May 16, 2007

"Who's most prepared to lead in this challenge, this transient, central challenge that we face called radical Islamic extremism?"

"Transient, central challenge"? Is that what McCain is saying? That's in the NYT transcript of last night's debate. It's at 5:07 in this video clip. What did he mean to say? Transcendental?

(And is McCain garbling his speech in a way that -- especially in view of his age -- should worry us?)


Daryl said...

Transient - passing
Central - of major (or even primary) importance

He's saying we have to deal with this threat now because it's very important. Once we defeat the radical Muslims, and moderate Islam triumphs over Islamism, we won't have this problem any more (at least, terrorism by crazy Muslims won't occur that much more frequently than terrorism by kooky Christians).

He doesn't want a Thousand-Year Struggle between the West and Islam (which we are more likely to get if we pull out of Iraq). He wants to win, so we can move on to new challenges and opportunities.

Roost on the Moon said...

Intransigent, perhaps?

Chris said...

I'll vote for "transcendent."

hdhouse said...

who the heck knows what he means. he probably doesn't know. someone get george to clear this up ok?

and daryl..."once we defeat the radical Muslims"....don't wait up.

Revenant said...

Neither transient nor transcendental sound right, although the former is accurate. Eventually Islamic radicalism will be eliminated, one way or another.

Roost's idea makes the most sense -- intransigent.

XWL said...

I'm fairly certain in other interviews he said transcendent, though I think the term existential would fit what he's trying to convey better.

But what came out of his mouth was a mash-up of the two, I think he said actually said "transcenstential".

I think he's suggesting that the threat is one that transcends party differences, ideologies, and national borders and that of all the issues before any candidate it's the one that transcends all others.

But I think the same idea is conveyed by the likes of Mark Steyn and Victor Davis Hanson who argue that these Islamist radical extremists represent an existential threat to western liberalism if we refuse to confront the pernicious influence that ideology holds over far too many people.

Maybe he's trying to coin a word the way Harding did, his conceptualization of the threat is so sophisticate that he can't convey it with any of the off the shelf words and had to combine the two closests fits into one perfect representation of the threat, "transcenstential" (it's at about 5:11 in the YouTube clip linked in this post if you want to check for yourself).

At least he didn't say we must refuse to prostate ourselves before the radical Islamic extremists as Tony Soprano might.

Ann Althouse said...

There's no way he could have meant to say "transient." Daryl's comment reminds me of a game I invented to play with my kids called: "What if you had to argue?" What if you had to argue that McCain meant to say "transient"? Daryl could win that game.

Here's why I don't think it's "intransigent": it assumes he meant to say "central." To me -- and, please, listen to the audio on the clip -- he was trying to get out a single word, and he just did not say it. He did some similar word swallowing on "Mett the Press" last Sunday.

The Drill SGT said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roost on the Moon said...

Daryl's comment reminds me of a game I invented to play with my kids called: "What if you had to argue?"

! ! !
That's so great! I can't stop smiling.

The Drill SGT said...

The Drill SGT said...
from the sounds of it, he meant Transcendental. I think you can clearly hear the ...tal sound

Transcendent: Surpassing others; preeminent or supreme.

Eli Blake said...

Dang, I wish Republicans had been this quick to bail on George W. Bush every time he butchered a word.

My favorite one (because it in essence explains all the others:)

"I stand by all the misstatements that I've made." ...George W. Bush to Sam Donaldson,

Simon said...

There's a lot of things about McCain that should worry us, but the odd rhetorical misfire or flub at a debate isn't really something that I'm going to worry about. I don't think it'll get much play, either, insofar as it doesn't seem to confirm any conventional wisdom about McCain.

PatHMV said...

Eli, do you mean George H. W. Bush? I don't recall Sam Donaldson interviewing the elder son of the just-recently-past president about his own misstatements in 1993.

Cedarford said...

McCain has always come across as untrustworthy, a bit of a loose cannon, and I'm afraid showing signs of old age, being in the same rut of habit.

It was kind of overshadowed by the media fixating on "the killer soundbite" which they assigned to Rudy for getting all huffy about Ron Paul's mostly accurate comment on some of our present difficulties with Islam - but McCain's torture comments were Manchurian Candidate quality.

1. He personally knows that torture forced him to give up vital info and make propaganda for the enemy - now he pretends "torture never works"

2. He knows Geneva is supposed to be reciprocal, he has a position now it should be unilateral.

3. He erroneously claims most military people are opposed to GITMO, coercive interrogations to save troop's lives. Not true. He selctively quotes a few "generals and the Magic Negro" and ignores US forces have been doing coercive interrogations to save American lives from the Revolutionary War onwards.

4. He has redefined torture in his own mind to be anything past offering rewards to any unlawful enemy combatant outside Geneva protections. If the terrorist wants to take the 5th, John McCain believes we are bound to honor his wishes or "enemies might do things to our guys the ACLU would say crossed the line." Our guys, unlike Islamoid terrorists are lawful Geneva combatants that observe the laws of war. They other side does not give them any mercy?

5. And McCain's fear of a later war where the Chinese or such might use shouts and lack of sleep even waterboarding? If our guys were guaranteed GITMO conditions they would consider it POW paradise compared to what they can expect.
I think McCain cooked his goose in this debate.

Long after Rudy's soundbite of the night, huffy comeback "they hate us for our freedoms" vintage 6 years ago.....voters will remember that McCain said he would not interrogate a terrorist even to prevent mass American casualties in an ongoing attack because (1)Its wrong to cause a terrorist in a squad murdering tens of thousands of Americans in an attack ANY discomfort.(2)It never works despite what I told or did for the Vietnamese(3)Waterboarding or sleep deprivation are the same as NVA beating me and dislocating my arms(4) Other nations would disapprove of us if we interrogated an Islamoid to save countless US lives.

Sorry. That will stick to McCain. Want this guy who has made a career out of being a POW victim to be Commander in Chief? I don't, I'd pick Hillary over him as more trustworthy to defend our nation.

Romney also badly damaged him with the "Kennedy-McCain Illegal Alien Amnesty Plan which follows the McCain-Feingold attack on Republican 1st Amendment rights".

McCain got the usual "Romney is a flip-flopper, flip-flopper!!" taunt in, but McCain leaves the debate with questions of terrorist-coddling and "McCain-Kennedy Amnesty for illegals" clinging to him like McCain-Feingold.

Eli Blake said...

You're right, pathmy, I think it may have been. Back then George W. Bush was still paying big bucks to Jose Canseco.

Here is a George W. Bush original though:

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we," Bush said.

"They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

-- on the campaign trail, Aug. 5, 2004.

As I said when Ann posted something on a gaffe Obama made, I rarely judge politicians on gaffes. If people talk long enough, sooner or later they will make mistakes.

The exception is if the 'gaffe' is well-planned, thought out, delivered in a carefully chosen setting and reveals something about the deep character of the man (i.e. 'macaca.')

Palladian said...

Eli, wrong on both counts. That quote is supposedly Dan Quayle.

Tribeca said...

You're joking right? Criticizing McCain for his use of the English language and somehow implying that should disqualify him from being President???

You do realize who our President is now, don't you?

Revenant said...

Criticizing McCain for his use of the English language and somehow implying that should disqualify him from being President??? You do realize who our President is now, don't you?

Is that a concession that Bush is, in fact, qualified for the job? :)

amba said...

Transcendent. I'm sure.

And it's more stress than age. But on "Meet the Press" I actually heard him say . . . well, I think he started to say something about "the dictates of my conscience" but changed his mind in midstream, and it came out, "I have an obligation to do what my dick -- my conscience, my knowledge, my experience tells me . . . "

Howard said...

The old man Reagan scared the hell out of me during the last two years of his presidency because he was obviously beginning to lose it. I will never ever vote for anyone who is already in his 70s before being elected because he will turn into a senile 80 year old before he leaves office. He is now just one more old white guy.

Fen said...

The old man Reagan scared the hell out of me during the last two years of his presidency because he was obviously beginning to lose it.

That had more to do with being shot by Moonbat Hinkley. I don't think he ever fully recovered from it.

Kirby Olson said...

Transient makes total sense to me. It just means that we have about ten years to deal with this.

McCain says what he means, and he means what he says.

Or did he mean intransigent?

A transient intransigence?

If he meant something else he would have offered a clarification by now.

So he meant not of long duration, but nevertheless, pressing. I think he said it to minimize the problem and its intensity so that it seems like something that we can handle.