July 11, 2011

Obama wants to take on "sacred cows" and "keep our sacred trust with our seniors."

We thought it was funny, at the press conference today, that Obama, in prepared remarks, used the word "sacred" in the sarcastic way right before using "sacred" in the serious way:
And it is possible for us to construct a package that would be balanced, would share sacrifice, would involve both parties taking on their sacred cows, would involved some meaningful changes to Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid that would preserve the integrity of the programs and keep our sacred trust with our seniors...
He needs a better editor! That use of sacred cows primes the listener to disbelieve his seriousness about keeping the trust with seniors. We're prompted to think of "sacred" things as things that people are wrongly leaving untouched!

By the way, the word "sacrifice" also appears in that sentence, and "sacrifice" has the same root as "sacred."
sacrifice (n.)
mid-13c., from O.Fr. sacrifise (12c.), from L. sacrificium, from sacrificus "performing priestly functions or sacrifices," from sacra "sacred rites" (prop. neut. pl. of sacer "sacred," see sacred) + root of facere "to do, perform" (see factitious). L. sacrificium is glossed in O.E. by ansegdniss. Sense of "something given up for the sake of another" is first recorded 1590s. Baseball sense first attested 1880.

sacred
c.1300, from pp. of obsolete verb sacren "to make holy" (early 13c.), from O.Fr. sacrer (12c.), from L. sacrare "to make sacred, consecrate," from sacer (gen. sacri) "sacred, dedicated, holy, accursed," from O.L. saceres, which Tucker connects to base *saq- "bind, restrict, enclose, protect," explaining that "words for both 'oath' & 'curse' are regularly words of 'binding.' " But Buck merely groups it with Oscan sakrim, Umbrian sacra and calls it "a distinctive Italic group, without any clear outside connections." Nasalized form is sancire "make sacred, confirm, ratify, ordain." Sacred cow "object of Hindu veneration," is from 1891; figurative sense of "one who must not be criticized" is first recorded 1910, reflecting Western views of Hinduism.
Perhaps, out of respect for Hinduism, we should refrain from using the term "sacred cow." Perhaps respect for religion should lead us away from using the words "sacred" and "sacrifice" casually. But surely, if you want to demonstrate your somber, serious dedication by festooning your rhetoric with the words "sacred" and "sacrifice," you should nix the expression "sacred cow" — which is all about saying people are silly to regard something as holy.

73 comments:

chickenlittle said...

You're being sarcaustic.

Robin said...

The speech writing contingent in the White House is pretty third rate these days.

And Obama's teleprompter style only makes it sound more ridiculous.

chickenlittle said...

Sacrebleu!

Shouting Thomas said...

The world's greatest orator is remarkably careless about language, isn't he?

He's stringing together cliches.

When people do this, I assume they have no clue and nothing to say.

Obama has no clue and nothing to say.

He's an idealist. He tried his ideals and they didn't work. Now, what to do? He has no experience with pragmatism.

I think what he's trying to say is that Democratic sacred cows really are sacred and Republican sacred cows are so much BS. But, I could be wrong about that.

Phil 3:14 said...

Professor;
I'm not one to critique a blogger regarding their posting style but a la "you had me at hello", your headline alone with a link to transcript of speech itself was all I needed. (You know, the way Glenn Reynolds does it.)

Don't go all Carol Herman on us now.


;-)

Carol_Herman said...

Does obama dare to jest with hindus around the world, who take scared cows seriously?

What's with obama making light of the feelings carried for him in international settings? I thought all he wanted to do was piss off Jews?

Indeed, it seems obama will say just about anything that appears on his teleprompter.

Heck, he'd probably just read off the Bistro Bis' wine list ... if someone attached it to his speech.

WV: DOOFFE (Go have fun)

David said...

Cows and bulls go together in this world, and when you have bulls you know what else you will find.

Watch your step when Obama goes bovine.

Maguro said...

C'mon Althouse, you know how Muslims feel about Hindus.

They're idolaters. Don't even get a Muslim started on Hinduism, it's like mentioning "New Age" in front of Crack Emcee.

caplight said...

The use of the word "sacred" must inflame his supporters in the atheist community.

Squid said...

I think speeches like this just reinforce the steely nerve, the intelligence, and the groundedness we've come to expect from our solid, normal President.

Geoff Matthews said...

Is there anything more politically sacred in the US than Social Security?

Scott M said...

I wish I could find the link, but Insta posted something a week or so ago going through an exercise in balance. So much tax increase for an equal amount of spending reduction and using real numbers, not the DC-centric "baseline" budgeting methods.

I didn't have a lot of time to parse the numbers, but his findings, when projected out only five years or so, were startling.

Hagar said...

The World's Greatest Orator steps in it - again.

Bruce Hayden said...

I don't think that his "shared sacrifice" idea is going to take root or gain traction. Americans know that a lot of people are exempt from this "shared sacrifice".

The government union employees were asked to share some of the sacrifice in Wisconsin recently, as well as in much of the rest of the country. And, they flatly refused. They demanded special rights, including far more generous pensions and benefits than those of the people having to pay for the pensions and benefits of the government employees.

We all know that a lot of the stimulus money went to maintain these pensions and benefits. GE and Chrysler stake holders were butchered by the Administration to protect union pensions and benefits - with non-union employees losing most of theirs so that the union employees would not.

We also know that almost half of the country does not pay any income taxes, and under Obama, would continue to not do so. His proposed tax increases fall primarily on those who are already paying most of the taxes in this country.

So, in the end, a lot of Americans are going to see his rhetoric about "shared sacrifices" meaning that the productive and innovative sectors of this country, despite paying most of the taxes already, need to have their taxes increased even more, to support the "poor", the lazy, the really rich, and government employees.

bagoh20 said...

Based on the Althouse reasoning that lead to her Obama vote, I believe that Flava Flav could have also won in 08, and I don't see how it would have made any difference to the outcome we now have in 2011.

Ann Althouse said...

@Phil 3:14 Ironically, your comment is verbose.

Ann Althouse said...

@bagoh20 Consider whether you are reverse projecting.

Paddy O said...

I don't know if it's that bad...

The emphasis is on the contrast. Take away the sacred cows, and affirm the sacred trust. We don't want cows, we want trust. But the Republicans only have cows, so we shouldn't trust them.

That's not bad stuff.

I'll bet there's even a name for it.

Quick... to the Farnsworth!

ricpic said...

To sacrifice sacred seniors for the greater good
Death panels will chop and stack them into kindling wood.

Paddy O said...

"Consider whether you are reverse projecting."

yeeeeeeeaaaahhhh boyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!

ricpic said...

bagoh does a reverse half-gainer...no splash!

roesch-voltaire said...

I agree that a good editor would have separated the scared from the secular, but I guess would have kept "sacred cow" as a common trite expression that still has some use-- unless of curse if nothing is sacred in politics.

Bruce Hayden said...

I meant to say:

We all know that a lot of the stimulus money went to maintain these pensions and benefits. GM and Chrysler stake holders were butchered by the Administration to protect union pensions and benefits - with non-union employees losing most of theirs so that the union employees would not.

I originally said GE, not GM. But, GE is in there prominently too, by probably being the biggest crony capitalist in this country (some of the Wall Street firms are competitive there). They pay effectively no U.S. corporate taxes. But, they got TARP funds (and became a "bank" almost overnight to do this, compared to real banks that need years to overcome the regulatory hurdles) and a large chunk of the green energy funds. And their boss is one of Obama's economic advisers, as well as being touted for the next Commerce or Treasury Secretary. It didn't help that their NBC/MSNBC subsidiary operated as an arm of the DNC/Obama election/reelection campaign.

I seriously doubt that Obama's call for shared sacrifice extended to General Electric.

Paddy O said...

We see an increase in blue chips, while all the Republicans offer us is cow chips.

Robert Cook said...

"(Obama's) an idealist. He tried his ideals and they didn't work."

Hardly....unless you consider a man with no personal convictions an idealist.

Paddy O said...

Obama wants to maintain benefits, which gives the opposition hissy fits.

Lucius Septimius said...

I read it and thought he was calling my Mom a cow. He already insulted her by not showing up to a roll-call when the Illinois Senate recognized her, and now he's calling her names.

Plus, in context with sacrifice, there is this icky sort of Soylent Green aspect to all this.

Ralph L said...

He needs a better editor!
Don't tell us you just realized this. I thought Bill Clinton's speeches were so banal, the only thing interesting about him was parsing his outs. Obama doesn't even offer that diversion, just mendacity, snideness and narcissism.

Shouting Thomas said...

Hardly....unless you consider a man with no personal convictions an idealist.

The fact that you disagree with him, Kookie, doesn't mean he isn't an idealist.

Obama is living out the ideals of his mom, crazy as they may be. He's also living out the ideals of this dad... which are just about stark raving mad.

You're ideals have been proven to be genocidal, economically suicidal and universally hated, but that hasn't caused you to dump them.

I can still see that you are an idealist. A loon, for sure. But, still, an idealist.

Lucius Septimius said...

Hardly....unless you consider a man with no personal convictions an idealist.

Dalrymple would suggest that the complete lack of personal convictions is the ideal of the current elites.

Phil 3:14 said...

@Phil 3:14 Ironically, your comment is verbose.

Yeah I was thinking that as I wrote it.

The Crack Emcee said...

I just discovered Julia Roberts is a Hindu - can I call her a sacred cow? What if I don't believe her? Especially because I don't believe her?

And how much should we be changing our language for the sake of religion? What about the Voodoo caretaker in England who trafficked young girls and made them eat chicken hearts? Are we respecting that, too? Should we change our language for that?

Explain how this is going to work, Professor,...

Phil 3:14 said...

I could quote Twain and state

“Sacred cows make the best hamburger”

but then that would lead me to quote Heston:

"Soylent green is PEOPLE!!"

Shouting Thomas said...

I'm having sacred cow and peas for dinner.

traditionalguy said...

A sacred space is an exclusionary concept. Those as yet Impure cannot go inside.

A sacrifice is a gift given to an appointed priest so that the priest can bring the gift to the god.

A purifying sacrifice requires a priest.

Obama wants to imitate our priest who takes gifts to our gods. That is the oldest wealth creator system known to man.

Drudge ran a story about a private Hindu gods's temple at Kerala, India that had acollection of 22 billion dollars of gold and jewels under its alter.

Now that is way more than what Dems can accumulate from sacrifices to the High Speed Train gods.

Obama is just jealous.

Jay said...

The man is an idiot.

We can all move on now...

bagoh20 said...

"@bagoh20 Consider whether you are reverse projecting."

I'm really not smart enough to even follow that, but my point is: wasn't McCain also worse than Flava Flav. And if one of them was gonna win anyway?

Lucius Septimius said...

Obama is just jealous.
The man is an idiot.

So Obama knows deep down that cows have a better sense of public policy than he does and is envious. That makes way too much sense, unfortunately.

Ralph L said...

and became a "bank" almost overnight to do this
I read somewhere in the 90's or early 00's that the majority of their earnings were coming from GE Finance, ie moneylending. The only appliances that made money from sales (not parts) were the high-end refrigerators.

TreeJoe said...

The guy is giving an economic speech once a day right now to the public (not press conference, since he's not taking questions). Of course they can't prepare a new speech everyday - such preparation would require you to have something new to say, perhaps void of empty platitudes.

That takes ideas and creativity and the ability to go 5 minutes without demonizing your opponents.

We haven't seen such traits in an Obama speech since....

Smilin' Jack said...

Perhaps, out of respect for Hinduism, we should refrain from using the term "sacred cow."

Holy cow, I think you're right! We should show more respect to Hindus--next time I meet one maybe I'll ask him to bless my hamburger or something.

Lucius Septimius said...

I'll ask him to bless my hamburger or something.

"I hope it wasn't anyone you knew ..."

ddh said...

Part of my family is French Canadian, so it sounded as if the President was being profane.

Lucius said...

He's a regular Cicero. Probably the most eloquent and literate mind to occupy the office since Jefferson.

--What's with all the etymologies these days? I hope this is OED or something and not a wikiwhat thing . . . .

David said...

Ever since the "receding oceans" crack in his speech after securing the nomination, it's been clear that he is not a great orator.

rhhardin said...

I remember sacred as from something meaning separated, in particular separated from the ordinary.

Probably that was in Kenneth Burke somewhere.

rhhardin said...

cont (separated)

this seems to verify it.

Roman said...

Don't blame Barry, that what the teleprompter had in it. George Bush probably put it there!

edutcher said...

What ricpic said.

The only thing sacred is Little Zero's re-election and he will sacrifice all of us to get there.

chickenlittle said...

Sacrebleu!

Or, in the words of Alfred Hawthorne Hill, "Sacred blue!".

Beevalo Bill said...

The use of hackneyed metaphors is an increasingly common rhetorical device of politicians, pundits, bureaucrats, special interests, and talking heads.

It can be a particularly condescending and irksome practice.

Political communications consultants advise politicians to use these banal metaphors to communicate “on the level” of the citizenry. Apparently we are not enlightened or smart enough to comprehend simple declarative sentences.

It is also an especially intellectually lazy form of communication. “Eat our peas, sacred cows, etc.” are rhetorically vapid, but an easy sentence. It is always much more difficult to speak plainly.

Charlie Martin said...

You're being sarcaustic.

There's a new word that deserves to survive.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Maybe he misread the prompter - I'll bet it was supposed to be "scared cows"

rhhardin said...

Sacred Cow was the name of Truman's airplane.

rhhardin said...

Sacred Cows is also a Get Smart KAOS Rock and Roll group.

Marshal said...

"would share sacrifice"

I keep hearing about this mythical shared sacrifice, but it seems a little light on the sharing. Obama adds trillions in spending. This is gong to bankrupt us, so his idea of "sharing sacrifice" is adding trillions in taxes while making a few paltry cosmetic cuts.

And further the private sector has borne virtually the entire cost of this recession. So while we're losing jobs we get to pay for the public sector to expand further.

These government leeches are sucking us down to husks with their greed.

Seeing Red said...

Via Jennifer Rubin:

...That’s where Ryan is now directing his fire. His spokesman tells me, “This Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) was buried inside the President’s 2,700 page health-care law, and empowers 15 people with the authority to unilaterally slash spending as they see fit.” So coming up tomorrow, he reminds us, “Health and Human Services Secretary HHS Secretary Sebelius will explain and defend IPAB at the House Budget Committee hearing at 10 a.m. in Cannon 210.” That should be enlightening....

traditionalguy said...

Eat mor chikin, say the sacred cows... and everyone knows that co2 comes more from cowfarts than from chicken shit.

Obviously another stealth attack on Texas.

DADvocate said...

As a near senior citizen (or newly senior citizen according to many restaurants), I feel more like a sacrificial cow under Obama's plans. I'm wondering at what point I'll be too old, in too poor of health and of too little benefit to society to keep alive, so they'll just give me the little pills to kill my pain while I die instead of any curative treatment.

Pogo said...

It's a wonderful thing that the Obama administration hires speech writers from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Special Ed division.

Everyone gets a hug!!

Joe said...

"we must take on all of the sacred cows, by which I mean, none of the sacred cows."

"We must sacrifice, if you mean by sacrifice that we must do only that which is comfortable."

David R. Graham said...

2nd Class Cadets at West Point ("Juniors" at colleges) are called "Cows." The reason for that is beyond the ken of common knowledge.

"And how much should we be changing our language for the sake of religion?"

Your language is your religion. How you use it is your business. First Amendment.

What in the name of all that's gracious is a "Hindu," or a "
Christian," "Moslem," "Buddhist," "Baha'i," etc. If any such thing can be defined, that has to include a legal definition, which means legal entities have to (a) define what religion is, in legal terms of art, and (b) define, in law, the distinctions between religions.

Is there is a lawyer on earth who wants to do either of those tasks? No. So using the words "Moslem," "Hindu," "sacred," "religion," etc. (without defining them in legal terms of art) is chicanery.

The Crack Emcee said...

Hey - check this shit out:

You won't believe it,...

reader_iam said...

You're being sarcaustic.

There's a new word that deserves to survive.


Amen, to both (and the commenters who posted them).

reader_iam said...

It's best to keep one's sacred cows separate from one's oxen being gored.

FWIW.

gerry said...

...which is all about saying people are silly to regard something as holy.

This is a primary tenet of leftist ideology. There is no truth unless it is materialistic and measurable. Nothing is holy because nothing can be divine or related to divinity since there is no god.

Obama can't hide his feelings, his ideology. They are his upbringing, his formation. Obama believes nothing is sacred because he is a dialectical materialist. Is it any wonder he cannot keep his cows and seniors straight?

Don M said...

When a politician talks about sacrifice, always know it is you he wants to sacrifice on the alter of his G-ds, never him for you.

Don M said...

We may divide the world to the sacred and the profane.

The notion of sacrifice takes a profane animal, such as a cow, and sacrifices it to the holy g-ds who are sacred. We don't do that anymore, but the idea of sacrifice is still the moving an item from the category of profane to the category of sacred.

There are things that are truly sacred: home, family, and virtue. We should never sacrifice them.

The things that are profane should be sacrificed. Government programs to bribe voters, and skim some for the politicians, at the expense of all citizens should be sacrificed.

Obama wants anti-sacrifice, to kill home, family and virtue for the benefit of government programs of bribery.

madAsHell said...

Reverse projection. I was trying to imagine reverse projection, and then it dawned on me....pissing in the wind.

The answer is pissing in the wind!!

DANEgerus said...

Maybe Obama should start working off of a teleprompter to avoid these little gaffes. Oh... wait...

A_Nonny_Mouse said...

He wants to "keep our sacred trust with our seniors", sure he does, indeed yes.

But...

Gee, if the Repubs in Senate don't get on the stick and raise the debt ceiling a couple trillion more dollars, His Won-ness can't guarantee that Social Security checks will go out...

"Nice little Social Security check youse gots there -- be a shame if somethin' was to happen to it..."

Thug.

Beldar said...

It's shameful that any editor of a major law review — much less the editor-in-chief (a/k/a "president") of the Harvard Law Review — should be so incompetent at Copy-Editing 101.

Or let me put it another way: That kind of glitch might be enough to effectively eliminate the chances of someone trying to "write onto" a law review in an open blind-graded competition. As in: If you're no more polished than this, we don't even want you as a mere member (much less a potential editor).

StewartIII said...

Hot Air: Obamateurism of the Day
http://hotair.com/archives/2011/07/15/obamateurism-of-the-day-548/

Borf said...

Obama has always strung together cliches; that is, when he's not using shallow bromides. Of course, I guess it is excusable, since they are linked with non sequiturs.