Thus, in my opinion, both Rush Limbaugh and Ann Althouse are piling on for political reasons or because they don't like Cornel West, just as Jacob Weisberg piled on to the Bushisms business.Thus! I love the way the logical jump about what I (and Rush) did happens in an instant, but the effort to absolve Cornel West is so painstaking.
Thus! In my opinion, Mark Liberman is piling on for political reasons....
It's obvious that Prof. West meant "succumbed", and from the audio evidence, it's clear that he said something that can plausibly be transcribed as "surcame". What both Limbaugh and Althouse assume is that this is the result of an eggcorn, in which the basic verb succumb is re-analyzed as a combination of the prefix sur- and the stem come, and that the preterite of this imagined verb then inherits the irregular form come, to yield surcame.No doubt? I have some doubt. All of the actual examples found by Liberman are in published books, not spontaneous speech. Professor Liberman has failed to consider an obvious hypothesis — that West's books are edited.
This is a plausible thing to happen, in the abstract. But a quick Google search shows us that Prof. West has used the verb succumb and its preterite succumbed many dozens of times in his books; and no doubt many more times in his speeches and interviews.