Not Asking, Telling

I skipped the debt speeches last night (SyFy’s Monday night lineup is just too damned good to pass — Eureka, Warehouse 13, and Alphas), but I did catch the highlights and transcripts. And one of Obama’s latest verbal tics has finally set me off.


No, not his poll-tested and approved “balanced approach” — apparently that scored well with the focus groups, because he used it at least a half dozen times — but, rather, this abuse of a word:

The only reason this balanced approach isn’t on its way to becoming law right now is because a significant number of Republicans in Congress are insisting on a cuts-only approach – an approach that doesn’t ask the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to contribute anything at all.  And because nothing is asked of those at the top of the income scales, such an approach would close the deficit only with more severe cuts to programs we all care about – cuts that place a greater burden on working families.

I love language. I love words. I love how the English language can be used in so many creative and precise ways. My favorite example is how different in meaning are the terms overlook, oversee, see over, look over, and lookover. “Look” and “see” are pretty synonymous, yet each over those five terms has a distinct meaning.


Here, President Obama is abusing a single word, and it’s one that his end of the political spectrum loves to misuse. And it’s “ask.”

Go ahead and look it up. There’s a key aspect to the definition that simply doesn’t apply in Obama’s usage, and that’s the voluntary element.


If someone “asks” you something, you are free to refuse. They can use pressure or enticements to get you to comply, but as long as there is no coercion, then it is “asking.” But with Obama’s definition, there is no option to refuse. It’s a demand.He’s “asking” American citizens and corporations to give their money to the government under penalty of law should they refuse.


Now, if he wants to “ask” for more money, then let him. There are already ways that people who wish to give money directly to the government can do so. Hell, let Obama announce a new, simpler way where wealthy Americans and corporations (such as his biggest donors, who he plans on hitting up for a billion dollars for his re-election) the chance to pay more than they are currently required.


As I said, it’s something that the left does a lot. They like to impose their values and beliefs on us, but couch it in language that disguise its mandatory nature. They demand higher taxes, but say they’re only “asking” for the money. They ban incandescent light bulbs, and say that it’s for our own good that they take away our choice. They ban standard toilets and replace them with “low-flow” ones that don’t work anywhere near as well, and say it’s for our own good. They insist that we wear seat belts and motorcycle helmets, because we “owe” it to society to not take responsibility for ourselves.


This new definition of “ask,” though? That requires such a perversion of thought that I just can’t grasp.

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  • Anonymous

    Good catch on using the word ask.
    It sounds so benign, polite and reasonable. Everything that modern liberals are not!

    But as you point out, “They like to impose their values and beliefs on us, but couch it in language that disguise its mandatory nature.”

    That and they tend to avoid real discussions/debates on the merits of their proposals. Instead they always defaul to demonizing their opponents.

    Truth is if liberals ever used straight talk to explain exactly what they’d like to really do, they’d be voted out in a heartbeat.

  • I’d like to ask Obama to STFU …

  • Anonymous

    How many of us have to ask him to resign before he does?

    • PBunyan

      Roughly 65 million of us.  On November 6, 2012.   Of course “ask” will have the exact same fabricated definition as when Obama uses it.

  • PBunyan

    Well then Boehner just needs to pass a bill full of spending cuts and a section where the politely ask the wealthy to voluntarily pay more taxes if they want to.   They could even call it the “Balanced Approach Budget Bill”.

    • Anonymous

      Mr. Bunyan, I don’t like that suggestion.

      I LOVE IT.


  • Anonymous

    Obama has a propensity to use pompus or  bogus language. I  mentally cringe everytime he uses the word “unprecedented¨”, a favorite of his or his speechwriters´.

    • Anonymous

      Obama has a propensity to use pompous or bogus language to advance his arguments.

      I believe the term is “bullshitting,” Steve. Or “lying.”

      Oh, and Steve? I had to edit your comment. You had only one space between “language” and “to,” and our super new brilliant snazzy user-friendly wonderful commenting system that we all love and adore and cherish and hold so dear converted that into a link that went nowhere. So I had to “fix” your technically correct comment, add a second space, and that kept it from making it a bad link.


  • Anonymous

    I.F Stone: “All politicians lie”, but there may be an occasion where one can use the word unprecedented, but not to litter every speech so it seems.

  • Anonymous

    I hadn´t realized that others have noticed this pompous verbal tic of Obama as I have. Obama’s  use of “unprecedented” is well unprecedented  (just kidding) and   will likely continue. for his whole term in office I suppose if it is grating for his friends it must be even worse for his foes.

    It  comes close to a certain if this president has done things that no other president has ever done before — except that they have done them before.”

  • Anonymous

    The (P)resident had the temerity to tell me I should call my congress critters and “ask” them to raise my taxes. He’s really a bad comedian, bad jokes that fall flat, poor delivery and his weekly standup routine really needs work.

  • Anonymous

    Giving this bunch more money is like loaning $1000 to your brother-in-law who then spends it on hookers in Las Vegas.

  • Tanuki Man

    “Alphas” ain’t *that* good Jay Tea. But I don’t want to miss “Eureka.”