The headline of Amy Silverman’s long article in the Phoenix New Times yesterday reads: “Postmodern John McCain: the presidential candidate some Arizonans know—and loathe.”
Apparently, editors just can’t keep their hands off the word. Why it’s a tempting headline to slap on is anyone’s guess. Because for in-the-now reporting, blanket use of the word “postmodern” offers about as much clarity on the political process as a pair of fogged-up glasses helps you to see.
It’s particularly unfortunate because Silverman’s article is strong, characterizing McCain through his years as an Arizona politician and offering a perspective that only a reporter who has covered the senator locally would be able to provide. Her portrait is of a Vintage McCain, not a particularly Postmodern one. (The only mention of the word in the article itself is silly, but excusable: “It could be that in this postmodern political world, there’s not much you can say anymore that will get the attention of the American people.”) So why not nix the misleading headline and leave the vague modifiers for the university tweeds?