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Another Politician in the World

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Garry Kasparov just got into NY. He was recognized by the immigration agent when coming through the airport. (First time ever here, he said. The guy was Polish.) He asked Garry what he should put under "profession" now that he's retired. They decided on "politician," so I guess it's official!


He's not a politician until he gets paid for it - right now he's just opinionated! I think 'writer' would have been more appropriate since his current occupation is (co-)author of chess books.

Politician! Many political activists both in our republican and democratic parties (USA) are un-paid!
And there are also many that are seeking their first elected office every year! (First political pay-check if elected!) Kasparov does not seem to be involved with becoming an elected official, but more as the activist. Changes need to take place in Russia (as well as USA) as freedoms are being replaced by state mandates.

At last in Italy, the word "politician" (we say "uomo politico" that is "politic man")is used to indicate the profession of a man when this guy is REALLY unable to do anything else.
"What's your job, what do you do to make a living ?"
"Oh, you know...mmm...I'm interest in politic. Oh yes I am a politic man!"
"WOW! That's really good! Congratulations !!!"

I'd like to know from you, Mig, and from you, world chess bloggers, if this is the same in Russia and/or in USA: if yes the word "politician" does not fit Garry just becouse we all know that he is able to do something else and to do it quite well :-) And do not ask me the names of the politician I know.

The US maintains the illusion that we have "citizen statesmen"--that is, that politics is NOT a fulltime career, but just a civic duty. So President Jimmy Carter continued to refer to himself as a peanut farmer, President Reagan as an actor, and so on.

In fact, the term "professional politician," while not having the same meaning you describe in Italy, would be someone who was regarded as untrustworthy because he/she was ONLY interested in getting elected, not in the service aspects.

I worked very brifly in Washington for a Cognressional Representative. I didn't know of any of them who would say their occuaption was "politician"--they all put things like "lawyer," "author," "business executive," etc. even if they'd been on the Hill for 30 years.

So it wasn't about what they got paid for. Rather it was that "poitician" is considered a different type of activity than a career.

"Political researcher," "Political analyst," and "Political commentator" would all be "respectable" careers, though. It's just "politician" by itself that isn't generally used except in a negative sense.

It's also acceptable for someone who holds a current office to list that office's title. So you do on occasion see "occupation: US Senator" or "Occupation: Governor." This is particularly true on a ballot, where they want to get the advantage of being the incumbent. But NOT "Occupation: politician."

And even then, incumbents often list two occupations: "Occupation: US Senator, dairy farmer," or "Occupation: US Representative, teacher," etc. George Bush lists his occupation as "US President, businessman." Never "politician."

In GM Kasparov's case, I'd use either "author" or "political analyst." Or even both: "author, political analyst."

"Activist" and "Community Organizer" are somtimes used by radicals, but I don't think they'd be appropriate for him.


"No no no you don't understand the way radio works."

The great thing about this particular universe is that (when you are very fortunate) you get to participate in your own destiny. A very minor consequence: You get to pick your job title, even if you aren't paid for it. Money's got nothin' to do with it. Anyone who tells you otherwise is just trying to hold you back.

Also I have to pass along a little joke. I'm afraid it's at Mr. Kasparov's expense so I'll state that I didn't make the joke and I hope Mr. Kasparov is able to do some good with his new direction. But it's too good not to re-tell, a quick conversation between me and my friend Matt who also plays chess.

Me: Did you hear Kasparov retired?

Matt: Yeah I heard. But to do what?

Me: Oh he wants to get into politics. Particularly his aim is to oppose Putin's dictatorial rule in Russia.

Matt: You know if he really wants to bring down Putin's organization what he should do is join it.

Duif makes a strong point about the illusory stated occupations of high-level US political figures. But in career twilight, it must change for some:

Kissinger: "International Fugitive"
Thatcher: "Ghastly Old Speechgiver"
John Paul II: "Sickly Autocrat"

But for Kasparov, "Itinerant Prevaricator" would be quick, sassy and accurate.

Kasparov should have done what Eric Clapton did under the same circumstances: When filling out the form at an airport immigration window, the guitarist wrote down, for his occupation, "Legend."

When asked about Jesse Jackson's candidacy for president, Detroit mayor Coleman Young replied,
"Before he runs for president he ought to run something besides his mouth."

Great line...Coleman Young rocked Detroit.


In Brazil, people at Congress don’t like to be called “politician”. The term designates someone who has a mandate now, but can also be used with a pejorative meaning, to designate someone who concerns about little besides being elected.

It is a great insult to call someone a “professional politician”. It means that this person would sell his mother to be elected. (well, perhaps some really would)

I wonder what he could get for Klara. Maybe we'll find out.


I have a title/occupation for Ficher: "Master of the Known universe"

He's probably more of a politician then half of Washington.

With a nod to Mel Brooks I would suggest the job title: Standup Philospher (tho Bea Arthur may have other ideas!) :-)

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on March 16, 2005 8:58 PM.

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