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Harvey Gotliffe, Ph.D. Headshot

Candidates Who Are Skittish, Should Campaign in Yiddish

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With the upcoming election of 435 members of Congress, 33 U.S. Senators, and one president in fewer than seven weeks, it seems like many of the voting electorate are once more befuddled by their lack of a viable, knowledgeable choice.

This apathy is exacerbated by a bipartisan electioneering condition, better known as foot in-the-mouth-disease, which starts with each candidate's foreign policy -- or lack of a cohesive one.

President Obama has an ambiguous, let's-not-pressure-our-friends-or-enemies-with-anything-more-than-a-friendly-warning-or-finger-wagging, policy. Romney, the GOP candidate, lacks any foreign policy, and his travels outside of the United States had been confined primarily to countries where he may (or may not) have had a bank account. He won't tell us.

His earliest forays into foreign territory would most likely have been taking the Ambassador Bridge from Detroit and crossing into Windsor, Ontario as an underage Michigander. Like many fellow teens from the suburbs, myself included, our purpose was not to learn foreign policy, but to acquire a cool Canadian beer on a hot and humid summer's night.

Romney is proud of his elite upbringing, and nearly joined Donald Trump as a "birther" when he shamelessly stated at a Michigan rally that he knows that he was born at Harper Hospital in Detroit in the US of A.

He also jumped foot first into proclaiming his all-American credentials during the recent Middle East riots, and then made sure that Jewish voters of America know of his true colors concerning Israel. His Rosh Hashanah video message, as reported by the Forward Jewish newspaper, included a not-too-subtle reference to get Jewish voters to think about electing a new leader who believes that "a free and strong America will always stand with a free and strong Israel." He even visited Israel earlier this year to gain some basic knowledge about the tumultuous Middle East.

Obama, Romney and those Democrats and Republicans running for Congress and the Senate would do better with taped videos and position papers written by their chosen experts. Once they start talking extemporaneously in English, they become nervous and deliver a disheveled message, as if they ever had a cohesive one.

The solution is for candidates to learn enough Yiddish to cover their tushes when they are being interviewed. It may be by intrepid and knowledgeable reporters (and there are still a few around), or even by well-groomed pretenders working at Fox News.

When a candidate is feeling awkward and zitsin oyf shpilkes -- sitting on pins and needles, it's best not to makhn a tsimis -- make a big deal about a subject they know little or nothing about.

They should just transition into Yiddish and describe their opponent's opinion as er redt narishkeyt -- he talks nonsense. If their opponent disparages them, they should dismiss the comments and take the high road with a nisht geferllekh -- it doesn't really matter.

If an opponent magnifies a slip of the tongue, they can throw out the inaccuracies by proclaiming the opposition is making a gantse megile -- a big deal -- out of a minor point.

Although it is tempting to do, a candidate should be sure to avoid a public offering of keyn eyn hore, no evil eye, and instead show that they are above the pettiness by saying loz em geyn -- let them be.

While a candidate may wish that their opponent would just gey avek -- go away -- when you are in mitn derinen -- the middle of an election -- it's best to remain shtark vi ayzn -- strong like iron. That's what the people look for in a leader.

There's even a guide on election-time Yiddish expressions found here, and it can help any skittish candidate avoid much of the narishkeyt.

When the election is over, and the losing candidate may be moaning oy vey -- oh woe -- the rest of us should be able to joyously exclaim on November 7th, ot azoy! -- Way to go!