Deep dive. A cliché for “in-depth examination” that has migrated from the business world into politics. It’s becoming especially common these days as media outlets ramp up comprehensive probes into the presidential candidates’ pasts.
Within corporate circles, “deep dive” has been a source of increasing irritation. Last year, a survey of human resource managers by the accounting staffing service Accountemps named it one of the most 20 annoying workplace buzzwords and phrases, joining such teeth-grinding expressions as “out of pocket,” “forward-thinking” and “pick your brain.”
As The Economist's language column once noted: “There’s something athletic, soulful even, about the thought of physically diving into a spreadsheet, kicking around in its dusky deep columns, paddling lazily through the surf of numbers, digging for hidden gems among its pivot tables, and coming up for air gasping but ecstatic, with the decimal points cascading down your forehead. It could be a subtle signal to colleagues of the effort you are about to make as you hold your breath and plunge into the numbers. Or maybe it’s nothing more than an attempt to romanticize to yourself what is otherwise a soul-deadening activity.”
Journalist Peter Schweizer’s new book “Clinton Cash” has been described again and again as a “deep dive” into whether foreign entities sought to influence Hillary Rodham Clinton when she was secretary of State through extremely generous speaking fees to her husband. Schweizer said that while he found no evidence of a quid pro quo between those entities and the Democratic frontrunner, his findings merit further diving. Conservative blogger Ed Morrissey wondered if Jeb Bush might be affected: “There may be almost as many Republicans looking forward to a deep dive on Jeb’s finances as there were for the one on the Clintons, thanks to the realities of competitive primaries and dynasty fatigue.”
When Clinton announced her candidacy, political blogger Chris Weigant observed that everything about her would be “microscopically analyzed within an inch of its life.” He added dismissively: “Most of these deep-dive analyses won’t make a tiny bit of difference in the long run…. But it’ll certainly give all the pundits something to do in the meantime.”
But the use of the phrase goes well beyond Clinton, of course. Earlier this month, the Pew Research Center released its thorough analysis into Democratic and Republican Party public-identification trends, “A Deep Dive Into Party Affiliation.” Members of a new watchdog group charged with ensuring that US counterterrorism efforts don’t infringe on civil liberties promised “deep dives” into surveillance programs. California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, discussing the need to delve into the accidental killing of an America hostage in recently revealed drone strikes against al Qaeda, said: “I have asked the agency to come in to give me a deep dive on the operation and suspect that other members will want the same.”
And in ensuring that President Obama isn’t seen as too much of a lame duck, his aides have rolled out a new media strategy that involves him hobnobbing with federal workers and others in small settings. “It’s thinking about a way to create an environment where you can have a deep-dive discussion with people who care about these issues,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki told Politico.
Chuck McCutcheon and David Mark write their "Speaking Politics" blog exclusively for Politics Voices.