Campaigner Obama: “As president I will recognize the Armenian Genocide.” President Obama: “Ixnay on the EnocideJay”
President Obama on Monday declined to repeat his claim that the deaths of up to 1.5 million Armenians during World War I was a “genocide,” stepping back from his campaign pledge to Armenian Americans that the “widely documented fact” would be fully commemorated during his presidency.
During a joint news conference alongside Turkish President Abdullah Gul, Obama said he did not want to “focus on my views” or in any way interfere with delicate negotiations between Turks and Armenians on what the president called “a whole host of issues.”
Obama sidestepped the issue — a key tension point between Turks and Armenians and a rallying cry among Armenian-Americans — saying he was trying to be as “encouraging as possible.”
“I want to be as encouraging as possible around those negotiations, which are moving forward and could bear fruit very quickly, very soon,” Obama said. “What I want to do is not focus on my views right now but focus on the views of the Turkish and Armenian people. What I told the (Turkish) president is I want to be as constructive as possible in moving these issues forward quickly. My sense is that they are moving quickly. I don’t want to, as the president of the United States, want to preempt any possible arrangements, announcements that might be made in the near future.”
When asked if his views had changed or he was tempering them in light of the fragile Turkish-Armenian talks, Obama said he is not interested in “tilting these negotiations one way or another while they are having useful discussions.”
How could a famous stickler for grammar have bungled that 35-word passage, among the best-known words in the Constitution? Conspiracy theorists and connoisseurs of Freudian slips have surmised that it was unconscious retaliation for Senator Obama’s vote against the chief justice’s confirmation in 2005. But a simpler explanation is that the wayward adverb in the passage is blowback from Chief Justice Roberts’s habit of grammatical niggling.
Language pedants hew to an oral tradition of shibboleths that have no basis in logic or style, that have been defied by great writers for centuries, and that have been disavowed by every thoughtful usage manual. Nonetheless, they refuse to go away, perpetuated by the Gotcha! Gang and meekly obeyed by insecure writers.
Among these fetishes is the prohibition against “split verbs,” in which an adverb comes between an infinitive marker like “to,” or an auxiliary like “will,” and the main verb of the sentence. According to this superstition, Captain Kirk made a grammatical error when he declared that the five-year mission of the starship Enterprise was “to boldly go where no man has gone before”; it should have been “to go boldly.” Likewise, Dolly Parton should not have declared that “I will always love you” but “I always will love you” or “I will love you always.”
Any speaker who has not been brainwashed by the split-verb myth can sense that these corrections go against the rhythm and logic of English phrasing. The myth originated centuries ago in a thick-witted analogy to Latin, in which it is impossible to split an infinitive because it consists of a single word, like dicere, “to say.” But in English, infinitives like “to go” and future-tense forms like “will go” are two words, not one, and there is not the slightest reason to interdict adverbs from the position between them.
All in all, things are getting off to a bumpy start for the new administration…
Welcome to the post-racial age! *que audience laughter*
This ridiculous poem was made at the inauguration that was made triple-diculous considering its basis is that he hopes for a day when whites will do whats right (good thing that’s not racist). I guess electing the first black president wasn’t enough. C’MON WHITE PEOPLE!
Google News Search for “Rick Warren” and “controversial” and you’ll get hundreds of hits. Warren’s controversy was that he agreed with Obama on same sex marriage, which upset gay activists because they assume Obama is and has been lying about his non-support for same sex marriage, so palling around with this pastor who “agrees” with him is an outrage. Bill Ayers, notsomuch. And the racist poem guy? Ya. not a big deal either.
The recitation of the presidential oath came in fits and starts.
The Constitution prescribes the text: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and will to best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
But Chief Justice John Roberts, using no notes, flubbed his lines, and Obama knew it.
First, Obama jumped in before the “do solemnly swear” phrase, which seemed to throw the chief justice off his stride. Roberts rendered the next phrase as “that I will execute the office of President to the United States faithfully.”
“That I will execute,” Obama repeated, then paused like a school teacher prompting his student with a slight nod. Roberts took another shot at it: “The off … faithfully the pres … the office of President of the United States.”
The oath then got more or less back on track after that. Close enough for government work.
NBC’s Abby Livingston adds the transcript:
ROBERTS: I, Barack Hussein Obama…
OBAMA: I, Barack…
ROBERTS: … do solemnly swear…
OBAMA: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear…
ROBERTS: … that I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully…
OBAMA: … that I will execute…
ROBERTS: … faithfully the office of president of the United States…
OBAMA: … the office of president of the United States faithfully…
ROBERTS: … and will to the best of my ability…
OBAMA: … and will to the best of my ability…
ROBERTS: … preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
OBAMA: … preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
ROBERTS: So help you God?
OBAMA: So help me God.
ROBERTS: Congratulations, Mr. President.
This left Fox News Christ Wallace to humorously that he wasn’t sure who is actually President now…
The point is actually valid, as the oath is a Constitutional requirement. Since it was botched, he technically was not president and thus re-took the oath of office, just to be on the safe side. Yes, we’re serious.
Zogby confirms poll backing the video up, denies “push polling”:
The poll surveyed over 500 self-professed Obama voters and has an MOE of 4.4%, with 55% having a college degree and over 90% having a high-school diploma. It asked 12 multiple-choice questions; only 2.4% got at least 11 correct. Only .5% got all them correct.
* 57.4 could NOT correctly say which party controls congress (50/50 shot just by guessing)
* 81.8 could NOT correctly say Joe Biden quit a previous campaign because of plagiarism (25% chance by guessing)
* 82.6 could NOT correctly say that Obama won his first election by getting opponents kicked off the ballot (25% chance by guessing)
* 88.4% could NOT correctly say that Obama said his policies would likely bankrupt the coal industry and make energy rates skyrocket (25% chance by guessing)
* 56.1 % could NOT correctly say Obama started his political career at the home of two former members of the Weather Underground (25% chance by guessing).And yet…..
* Only 13.7% failed to identify Palin as the person their party spent $150,000 in clothes on
* Only 6.2% failed to identify Palin as the one with a pregnant teenage daughter
* And 86.9 % thought that Palin said that she could see Russia from her “house,” even though that was Tina Fey who said that!!
The Tina Fey question appears to be the only one that could have been unfair, as Palin is the only candidate from Alaska and she did give an answer not dissimilar to the way Tina Fey mocked it. The rest of the questions however, show an extreme failure on behalf of the press to report and educate voters.
Obama wrote of his first meeting with the president about four years ago:
The inside of the White House doesn’t have the luminous quality that you might expect from television or film; it seems well kept but worn, a big old house that one imagines might be a bit drafty on cold winter nights.
On a chilly January afternoon in 2005, the day before my swearing-in as a senator, I was invited there with other new members of Congress. At 1600 hours on the dot, President Bush was announced and walked to the podium, looking vigorous and fit, with that jaunty, determined walk that suggests he’s on a schedule and wants to keep detours to a minimum. For 10 or so minutes he spoke to the room, making a few jokes, calling for the country to come together, before inviting us for refreshments and a picture with him and the First Lady.
I happened to be starving, so while most of the other legislators started lining up for their photographs, I headed for the buffet. As I munched on hors d’oeuvres, I recalled an earlier encounter with the president, a small White House breakfast with me and the other incoming senators.
I had found him to be a likable man, shrewd and disciplined but with the same straightforward manner that had helped him win two elections; you could easily imagine him owning the local car dealership, coaching Little League baseball and grilling in his backyard – the kind of guy who would make for good company so long as the conversation revolved around sport and the kids.
There had been a moment during the breakfast meeting, though, after the backslapping and the small talk and when all of us were seated, with Vice-President Cheney eating his eggs benedict impassively and Karl Rove at the far end of the table discreetly checking his BlackBerry, that I had witnessed a different side of the man.
The president had begun to discuss his second-term agenda, mostly a reiteration of his campaign talking points – the importance of staying the course in Iraq and renewing the Patriot Act, the need to reform social security and overhaul the tax system, his determination to get an up-or-down vote on his judicial appointees – when suddenly it felt as if somebody in a back room had flipped a switch.
The president’s eyes became fixed; his voice took on the agitated, rapid tone of someone neither accustomed to nor welcoming interruption; his easy affability was replaced by an almost messianic certainty. As I watched my mostly Republican Senate colleagues hang on his every word, I was reminded of the dangerous isolation that power can bring, and I appreciated the wisdom of America’s founding fathers in designing a system to keep power in check.
“Senator?” I looked up, shaken out of this memory, and saw one of the older black men who made up most of the White House waiting staff standing next to me.
“Want me to take that plate for you?” I nodded, trying to swallow a mouthful of chicken something-or-other, and noticed that the line to greet the president had evaporated. A young marine at the door politely indicated that the photograph session was over and that the president needed to get to his next appointment. But before I could turn around to go, the president himself appeared.
“Obama!” he said, shaking my hand. “Come here and meet Laura. Laura, you remember Obama. We saw him on TV during election night. Beautiful family. And that wife of yours – that’s one impressive lady.”
“We both got better than we deserve, Mr. President,” I said, shaking the First Lady’s hand and hoping that I’d wiped any crumbs off my face.
The president turned to an aide nearby, who squirted a big dollop of hand sanitizer in the president’s hand.
“Want some?” the president asked. “Good stuff. Keeps you from getting colds.” Not wanting to seem unhygienic, I took a squirt.
“Come over here for a second,” he said, leading me off to one side of the room.
“You know,” he said quietly, “I hope you don’t mind me giving you a piece of advice.”
“Not at all, Mr. President.” He nodded. “You’ve got a bright future,” he said. “Very bright. But I’ve been in this town a while and, let me tell you, it can be tough. When you get a lot of attention like you’ve been getting, people start gunnin’ for ya. And it won’t necessarily just be coming from my side, you understand. From yours, too. Everybody’ll be waiting for you to slip. Know what I mean? So watch yourself.”
“Thanks for the advice, Mr. President.”
“All right. I gotta get going. You know, me and you got something in common.”
“What’s that?” “We both had to debate Alan Keyes. That guy’s a piece of work, isn’t he?”
I laughed, and as we walked to the door I told him a few stories from the campaign.
It wasn’t until he had left the room that I realized I had briefly put my arm over his shoulder as we talked – an unconscious habit of mine, but one that I suspected might have made many of my friends, not to mention the Secret Service agents in the room, more than a little uneasy.
As I’ve been a steady and occasionally fierce critic of Bush administration policies, Democratic audiences are often surprised when I tell them that I don’t consider George Bush a bad man and that I assume he and members of his administration are trying to do what they think is best for the country.
After the trappings of office are stripped away, I find the president and those who surround him to be pretty much like everybody else, possessed of the same mix of virtues and vices, insecurities and long-buried injuries, as the rest of us.
No matter how wrongheaded I might consider their policies to be – and no matter how much I might insist that they be held accountable for the results of such policies – I still find it possible, in talking to these men and women, to understand their motives, and to recognize in them values I share.
This is not an easy posture to maintain in Washington. The stakes involved in policy debates are often so high that I can see how, after a certain amount of time in the capital, it becomes tempting to assume that those who disagree with you have fundamentally different values – indeed, that they are motivated by bad faith, and perhaps are bad people.