In his “On Language” column for The New York Times a few months back, William Safire addressed presidential hopeful Barack Obama’s adept skills at finessing language. It was a thoughtful and insighftul piece (whose link I’ll get later on) about how one word’s connotation and furthermore its placement in a sentence can alter the discourse of meaning. This is not exactly rocket science I realize. In the piece, however, Safire drew comparisons with other presidential candidates and showed the difference in how Obama described certain global issues versus his opponents. In short, the thesis of Safire’s piece was that Obama is a master manipulator of the English language. (as are most of the more successful politicians)
It’s not news that Obama draws a lot of
Hollywoodlefty lobbyists Jewish support. So how does a man whose stepfather was Jewish and who spent part of his childhood in Indonesia finesse his Muslim affinities with Jewish supporters?
It’s all about the language:
Obama said he has probably gotten more support from Jewish donors, although he actively seeks support from Muslim Americans as well. But he said those Jews who have known him the longest would testify “that I haven’t just talked the talk, I’ve walked the walk when it comes to Israel’s security.”
Obama said while he is committed to protecting Israel’s security, he would also reach out to Arab leaders who are committed to recognizing Israel and renouncing violence. He did not repeat the position he took last month while campaigning in Iowa – that he supports relaxing restrictions on aid to the Palestinian people because “nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people.”
Obama went on to say of his quasi-native land, “If I go to Jakarta and address the largest Muslim country on earth, I can say, `Apa kabar,’ – you know, `How are you doing?’ – and they can recognize that I understand their common humanity,” Obama said. “That is a strength, and it allows me to say things to them that other presidents might not be able to say. And that’s part of what’s promising, I think, about this presidency.”
Hmmm….Sounds to me like Obama’s being a tad too transparent with his towing of Jewish-Muslim alliances, not to mention his platitudes. Give it a rest!