter. It was also full of vocabulary words. In the spirit of too many “I do not think that means what you think it means” moments to count, we’ve compiled a glossary to clarify some of Thursday night’s most loosely-defined buzzwords. 

America /a’merika/ : The country in which we all live, whose best interests we supposedly have in mind. The best place in the whole wide world (unqualifed).

Benghazi /ben’gäze/ : The second-largest city in Libya and the site of an attack that killed four Americans, including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, in September. According to Paul Ryan, it’s a place where we need more Marines. It may or may not have been the site of a “massive intelligence failure” on the United State’s part.

Bibi /b(i)-bi/ : Nickname for Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister. Used by Biden to prove that he is part of the cool kids’ club and in the know.

Facts /fakts/ : Usually, the things that are indisputably the case. In politics, a piece of information with a fluidity of veracity that can be bandied about at will to support one’s ever-changing opinion.

Faith /feyth/ : A strong belief in the doctrines of a religion. Usually, Catholic. Oh — I’m sorry, strike that. Only 24% of Americans are Catholic. What’re all these other faiths, then?


/fis-uhl/ : Adjective describing an atom or element that is able to undergo nuclear fission. It describes an element that has nuclear capabilities, but is not itself a weapon… yet.

Friend /frend/ : A person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection. For Vice President Biden, this term is used loosely and with a healthy does of sarcasm. As used by Biden, synonymous with “this douche to my left.”

Heh-Heh /self-explanatory/ : The noise Ryan makes when he finds something glib, often proceeded by a smirk.

Malarkey /ma-‘lärke/ : Meaningless talk, nonsense. Used in place of “total and complete bulls**t.”

Martha /mär-thä/ : The voice of reason, general reiner-in of malarkey, and the clear winner of Thursday night’s debate. Also, a term the candidates use to interrupt one another.

Sanction /sangk-shuhn/ : In case Ryan was wondering, economic sanctions — which can be limited to certain sectors such as armaments — are domestic penalties applied by one country (or group of countries) on another for a variety of reasons. Economic sanctions include, but are not limited to, tariffs, trade barriers, import duties, and import or export quotas. The definition remains the same, no matter how much Russia may (or may not) water the sanctions down.

Stuff /stuhf/ : See Malarkey, above.

Timeline /’tym lyn/ : A projected timeframe for how long it will take to accomplish a goal. When discussed in the abstract, timelines are very useful things. They prove elusive, however, when sought for increased scrutiny.

Troops /troops/ : A group of soldiers. In this context, specifically, ones who are risking their lives in wars overseas. Troops, it seems, are fickle creatures: always pulling out and going back in. (Wait, that sounds wrong…)

Watered Down /’waw-terd-doun/ : Diluted, weakened, simplified. See also: Compromise.

Weapon /wep-uhn/ : A thing designed or used for inflicting bodily harm or physical damage. Something Iran may or may not possess in four years.

Follow Abbey Stone on Twitter @abbeystone

[Photo Credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images]


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