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TPM’s Glossary Of Josh Marshallisms

A partial and continually updated glossary of Josh Marshallisms (or, more broadly, TPMisms).



appreciate the congrats: What you say when you’ve done something really awesome. An homage to Trump’s memorable response to the Pulse nightclub shooting: “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!”

the Aqua-Duke: The boat on which Randy “Duke” Cunningham lived, owned by defense contractor Mitchell Wade. Also, more formally, known as the Duke-Stir.

Bamboozlepalooza: The George W. Bush administration’s attempt to privatize Social Security, early in its second term, while refusing to level with the public about the impact of what it was doing. Also, the insistence that the wildly unpopular idea was, in fact, broadly popular.

the Brittle Grip: The growing insecurity of the very wealthy, even as the yawning gap in economic and political power between the rich and poor continues to widen.

the Comey myth: The public perception of James Comey as an apolitical man of independence and integrity. Comey is the chief author of the Comey Myth.

the Conscience Caucus: Those Republicans in Congress who resisted George W. Bush’s administration’s attempt to privatize social security.

the Dead Ted Bounce: A brief period during the 2016 Republican primary during which Ted Cruz, despite his generally agreed upon unlikeability, appeared to have more popular support than Trump because of his campaign’s superior ground game.

the DeLay Rule: The GOP once prohibited anyone indicted for a felony from serving in a leadership position; the DeLay Rule allowed them to do so right up until the day they were convicted. The rule, coincidentally, was rolled out after former House majority leader Tom DeLay was indicted in Texas for an alleged money laundering scheme.

detecting a black hole: Astronomers cannot see black holes directly; instead, they map them by measuring their effect on surrounding matter. We don’t know the facts or motivations at the center of many Trump administration scandals, but we can understand their size, scope, and magnitude by how everything they touch bends around them.

dignity wraiths: Men and women of once-vaunted reputations who have been reduced to mere husks of their former selves through their association with Trump.

dominance politics: A political attack meant to show an opponent’s lack of toughness or strength by demonstrating that they are either unwilling or unable to defend themselves; a politics derived from the inherent appeal of power and the ability to dominate others. (Formerly known as “the bitch slap theory of politics.”)

the Fainthearted Faction: A segment of Congress made up of those Democratic senators and representatives who appeared willing to go along with George W. Bush in privitizing Social Security.

feral dweebs: Those who make up the unending stream of white supremacist, incel and conspiracy theory-addled mass shooters or would-be mass shooters.

militant ignorance: Trump’s enthusiastic and aggressive lack of self-awareness about his ignorance.

the nonsense debt: The problem faced by a GOP establishment that has for years fed its voters garbage now that said garbage has been weaponized, more effectively, by libertine billionaire Donald Trump and his cadre of con artists. (Related term: “the hate debt.”)

phoney-baloneyism: Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s primary ideology.

the rump: The weirdest, most fire-breathing portion of the GOP. Embodied at different times by different spokespeople and movements, including the Tea Party, the Freedom Caucus, and, later, Trumpism.

Schrödinger’s bus: A situation in which a foundational instability is created by people simultaneously being on President Trump’s team and under the bus depending on the context. (See also: “underbusing.”)

Schrödinger’s DHS secretary: A legal defense employed by the Trump administration that posits that Chad Wolf may or may not have been legally appointed as acting DHS secretary, but that, in the event that he wasn’t, FEMA administrator Pete Gaynor was actually the acting secretary and subsequently ceded his position to Wolf and that, regardless, the acting DHS secretary’s orders are legal.

tire-swinging: When a reporter has gotten way too cozy with a politician, and their reporting becomes insipid because of it.

the Trump Dignity-Loss Event Horizon: The point of no return for a person who once enjoyed public respect, beyond which they are caught within Trump’s orbit and become a dignity wraith. (See also: “dignity wraiths.”)

Trump’s Razor: According to Trump’s Razor, the stupidest possible scenario that can be reconciled with the available facts is also, most likely, the truth.

the Trump Attack Haiku: A Twitter-based, 140- or 280-character insult haiku pioneered by President Donald Trump. It tends to follow this form: Single clause declarative sentence, single clause declarative sentence, primary adjective/term of derision. Note that not every attack haiku follows the exact metrical progression.

underbusing: A common Trump administration tactic for shifting blame to one’s rivals within the administration.

Up-Is-Downism: When a political operative declares the opposite of what is true to, in fact, be true.

the weaponization of military sacrifice: The way in which Trump and his supporters frame dissent of all sorts as an attack on people who have sustained injuries or lost their lives in defense of the country.

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