Clinton Obama Word War

For lovers of language, the current Democratic Presidential race is fascinating. The candidates speak well-chosen words yet there’s often more meaning in what is unsaid. They hide malicious things in the subtext, or the content underneath their words.

In orchestrated chants, Obama’s crowd said “yes, we can” and in response Clinton’s crowd yelled “yes, she will.” The word change is subtle but, of course, her real meaning is that he is a “sayer” not a “doer.”

Continuing to reinforce that subtext, Clinton said this week, “Together, we will turn promises into action, words into solutions, and hope into reality.” You know, unlike that guy on the other side who’s just a puff of empty promises.

Obama has been using stronger subtext recently. Since he has been criticized for being short on specifics, he’s using the word “real” more often as in, “…that’s the kind of vision I hope to make real as President of the United States. “

To present himself as the change candidate, Obama said, “I didn’t spend my career in the halls of Washington..” Translate the subtext to mean unlike my Washington establishment opponent. As a Senator he must know those halls pretty well himself — but perception is reality!

The subtext is so obvious sometimes I can almost see a little thought bubble over the candidates heads containing the real words they want us to hear. Watch for it — it can provide needed comic relief to the current battle.

One comment

  • Anonymous
    March 13, 2008 - 9:44 pm | Permalink

    I can’t imagine the level of scrutiny each word of the campaign rhetoric receives. But, words are powerful and must be chosen carefully. You’ve given some good examples of the tweaks made to the words used recently by both candidates. Won’t it be interesting to see which tweak makes the difference?

    I can’t imagine the level of scrutiny each word of the campaign rhetoric receives. But, words are powerful and must be chosen carefully. You’ve given some good examples of the tweaks made to the words used recently by both candidates. Won’t it be interesting to see which tweak makes the difference?

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