Posted by: Jack Henry | November 8, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Sausage-Making

My first real job many, many years ago, was in a butcher shop. I was 15½ years old, so I didn’t get to do any cutting or chopping—I just got to clean the saws, grinder, and rotisserie; rake up the fallen “parts” in the sawdust; and dance in the dumpster to make room for more garbage.

Anyway, the other day, one of our clients wrote to me about the term “sausage-making.” Oh yeah, that’s its own special kind of fun in the meat department. But she was saying that she heard it being used in conjunction with politics, so I thought I better find out more about this term.

The most lengthy reference I found was on a blog about political terms and clichés, including sausage-making. While I won’t comment on the politics, I will give you the usage and definition of this term by providing some excerpts.

Legislation is like sausage. You want the outcome but you don’t want to see how it’s made.

When the intricacies of one proposed health-care model [KC – Or any political issue and legislation.] get too complicated to discuss any further, the commentator dismisses the line of discussion with, It’s all part of the sausage-making process.

Clearly, sausage-making has become a conventionalized term, a micro-cliché meant to encapsulate both the ugliness of the legislative process as well as the implication that the public would be better off not knowing about this ugliness. Like most clichés, it started with a clever idea but has now become a lazy shorthand, an expression that permits us not to dwell too long on its meaning.

Here’s a word to the wise: never eat anything called ham salad.

Thank you to Mr. Hooper for sending this our way!

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

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