Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Moondancing or moonwalking

Just turned on CNN – I seldom do that, but after Stumblerette's post, I somehow hoped I might strike linguistic gold – to hear James Carville interviewing people in Hollywood about what they wanted to hear in the upcoming State of the Union talk. I half heard a guy from Florida made a remark about how Bush needed to "stop moondancing" around Iraq. I've never heard to moondance, can't find it on UrbanDictionary or elsewhere, and can't quite figure out what it means in that context. It was clear that it's a bad thing.

I'm wondering if I misheard moondance for moonwalk (or if the guy misspoke), which would make good sense: That old Michael Jackson move of moving backwards while appearing to move forward fits beautifully.


Anonymous said...

We might forgive your uncertainty here since it WAS the middle of the night.

Mrs. Verb said...

Mrs. Verb reminds you that Van Morrison had a song called Moondance that used to be popular with the young people:
Well, it's a marvelous night for a moondance
With the stars up above in your eyes
A fantabulous night to make romance
neath the cover of october skies
(No, Mrs. Verb doesn't know it by heart; she searched the internets with the google.) But that still doesn't explain its relevance to that awful Mr. Bush.

Ben Zimmer said...

You heard correctly... here's the transcript:

"Oh, my god, we want to hear the president stop moon dancing around Iraqi policy and for Christ's sakes, somebody send out a unifying theme."

I agree there seems to be some influence from moonwalk here... and interestingly enough, moonwalk has been used recently in the context of Iraq policy. From the Nov. 20 Washington Post:

"That combination plan, which one defense official called "Go Big but Short While Transitioning to Go Long," could backfire if Iraqis suspect it is really a way for the United States to moonwalk out of Iraq -- that is, to imitate singer Michael Jackson's trademark move of appearing to move forward while actually sliding backward."

Mr. Verb said...

Beautiful, thanks. I don't know the lag time on their transcripts, but couldn't find that the next morning. So, we've probably got influence from 'moonwalk' blended with 'dancing around an issue' or something similar.