At a Town Board meeting last week, Amherst Supervisor Satish Mohan launched an angry tirade about the nature of "dirty politics" in response to accusations by political opponents that he was adding patronage jobs to his 2008 budget.
Mohan said in commentary edited below:
"Has politics become so dirty that we can't think any honest or true things? I have read in Webster's dictionary that the definition of a politician is ... one who pursues personal or partisan gain, often through crafty or dishonest means.
"A politician (should be) one who dedicates himself to public service, does it honestly, diligently and selflessly. I promise to everybody I am working for this definition and I will keep working for this definition."
Curious about Mohan's statement, I opened up Webster's dictionary upon return to the newsroom and, indeed, Mohan quoted Webster's definition of "politician" with great accuracy.
The word "politician" - and especially the phrase "career politician" - has picked up such negative connotations that it's usually found in campaign attack ads leading up to election day.
Seasoned politicians refer to themselves by a different "P" word: public servant. It sounds more noble, honest, and trustworthy.
Why the word games? Will "politician" forever remain a dirty word?
--- Sandra Tan