See definition in Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary
Definition of louche in English:
Disreputable or sordid in a rakish or appealing way: the louche world of the theater
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I thought I knew the word “louche” when I read that Sidney Blumenthal had used it for John Boehner in an email unearthed in the Hillary Clinton frolics.
It is a word I would have expected to see describing Noel Coward – his life, his writing – but not John Boehner.
Blumenthal wrote to the Secretary of State:
"Boehner is despised by the younger, more conservative members of the House Republican Conference. They are repelled by his personal behavior. He is louche, alcoholic, lazy, and without any commitment to any principle." He added: "Boehner has already tried to buy the members with campaign contributions and committee assignments, which he has already promised to potentially difficult members. His hold is insecure. He is not [Newt] Gingrich, the natural leader of a 'revolution,' riding the crest into power. He is careworn and threadbare, banal and hollow, holding nobody's enduring loyalty."
I would certainly agree with most of that. Boehner comes off as a stumblebum, a traveling salesman who spent the previous evening in a gin mill. The only definitive thing about him is the hard edge he takes on when talking about President Obama. Boehner and his down-river compatriot Mitch McConnell come off as contemporary border-state versions of the old Deep South - or South Africa. The sneer, the tone. Otherwise, Boehner is inarticulate, inscrutable.
I would expect somebody truly louche to be wearing a top hat or a monocle, a smoking jacket or a cape – not sporting man-tan coloration and slurred speech.
With the clown-car scramble going on at the moment, I would surely settle for louche.
“They may hate the cultural context they now find themselves teaching in, but they love their work. The Achilles’ heel of schoolteachers, one all too easily exploited by politicians, is that they love their students.”
(One of the best reads in the NYT these days is Margaret Renkl, in Nashville. In her latest post, Renkl describes the dedicated core of “born teachers” – the majority, she submits.)
(From Madeleine Albright in one of her final interviews in February):
“Putin is small and pale,” I wrote, “so cold as to be almost reptilian.” He claimed to understand why the Berlin Wall had to fall but had not expected the whole Soviet Union to collapse. “Putin is embarrassed by what happened to his country and determined to restore its greatness.” – Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, recalling her first meeting with the relatively unknown Vladimir Putin in 2000. – The New York Times, Feb. 23, 2022.