Obama Lexicon

Friday, 8 January 2010

I’ve no­ticed that Obama’s stock turns of phrase ap­pear more and more of­ten on blogs and com­ing from state­ments from other folks all over the place. To doc­u­ment, these are:

  • Let’s be clear
  • Make no mis­take

I don’t be­lieve this is con­fir­ma­tion bias. They’re used in the same rhetor­i­cal con­texts, for the most part. It’s a sub­con­scious sign that the per­son speak­ing or writ­ing has a deep re­spect for (and very likely looks up to) the President.

Personally, I like it when he talks about teach­able mo­ments, when he’s deal­ing with thorny but morally im­por­tant is­sues. I don’t know that I al­ways agree with what he de­fines as a teach­able mo­ment, but I cer­tainly ap­pre­ci­ate the sen­ti­ment that there are times when it is im­por­tant to learn a lesson, and to let the mo­ment teach that lesson to you. Your re­ac­tion to that mo­ment pro­vides some­thing you can teach your­self, and then oth­ers. It’s a good mech­a­nism for thought­ful liv­ing.

PLI

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

When I was very small, the worst word I knew was “hate.” I could get smacked for us­ing it too freely or in­ap­pro­pri­ately. Later, I was taught the typ­i­cal tru­ism “if you can’t say any­thing nice, don’t say any­thing.” Once I’d processed that by be­ing re­quired to sit in a chair and think about man­ners a few times, I then be­came con­fused about the dif­fer­ence be­tween a com­ment and a com­pli­ment. I un­der­stood per­fectly well what a com­pli­ment was, but a com­ment was a co­nun­drum. Apparently a com­ment didn’t have to be com­pli­men­tary. So to my tiny bi­nary mind, this cer­tainly meant that com­ments were not some­thing that was good.

It’s tod­dler logic, like the time I asked Mom to name every­thing that be­gan with the let­ter m. Hey, Mom be­gins with m doesn’t it? She must know every­thing else that be­gins with m then.