: a person preoccupied with arcane details or procedures in a specialized field; broadly:nerd <a policy wonk> <a computer wonk>
A policy wonk will spend all the time in the world or can even reduce complicated policy discussions into a few concise sentences. If needed the policy wonk can lay out the chapter and verse and all the details and calculations that support the policy. They would typically jump at the chance to bring you up to speed and often must be asked to keep it short.
Often people will pose as policy wonks to delude others into thinking that they are truly imbued with the details necessary to help you understand complex policy issues. In school they are the ones who carry around heavy tomes that have no fingerprints except on the shiny new covers. At a drop of a hat they will let you know how smart they are. We have all met these people.
Psuedo-wonks are unmasked when asked simple questions of policy or for backup details. Their standard reply is, “that’s way to complicated for you to understand for for me to take the time to educate you.” We saw that time and time again at the Vice-Presidential debate in Danville, Kentucky, last night.
A true policy wonk will jump at the chance to fill you with the facts, the chapter, the verse, the detailed calculations, or any other manner of detail to have you comprehend the complex issue.
Bill Clinton in the quintessential policy wonk; Paul Ryan is not. Paul Ryan is a wonk wannabe.