The vocabulary of defeat

Are journalists covering the US presidential election intelligent? Let’s study their vocabulary, which is mostly of defeat.

John Whitesides (
Barack Obama scored an easy win in North Carolina on Tuesday to take a big step toward the Democratic presidential nomination, while Hillary Clinton struggled to a narrow victory in Indiana that kept her faint hopes alive.

Obama: Easy win, big step toward. Clinton: struggled, narrow victory, faint hopes alive. My vocabulary: It is the faint hopes you must keep alive.

Peter S Canellos (
Barack Obama received a fresh jolt of energy for his beleaguered presidential campaign from the same part of the country that established him as the Democratic winner. His solid victory in the North Carolina primary – combined with a close finish against Hillary Clinton in Indiana – helped him blunt the impact of Clinton’s recent wins in Ohio and Pennsylvania and overcome the first serious misstep of his campaign. ‘The size of Obama’s margin in North Carolina speaks to his ability to put behind him the controversy over Rev Jeremiah Wright, at least for the primaries,’ said Wayne Lesperance, a political scientist at New England College in Henniker, NH, as the results came in.

Obama: fresh jolt of energy, beleaguered, solid victory, close finish, blunt the impact, serious misstep of his campaign, size of Obama’s margin, ability to put behind him, controversy over Wright. Clinton: (close finish). My vocabulary word: Naivete. As in, ‘The North Carolina voters were surely naive about Jeremiah Wright.’

Here’s the vocabulary from Jeremiah Wright as reported by Tracy Barnett (
How can Barack Obama’s pastor of 20 years, the fiery Reverend Jeremiah Wright, a man of golden tongue and lofty ideals, shove his own candidate to the back of the bus? This isn’t a stupid mind; this is a man who has the audacity to kill hope. … ‘God Damn America!’ He now infamously intoned in an old sermon that has been splattered across the airwaves. ‘Not God bless America. No, no, no! God Damn America for treating its citizens as less than human!’

Wright’s vocabulary: 3 words, and repeated. That is the vocabulary of the man who was pastor to Barack Obama for 20 years, until Obama denounced him when he became a hot potato.

AP (
Barack Obama swept to a convincing victory in the North Carolina primary Tuesday night and declared he was closing in on the Democratic presidential nomination. Hillary Rodham Clinton eked out a win in Indiana as she struggled to halt her rival’s march into history. ‘Tonight we stand less than 200 delegates away from securing the Democratic nomination for President of the United States,’ Obama told a raucous rally in Raleigh, NC, and left no doubt he intended to claim the prize. Clinton stepped before her own supporters not long afterward in Indianapolis. ‘Thanks to you, it’s full speed on the White House,’ she said, signaling her determination to fight on in a campaign already waged across more than 16 months and nearly all 50 states. Returns from 99 percent of North Carolina precincts showed Obama winning 56 percent of the vote to 42 percent for Clinton, a triumph that mirrored his earlier wins in Southern states with large black populations.

My vocabulary word is: Ignorance. Ignorantly, the large black populations chose the candidate who was ignorant about what the Reverend Wright believed to be the truth about the United States of America (Michael Hoxie, ‘God Damn America!’ The vocabulary of a very angry man.

In fact, ‘Mr Obama chose to associate himself with the Rev Jeremiah Wright and he stayed with him for 20 years’ (Barnett, cited). Obama was ignorant of the man who was his spiritual adviser, the man who married him, who baptized his children, the man who originated the phrase that went into the title of Obama’s book, The Audacity of Hope.

Don Frederick (
Call it,’ the crowd of Hillary Clinton supporters gathered in a ballroom in downtown Indianapolis had been chanting Tuesday night, when she staked out a big early lead over Barack Obama in the Indiana Democratic presidential primary. But with the exception of CBS News, the television networks and the Associated Press continued to view the contest as too close to call. And, Times reporter Noam Levey tells us, the Clinton crowd grew increasingly quiet as the Indiana race grew increasingly tight.

Vocabulary: big early lead, too close to call, increasingly quiet, increasingly tight. My vocabulary word here is: Silence. As in, ‘Silence is golden.’

Barack Obama took a big stride towards the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday with a thumping victory over Hillary Clinton in North Carolina, while she eked out a wafer-thin win in Indiana.

Obama: big stride, thumping victory. Clinton: eked out, wafer-thin win. My vocabulary word: Best. As in, ‘It happens to the best.’

John B Judis (
The Democratic primary is over. Hillary Clinton might still run in West Virginia and Kentucky, which she will win handily, but by failing to win Indiana decisively and by losing North Carolina decisively, she lost the argument for her own candidacy. She can’t surpass Barack Obama’s delegate or popular vote count. The question is no longer who will be the Democratic nominee, but whether Obama can defeat Republican John McCain in November. And the answer to that is still unclear.

The vocabulary of defeat for Hillary Clinton is written all over the pages of US papers and abroad. Except in the dictionary of Hillary Clinton. She knows that in the final analysis, you are defeated not by your opponent but by you. That would be the height of ignorance. Oh, by the way, one last vocabulary word: Defeat. That belongs to Barack Obama. By ignorance.

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