Today’s word, Potemkin, is an entertaining political term. I have seen it on Boingboing.net many times. Recently it appeared in a post about the governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Grigori Aleksandrovich Potemkin was an 18th century Russian military officer and politician. Who was rumored to have built fake villages along the banks of the Dnieper river in order to impress Empress Catherine II. Potemkin, who had recently conquered the area, wanted to impress Catherine II by demonstrating the value of the area he had captured by showing off a wonderful village.
Today the term potemkin village or just potemkin is used to describe a staged, deceptive or hollow event. Particularly hollow or deceptive political maneuverings.
That brings us to the governator. According to SFGate.com this past May the governor went out to San Jose and filled in a pot hole to demonstrate to the citizens of California the state’s increased spending on transportation projects. As you probably guessed the pot hole was dug by a city crew only a few hours earlier. While it may not be a lie is sure is dirty.
Another BoingBoing post using potemkin directs our attention to stickers you can put on your SUV to make them look like you have been off-roading.
In Potemkin’s defense modern scholars doubt he had a village built. It is more likely he had the villages spruced up a bit and may have passed off a few unfinished projects as finished.