The Corner


Does anyone here know why we use the same word to describe political and military phenomena? I assume the word crossed over from war to politics, but when? Is there a story here? The question came to mind when I was thinking about the political journalist’s habit–of which I am certainly guilty–of using words such as “attacked,” “returned fire,” “took flak,” “shelled,” “came under a heavy barrage,” etc., when what is meant is generally “criticized” or “was criticized.” Is this common usage the result of a journalistic tendency toward hyperbole, or something deeper?

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.