Quote: “Don’t assume that because I don’t agree with you on something that it must be because I’m doing that politically.” Barack Obama, quoted in Reuters.
Figure of Speech: cacosyntheton (cak-o-SIN-the-ton), the bad speech. From the Greek, meaning “badly composed.”
When the silver-tongued Obama speaks badly, it’s news. He shows real discomfort in rebutting liberal accusations that he has flip-flopped on:
- Iraq (he is slightly backing off his original pledge to withdraw troops),
- Gun control (he tepidly praised the Supreme court’s recent decision uphold the Second Amendment while ignoring the “well ordered militia” part), and
- The right to privacy (he supports expanding the feds’ wiretapping authority).
Dems have a reputation for their spinelessness, whether deserved or not, and a flip-flopping creature qualifies as an invertebrate. (You may think that McCain has been flip-flopping like a large-mouth bass on a slippery dock. But he’s a war hero and a Republican, which by definition means he is not spineless but flexible.)
So Obama must show good posture by refuting the flip-flopping charges every time he flip-flops. But here’s a rhetorical lesson: Watch when a normally articulate politician speaks with awkward syntax. It usually means he finds himself on shaky logical ground. Today’s quote uses a double negative, an isolated pronoun, and two pathetically dependent clauses to mean: I’m not being political. You just don’t like what I say.
Then again, Figaro used to be anti-flip-flopping, but now he’s for it. If only Bush had flip-flopped on Iraq a week before the invasion.
Snappy Answer: “You’re just saying that to be political.”