In a speech in Virginia on October 19, Barack Obama riffed on the term Romnesia to accuse his Republican opponent of forgetfulness over previous policy statements. He wasn’t the first to use the word. The American news organisation carried the headline “A Case of Romnesia” in June 2012, and George Monbiot wrote an article about it in The Guardian on September 25. A flick through dictionaries finds plenty of political eponyms: Bushism, Thatcherite, Reaganomics (interestingly, no Australian examples spring to mind). Unsuccessful candidates are less likely to generate words that endure in our vocabulary. The verb to palin, meaning variously “to stumble in an interview”, “make a career-ending mistake”, or “have your email hacked” had a brief currency in the previous US election. With no lasting legacy, it’s hard to associate a politician’s name with a particular sense. In Monbiot’s article, Romnesia is given the specific definition “the ability of the very rich to forget the context in which they made their money”, and Gina Rinehart is also diagnosed with the condition. Unless Mitt Romney makes a lasting impression on the political landscape, we’re all likely to be equally forgetful about this word.

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