An “embellishment” gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.

My, this is awkward. Minnesota Senate Majority Leader and DFLer Dean Johnson was heard on tape talking to fellow clergy (he’s also an ordained minister) and saying he’d received assurances from three Minnesota Supreme Court justices that they would not overturn Minnesota’s law preventing same sex marriages. Johnson presumably made this statement to convince the clergy that a constitutional amendment preserving the law isn’t necessary and as an attempt to keep these religious leaders from exhorting their flocks to back the amendment. The problem, of course, is that getting prior commitments from judges on how they’ll rule in advance on a prospective case is considered a big no-no. (Another presumption: the Reverend Senator Johnson has watched the Senate confirmation hearings for justices Roberts and Alito).

Oopsie. This leaves the majority leader with precious little wiggle room between either impugning himself or the State Supreme Court. Into that little space he therefore injected a big word:

Knee-deep in a controversy of his own making, Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson admitted Thursday that he “embellished” a conversation he had with a state Supreme Court justice on whether the court would consider overturning Minnesota law to allow same-sex marriages.

Wow. Eleven letters and three syllables to replace a simple, one-syllable, three-letter word. I always thought shorter words are better; they seem to trip off the tongue more easily and have a better ring to them, but that might just be a false assumption on my part. Let’s test this theory by inserting “embellish” in place of some well-known phrases:

“Father, I cannot tell an embellishment; it was I who cut down the cherry tree.”
— George Washington

“An embellishment gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”
— Sir Winston Churchill

“There are three kinds of embellishments: embellishments, damned embellishments, and statistics.”
— Benjamin Disraeli

“The great masses of the people… will more easily fall victims to a big embellishment than to a small one.”
— Adolf Hitler

“In our country the embellishment has become not just a moral category but a pillar of the State.”
— Alexander Solzhenitsyn

“You told an embellishment, an odious, damned embellishment;
Upon my soul, an embellishment, a wicked embellishment.”
— Shakespeare (Othello to Iago)

“We embellish loudest when we embellish to ourselves.”
— Eric Hoffer

“It is better to be defeated on principle than to win on embellishments.”
— Arthur Calwell

“Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither embellish one to another.”
— Leviticus 19:11

“A faithful witness will not embellish: but a false witness will utter embellishments.”
— Proverbs 14:5

“The photo is a horrible, filthy embellishment…”
Uncle Ben

You know, I think the originals were more accurate. But how’s this for an update on a classic: “Bush embellished, Democrats relished.”


Check out David’s post on the matter over at Our House.

2 thoughts on “An “embellishment” gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.

  1. It also implies there is a nugget of truth in there somewhere, and you just “added” to it. As opposed to making something up out of thin air.

  2. An excellent point, Jeff. I wonder if the “nugget” is “I talk to Supreme Court justices.” Maybe it’s just “I talk.” Maybe it’s just “I.” Or maybe it is all the truth and the denials are the embellishments.

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