Albion Monitor /Commentary

Hillary's Okey-Dokey

by Jim Tynen

There's something likable about someone who says "okey-dokey artichokey"

(AR) PITTSBURGH -- There goes my last shot at the presidency.

My daily newspaper recently included, in a diatribe against Hillary Clinton, that she often says -- I hope you'll forgive me for repeating this expletive -- "okey-dokey artichokey."

Hey, what's wrong with "okey-dokey artichokey"? First of all, this is the only endearing thing I (for one) have ever heard about Mrs. Clinton. Whether it is superlatives from the left or brickbats from the right, she is usually described in the warm glowing terms one reserves for a sci-fi movie's android. She is either the most brilliant mass of protoplasm ever gathered together in one organism, or else the most evil being since Lucifer voluntarily resigned from Heaven, citing creative conflicts over the future direction of the cosmos.

But there's something likable about someone who says "okey-dokey artichokey." This is a human being who sometimes just likes to say something a bit different from the ordinary cliches. Someone who just likes to say something corny, even if it is not likely to win her any points in the opinion polls, or sway focus groups.

Bob Dole acted like a human being on a talk show, and he's been paying the price ever since

How rarely do we get that. As Russell Baker has noted, Bob Dole acted like a human being when a talk show host ambushed him, and he's been paying the price ever since. No, we don't want our leaders to be human beings. We prefer them to be automatons, ceaselessly laboring to do more for us without causing us any work or bother. Indeed, if our leaders were human beings, we would be obliged to guide them, supervise them, help them. Good grief, we might have to stop watching TV for a moment.

I'm biased, I admit. I myself like to say "okey-dokey smokey." I could probably find a professor who would say that "smokey" is entirely different etymologically from "artichokey." But I will not try that easy way out. I will confess they are the same. Having conceded that, I'm not sure why I, or Mrs. Clinton, feel we have to dress up the perfectly acceptable "O.K."

Perhaps, as conservatives might allege, we have a fatal tendency to constantly tinker and fiddle with things that don't need changing. Plain old "O.K." isn't enough for us. We have to fuss around and mess around. First it's with "O.K.," then it's with the health care system.

I suppose that's true enough. Maybe "O.K." needs some re-energizing. How many times a day does the average American say "O.K.?" It must be getting old and worn out. We need a national initiative to revive and update "O.K." We need a multi-billion-dollar federal program to modernize "O.K." for all Americans ...

Whoa, hold it. Gosh, it's easy to slip into liberalism. I had better get myself together.

There, that's better. Well, anyway, let it be conceded that "okey-dokey artichokey/smokey" is the sign of a person who just can't resist improving the world a bit whether or not the world needs or wants improving. Those of us who say "okey-dokey smokey (or artichokey)" want to jazz up the world a bit; we want to add little flash wherever we can. We will even risk being corny. I say "okey-dokey smokey" and I'm proud of it. The world may be a cornier place because of it, but it's also a little bit livelier. "Okey-dokey smokey" is just a tiny attempt to make the world a bit more fun and a bit more human.

The only drawback is that, if I run for president, the press will be all over me for saying "okey-dokey smokey." The conservatives will be on my case for my disrespect of the time-honored "O.K." The liberals will hound me for my blatantly WASPy slang. No, I wouldn't stand a chance in an election.

And, frankly, after seeing what presidential candidates and their wives have to go through, that's just ... hunky-dory with me.

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Albion Monitor August 1, 1996 (

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