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When US Politicians Don't Mean What They Say

When members of Congress refer to their fellow lawmakers as, "my good friend,” it certainly sounds nice enough.

But, in their new book, Dog Whistles, Walk-Backs & Washington Handshakes, authors Chuck McCutcheon and David Mark offer the not-so-nice meaning behind “my good friend” and other common words and phrases from American politics.

McCutcheon and Mark say members of Congress often use the phrase “my good friend” to refer to a person they do not like. The official may not even be able to stand the "good friend."

Another example of words that mean something different than they appear is: “I want to spend more time with my family.”

Members of Congress often say this when they are resigning or giving up their jobs.

While it is true that members of Congress often spend many days away from their families, the authors say that politicians use this expression when they do not want to give the real reason they are resigning.

The real reason could be that they did something wrong, or they just found out that they are unlikely to win re-election.

However, some government officials say they really mean it when they say they want to spend more time with their family, McCutcheon and Mark added.

McCutcheon and Mark say that words used by government leaders and politicians can be very confusing and their book is an effort to explain the hidden meanings.

Here are some other examples from their book:

Slow walk: To delay something from happening.

Example: When Senate Democrats brought up a bill to reduce climate change, Republican opponents demanded that every page of the 492-page bill be read out loud on the Senate floor.

Officials eventually voted on the bill, but getting there was a slow walk.

Revolving door: This refers to the common practice of going from a government agency that regulates a business or industry to working for that same business or industry.

Critics argue that politicians cannot govern well if they are always passing through the revolving door between government service and the private industry.

Washington handshake: Talking to a person while looking over your shoulder in case a more important person enters the room.

You can be sure that when the more important person arrives, the discussion with the less important person will stop.

This story was originally produced by VOA Learning English.