Sunday, September 6, 2009

The S word

(Note: Sometimes I make things up. I assume people can read sarcasm and understand that I’m being ridiculous. Sadly, this isn’t one of those times. Yes, Daley’s quote is real. Yes, two members of the Obama administration used “silly” in the last three days.)

Apparently the Obama administration has a style book.

Under S, the word “stupidly” has been banned.

But the word “silly” is the adjective of choice when you want to deflect criticism by poking fun at your critics.

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs used the phrase “silly season” to give the official response about those who think Obama doesn’t need 18 minutes to tell elementary students to stay in school.

And Arne Duncan, Obama’s Secretary of Education, says it is just “silly” for people to worry about this nation-wide broadcast to students.

(Perhaps the most reasoned comment on the topic came from a school teacher in Utah who said the president should speak to the students some evening (say Labor Day) so the parents can choose the viewing and make the explanations. Besides, classroom time is precious and doing it at night would not disrupt the day.)

Well, “silly” is a great word, but hardly original. Its origins as a means of eloquent political speech hark back to Mayor Richard M. Daley.

(Of course, one will note that Duncan, Obama, Chief of Staff Emanuel, Obama’s brain Jarrett, and many others are also from the Chicago Democratic Machine. And as such they are protégés of Mayor Daley.)

In May of 2006 charges were leveled against Daley that he kept the tollbooths at the Chicago Skyway well staffed so he could breeze over to his Michigan cottage on week-ends. His response to reporters was eloquent:
“Everybody’s caught in traffic every day. I don’t know where they got that. Don’t worry. I’m caught in traffic as much as anyone else. It’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard in my life. It really is silly. It’s silly, silly, silly. It is just silly. Silliness. It is silly. Completely silly…You’ve been on [the Skyway]. Come on. It’s silly…You know me. That is the silliest thing I’ve ever heard.”

Count ‘em. That’s 11 sillies in one short answer.

The term was so effective that he used it again in September of 2006. It still comes out now and then.

The only question now is whether or not the White House seriously thinks Daley is a good communicator. If so, YouTube will light up with comments from the Obama administration.

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