As is the case with many Yiddish nouns, the denotation of mishegoss rarely does justice to its connotation. The denotation (relying, as usual, on The Joys of Yiddish by Leo Rosten) is "insanity" or "madness;" but one does not invoke this noun (or its adjectival form, meshugge) in the interests of clinically certifiable conditions. The connotation has more to do with that colloquial rhetorical question, "Are you out of your mind?" For example, the knee-jerk response of declaring the slightest hint of disagreement with Israeli policy (particularly a policy supported by AIPAC) as anti-Semitic should, by all rights, count as textbook mishegoss; but of course, to continue the Yiddish lesson, to describe such behavior as mishegoss in a public forum (even one as modest as this blog) would probably be characterized as chutzpah by AIPAC lobbying interests. Needless to say, it takes an organization like AIPAC to inspire the confluence of mishegoss and chutzpah, particularly on a day like today, when Senator John McCain addressed their annual convention in Washington. Of course, being a lobbying organization, AIPAC has made it a point to invite the two Democratic contenders for the White House, as well as McCain.
Last year they invited Nancy Pelosi, and she had the chutzpah to deliver some straight talk about Iraq (straighter than some of her more recent talk), which earned her "catcalls and boos," as was reported in The Hill. My guess is that Senator Hillary Clinton is not going to court a similar response, particularly in light of some of her past AIPAC involvements. So it will be up to that meshuggener Senator Barack Obama and the chutzpah of his meshugge position on meeting with the government of Iran, particularly with that other meshuggener, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose latest proclamation was reported for Reuters by Hossein Jaseb and Fredrik Dahl:
Iran's president said on Monday Israel would soon disappear off the map and that the "satanic power" of the United States faced destruction, in his latest verbal attack on the Islamic Republic's arch-enemies.
Is the Obama audacity strong enough to stand up to accusations of mishegoss? I sure hope that it is and that he realizes that, even where AIPAC is involved, throwing his lot in with McCain and Clinton could be a perilous decision. However, disappointing she may have been in other matters, Pelosi is the right role model. Besides, McCain probably can't even pronounce mishegoss, let alone spell it in the proper alphabet!