Tag Archives: barack obama

18% of Americans think Barack Obama is Jewish

Per page 13 of this AP poll, the proportion of people who believe Barack Obama is a Muslim went from 17% down to 10% between January 2010 and September 2012.

However, 18% now think he is Jewish.

I would dearly love to hear an explanation of this result because I can’t think of one.

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The politics of pronunciation

Debate trivialities:  some people were concerned that Obama pronouncing the name of the second-biggest nuclear power on the subcontinent as “Pah-ki-stahn,” rather than “Pack-i-stan,” sent the wrong message.  Apparently this issue is not a new one for the President.

My first reaction is to say “Why not pronounce it Pah-ki-stahn if that’s how the Pah-ki-stanis pronounce it?”  And in some sense the world is moving in that direction.  It used to be customary to say “Eye-rack” and “Eye-ran” — my sense is that standard newcaster usage has shifted from Eye-rainians to Ee-rahnians.  (What does Romney say?  What do self-consciously Middle-American politicians say?)

But it’s clear that no pure principle of that kind is in effect.  We would roll our eyes at a politician who called Israel “Yisroel” or Germany “Deutschland.”

Those pronunciations don’t match the English spelling, though.  So maybe the principle is “Among those pronunciations which are licensed by the written name of the place in English, use the one that best approximates the name of the place as natives would say it.”  But on this account, Israel would come out something like “Ees-rah-el”, whereas in real life there’s a staunch bipartisan consensus around the utterly un-Hebrew “Izz-ree-yul.”  And any candidate who followed this theory and said “Frahnce” would be wiped off the electoral map.

Is the politically savvy protocol simply “pronounce things the way Americans are used to pronouncing them?”  But that doesn’t explain the shift on Iran and Iraq.  And it doesn’t explain why certain sensitive types bristle at hearing “Pah-ki-stahn” but would give a pass to “Chee-lay.”  And surely not even the crankiest political uptightniks still insist on saying “Peking” just to get up the nose of the ChiComs.

Stop the presses:  a quick Google for “Peking site:nationalreview.com” reveals that there are, indeed, cranky political uptightniks who say “Peking” just to get up the nose of the ChiComs.  I should have known.

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Obama, glitter, Wisconsin

Monica hits the front page of the Guardian, which reports on the art-auction party she threw for Barack Obama in New York in advance of Super Tuesday. Monica tells me that artist Aaron Sinift is still selling his glitter Obamas at $240 per: $80 goes to the artist, $160 to BO. This blog doesn’t endorse candidates, but it does endorse art; and let me just say that Obama looks great in glitter. In fact, since WordPress has upped its storage limit to 3 gigs, I don’t have to just say it — I can show it!


Monica probably doesn’t want her e-mail address on this blog, so if you want one of these (I hear they make excellent Valentines) write me and I’ll write her.

I’m glad the Democratic race is still undecided; I’ve never lived in a state with a meaningful primary before. I took CJ out to lunch today (at the very welcome newcomer Pizza Brutta on Monroe) and was very much hoping BO and HRC would cram themselves into the banquette on either side and cover CJ with kisses. Didn’t happen. But we’re still 10 days away.

From the linked Guardian piece above, here’s Monica campaigning in Iowa:

We had volunteered to go door to door for Obama in Mason City, Iowa, prior to the Iowa Democratic primary caucuses. Mason City is very rural, surrounded by small pig farming communities. Weather at some points was well below zero. I knocked at one man’s house – I guess it was 7:30 in the evening – and he answered the door wearing only a pair of Y-front jockey underwear. He was probably 60-something, Republican. I asked him if he would vote for Obama and he asked me if I would marry him. I said no and he said no, so I went on my way.

But there’s a big question unanswered here. Did Mr. Y-Front Hog Wrangler want to know if Monica would marry Obama? Or was this a proposal? Two very different stories. Either one works as a “meet cute” scene for a romantic comedy of the opposites-attract type.

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