December 30, 2009

I must correct Barack Obama's grammar.

He said:
"A systemic failure has occurred and I consider that totally unacceptable. There was a mix of human and systemic failure that contributed to this potential catastrophic breach of security."
He meant "potentially catastrophic breach of security." Potential needs to be an adverb, because it modifies the adjective catastrophic. It shouldn't be an adjective, which makes it seem to modify the noun breach. It was a breach. If the bomb had gone off, it would have been catastrophic. That's where the potentiality lies.


Anyway, it's painful to see the scramble to get from Napolitano's "the system worked" to "totally unacceptable ... catastrophic breach."

And speaking of Napolitano's abysmal performance over the weekend... where's Hillary? Was she made Secretary of State for the purpose of hiding her away?


David said...

Once again proving Joe Biden wrong. Obama actually isn't all that articulate. But he is clean.

AllenS said...

Hillary is probably dodging sniper fire in some far away dangerous country. Why does she do it? She does it because she cares.

WV: winge

Mr. Bingley said...

You, Madame, obviously are inexperienced in the glow of great Orators. If He uses the construct, the language will come to Him.

Peano said...

Ann said, "where's Hillary? Was she made Secretary of State for the purpose of hiding her away?"

The One wanted her inside the tent pissing out, not the other way around.

David said...

By the way if I wanted to be stared at by Michelle Malkin every time I log in, I would go to her blog. Fortunately this is not a permanent fixture.

David said...

"Was she made Secretary of State for the purpose of hiding her away?"


And she accepted.


XWL said...

"Was she made Secretary of State for the purpose of hiding her away?"


Any Obama Administration foreign affairs failure will also be her failure, dulling her ability to campaign against him in 2012.

I think a safe bet for 2010 will be that Sec. of State Hillary Clinton will not be Secretary of State as of Jan 1st, 2011.

Her only chance at 2012 will be to have a crisis blow up, be unable to prevent it, and blame interference from the White House against her better judgement at the State Department from steering clear of whatever dust up she'll use as an excuse for resigning.

I think any Democrat can see that 2016 (after a potential 8 years of Obama) will be as impossible for them to win as was 2008 for the GOP after 8 years of Bush.

If she wants to be President, she can't wait till 2016.

Does anyone think she no longer wants to be President?

Anonymous said...

Frankly, the breach to security was actually catastrophic (not merely potentially catastrophic).

The fact that the bomb was a dud doesn't make the breach of the security system any less severe. The consequences were averted only by luck.

And frankly he's full of shit at any rate.

It was Obama policy that was at fault. It was Obama Administration policy which allows (and still does) people on the TIDE list of suspected terrorists to both receive visas to visit America and to fly on aircraft.

That's his policy. It's a shitty policy. It is an epic-ly stupid policy.

People were doing exactly what he told them to do - which was to allow suspected terrorist on the TIDE list to fly on aircraft with our husbands and children.

Arturius said...

Was she made Secretary of State for the purpose of hiding her away?

The adagage keep your friends close but your enemies closer leaps to mind.

I give her another year before she shakes the dust of this administration from her soles and starts mounting a (Ted) Kennedyesque insurrection.

Lem the artificially intelligent said...

..where's Hillary?

Where Bill went after Wako.

miller said...

"It's unacceptable" is another way of saying "I probably don't like it but who's to say I'm wrong? Maybe you'll be scared by this statement; maybe you'll figure out I'm just bluffing."

You think anything serious will result from this other than more appearances on TV to say he's really, really concerned?

If he thought it was unacceptable, he'd ask Janet for her resignation while praising her for her service to the country.

Then he'd pick someone for TSA who was concerned with Security and not turf-building and C'ingYA.

He's not serious, though. He's bluffing. Jin-tao figured it out, Dinner-jacket figured it out, and Chavez figured it out. Even the benighted government of Honduras figured it out.

If you expect to speak softly and carry a big stick, you'd better actually know how to wield the stick.

This man-child President is the stand-in waiting for the adult.

Issob Morocco said...

Ann, it is even more painful to know people voted for him thinking he would be more than an empty suit.

Henry said...

I think the first "has" is interesting ("A systematic failure has occurred"). That puts the systematic failure in the present perfect. The failure occurred and may be still going on.

Obama would have done better for himself to say "A systemic failure occurred." Punchier and puts the failure in the past. After this beginning, the next sentence makes it clear that that is what he wants to do. "There was a mix of human and systemic failure that ..." as opposed to "There has been a mix of human and systemic failure..."

Issob Morocco said...

Empty Suit, with no tie, I should point out for the WaPo style editors so they can flesh out their next fawn piece.

vbspurs said...

Where's Hillary? WHERE'S OUR VICE-PRESIDENT, Shoeless Joe Biden??????

BlogDog said...

Hillary is looking more like Dean Rusk every day. And, dare I say, in every way.

Anonymous said...

"It's unacceptable" is another way of saying "I probably don't like it but who's to say I'm wrong?"

No, what Obama is doing is setting up others for the blame.

It was his policy which allowed suspected terrorists on the TIDE list to fly.

But now, he's trying to lay the blame on the "intelligence community" which he will tells us "acted stupidly."

As if it's their fault. As if they are not carrying out his orders.

Obama decided that suspected terrorists on the TIDE list could get visas to visit Disneyland. He decided they would not be put on the no-fly list.

Now, he's trying to make out like he had nothing whatsoever to do with this policy.

My bet is that the solution to this problem will be the elimination of troublesome lists.

Michael said...

Did someone say that he was wearing a SUIT without a tie? I didn't pay much attention, but assumed he was in a sport coat. Only Iranians wear suits without ties.

Careful attention to our President's grammar is going to reveal a lot over the next couple of years. As he is forced to retreat from the prompters and to speak more off the cuff I believe we will see the odd subject and verb disagreeing. Not a big deal, just what you would find with any affirmative action ivy leaguer with a B+ average.

miller said...

It must pain man-child President to no end that there are some who think him a fool, and who use what he says and does as proof.

Ann Althouse said...

"By the way if I wanted to be stared at by Michelle Malkin every time I log in, I would go to her blog. Fortunately this is not a permanent fixture."

You too can stare out of that very spot for a week for $310.

veni vidi vici said...

XWL said what I was gonna, but better and sooner.

wv: "hipoch" -- a very cool period in time.

Ann Althouse said...

"Did someone say that he was wearing a SUIT without a tie?"

I did here:

Michael said...

Oh, my. A suit without a tie is the ultimate fashion gaffe. I am afraid this means he probably wears a track suit on Air Force One.

Beth said...

Where is Hillary? Where is Joe?

It took Bush days to emerge from vacation after the shoe bomber was nabbed by his fellow fliers and a flight attendant. Even then, he said nothing about it until it finally came up at a press conference - not even the first thing discussed at the conference.

Obama is like Bush.

Beth said...

And the shoebomber was tried and put in jail. Like a criminal. By the Bush administration.


Obama is like Bush.

Big Mike said...

By the way if I wanted to be stared at by Michelle Malkin every time I log in, I would go to her blog. Fortunately this is not a permanent fixture.

I have no idea why you're kvetching, David. Two lovely women for the price of one.

miller said...

Beth, I really like your posting, but I have to break the bad news to you: Bush is no longer the President.

Kick that dog all you want, but the guy you should be upset about is on vacation in Hawaii. Well-deserved, too, because the poor thing is so tired.

Big Mike said...

Hey, Peano, have you finished drawing your curve yet?

(Inside joke for mathematicians.)

Scott M said...

Please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, let something obvious, unimpeachable, and irrepairable damage Hillary's political career before 2016.

I don't know if my knee-jerk compulsion to dislike Hillary approaches the Sullivan/Palin zenith, but it's got to be close. Ideology be damned, I just can't stand the woman and loath to even listen to her speak.

Beth said...

miller, that being the case, the same principle ought to apply to those posting "this would never have happened under Bush" and "Bush would have handled this differently" comments. It's perfectly legitimate to compare one president with another, and to compare how partisans react to one versus another. It's history, and we refer to it all the time.

The ONLY time I ever see "Bush isn't president anymore!" from conservatives is when the mention of him doesn't serve their interests.

Sabinal said...

Beth is right. Apart from where the bombs were placed it is the EXACT same issue where
1.airline security faultered,
2.the attack was stopped by the passengers and
3.the president was AWOL.

No one condemned W then why are people condemning O now if it is the EXACT same issue?

Look I'm all for criticizing prezbo when he deserves it (like now) but some of this is over the top when
*it occured under W
*the real glitch occurred at a supposedly secure European airport

either admit we gave too much lineage to W or too much guff to O.

Michael said...

Richard Reid got life plus. I think the underpants guy is subject to 20 years. He is conferring with his lawyer and has apparently decided to clam up. Surprised? But then why would we want to know who might have helped him? Because the system worked.

Unknown said...

It's not like the President used to be an editor or something in his previous life. Oh, wait...

I blame the teleprompter!

Michael said...

Oh, and one other thing regarding our last President. Can we stipulate once and for all that he was the cause of all of our problems and the worst, most inarticulate person to walk the earth? And stupid too?

Good. Now, since he is no longer in charge our present administration needs to fix what he broke. Those who voted against the current administration have not yet unleashed a micron of the crazed rage levied against our last leader. Get used to being in charge, quit being victimized by the minority and for the love of God quit thinking that being hypocritical is the worst thing one can be.

Anonymous said...

"Apart from where the bombs were placed it is the EXACT same issue ..."


Richard Reid was not on a terrorist watch list.

The Obama Administration knew, in advance, that this person was dangerous and they placed him on the TIDE list of suspected terrorists.

Yet ... the Obama Administration chose not to revoke the suspected terrorists visa and prevent him from flying. (The British did revoke his visa in London.)

Nobody knew Richard Reid was a terrorist until after he tried to blow up the plane.

The Obama Administration, on the other hand, did know.

And yet did nothing.

d-day said...

Looking at the Drudge/WSJ headlines just now, they've shortened the grammatical error to "Breach was Catastrophic." Not quite right either.

Beth said...

Yet ... the Obama Administration chose not to revoke the suspected terrorists visa and prevent him from flying. (The British did revoke his visa in London.)

I agree; Obama's administration is accountable for that. And that's the core.

I'm bored and disgusted by the shallow focus on whether Obama wore a tie, or where he was on Christmas vacation. Criticism of how this breach happened is absolutely fair and on target. The other stuff is hot air.

Stephen said...

Beth is spot on. Focus on the issue, not the superfluous.

Dusty said...

"... where's Hillary? Was she made Secretary of State for the purpose of hiding her away?"

It takes two to tango, Ann. Did she accept the position at State to hide away?

Unknown said...

The Hidabeast has been hiding out, reading a biography of Chester Nimitz.

In last last half of 1941, Nimitz, like a lot of other people, knew America entering the war was only a matter of time and figured that anyone afloat when things blew up would be mothballed for the duration, and so made sure he had a cushy little post ashore stateside.

Hilla is doing the same thing.

PS Too bad Nimitz wasn't on somebody's ship for some reason on 12/7/41. He was the death of a lot of US Marines.

TOTWTYTR said...

Hillary was appointed for exactly that reason, however I think Obama underestimated her. She's enjoying his discomfort even more than am I.

Michael said...

The lack of a tie is important, a marker of sorts. One can say that it isn't important, that people who notice such things and comment on them are being shallow if not, worse, judgmental. But serious topics require serious presentation. I am no less knowledgeable or competent if I call on a client without a tie, but I am a lot less respectful of the client and her needs. So it may be "superfluous" but it is nonetheless indicative.

Mark CA said...

Janet and Dennis have got to go - one for stupid comments, the other for real failures in information coordination. And if in fact someone made a policy change to no longer put TIDE-listed names on no-fly lists, or at least an "extra search" list, they must be investigated and removed.

So the latest news has it that Nigerian and Amsterdam airports are now going to use full body image scanners for all passengers flying to US.. Presumably we are paying for them, since I doubt they could afford it. But more importantly, wouldn't the next terrorist pick a different airport? Are we supposed to provide these to every airport in the world that has US flights? Crazy.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

Of course the shoe bomber and panty bomber are different. After Reid the system was supposed to adapt. Funny how Obama can list all the bad things Bush did but can't learn from any of them.

Leland said...

Obama is like Bush.

So does this mean BDS folks will start noting the failures of Obama now? I mean really, lots of people felt like President Bush blew it in terms of DHS and TSA. I don't recall everyone saying, "I'm glad we have the TSA now to make us take off our shoes." No, people were complaining about how pathetically stupid creating a new government bureaucracy was. Instead, we needed to remove what would later be known as the Gorelick Wall, and share intel that would stop the terrorist before they got here. How is President Obama doing that just like President Bush?

Bob From Ohio said...

President Bush learned from Reid. After him, Padila and Moussarri were sent to military custody.

Only after they had no intelligence value were they tried.

Plus, we were in the middle of Afghanistan at the time so I think President Bush was maybe preoccupied. What is O preoccupied with? Golf?

BTW, people are using vacations and golf and ties in the same way as liberals used My Pet Goat and similar things. To mock and erode support.

Sucks that we learned from your side, doesn't it.

BJM said...

Why is Gibbs getting a pass on the "system worked" debacle?

"The system worked," Napolitano declared on CNN during questioning about the lapses that let Abdulmutallab and his devices onto the plane. Gibbs used nearly the same language on CBS, saying that "in many ways, this system has worked," without elaborating.

Napolitano has proved herself a hack by repeating the official flack-generated BS, but Gibbs and those responsible for crafting Obama's initial response and weekend talk show spiel should also be shown the door.

Every one who botched their job, before, during and after the attack must be fired from the lowliest to the highest. Otherwise none of them will take their jobs seriously if they are protected by tenure and/or politics.

Obama has a sworn constitutional and moral duty to keep Americans and America safe.PERIOD.FULL.STOP.

This is not politics-as-usual, it's a matter of life and death for those of us who must fly reguarly.

Fire. them. all. now.

The Dems think Americans are pissed off about the healthcare cock up? Just wait until a plane goes down or a terrorist strikes the homeland on their watch; they ain't seen nothing yet.

ricpic said...

"System? Folks don't need no system. Dey gots me!"

-- The Little Blue Book of Chairman Sotero

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

The ONLY time I ever see "Bush isn't president anymore!" from conservatives is when the mention of him doesn't serve their interests.

And the only time i ever see "Obama is like Bush!" from leftists is when Obama fucks up. Whose interests are being served in this case?

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

And didn't Obama advertise himself as superior to Bush? Didn't he promise to solve the problems caused by Bush and to avoid his mistakes? And now he's supposed to get a pass for being "like Bush"?

It's telling that the left is reduced to this argument.

rhhardin said...

There's nothing wrong with "potential catastrophic breach."

Potential does modify breach, but it's a breach modified by catastrophic, so it's as if there's a noun meaning catastrophic breach that's modified by potential.

Piling on adjectives is so common that there are rules about order:

1. Precentral (ceretain, definite, sheer, complete, slight)

2. Central (normal adjectives: hungry, ugly, funny, stupid, rich, empty)

3. Participles and colors (retired, sleeping, red, pink)

4. Prehead (most noun-like adjectives, Australian, experimental, statistical, political)

Thus "certain rich sleeping Midwestern people."

Digressions from the order serve to mark a foreigner.

See A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language 7.45.

Highly recommended, if you have a summer to read it.

Cover to cover is the way to go.

2000 pages.

Kirby Olson said...

Passive construction:

Has occurred.

He should have taken the blame.

"My lax sense of the terrorist danger contributed to this breach of security. I'm going to stop hanging out at the beach and crack the whip."

That'll be the day.

Unknown said...

Wouldn't having Hillary front and center on this send the message that terrorism is a foreign policy issue?

The Obama administration has been treating it like a criminal justice issue. As such, there's no reason to involve the State Department, any more than the Defense Department.

And from her standpoint, it appears she's in the inner circle, but she doesn't want to be too close to the center.

From Inwood said...

Allen S

Somebody around noon said here that Hillary was like Bush.

Mr. Bingley,

I can't decide whether your comment of 11:55 or Allen S's was the best one on this thread. Both great. But don’t let yourself get too much, er, pride in that.

From Inwood said...


Hell, it's a three-way tie: yours of 11:52 is great also.

worldwhirled said...

What a bunch of rightwing wackos on this site! I wonder how they have time to read and post on this blog. Oh yes. I forgot. They all got laid off from their big corporate jobs. HaHa. How's that Republican economic policy working for you?

From Inwood said...


Unfortunately no public sector folks are getting laid off.

See:Public Sector Drives Deep Into The Night


Key paragraph about Liberal’s alleged compassion & concern for the average guy as opposed to mean-spirited Conservatives who hate the poor & would starve kittens & puppies to pay for greedy private execs’ obscene comp packages:

"Democrats have been surprised that so many downscale voters oppose their big spending programs. Maybe many of those voters have noticed how much of that spending has gone to public-sector union members, leaving the rest of America with a less than happy new year.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the use of potential, aren't you both wrong? Potential and potentially both imply the possibility that something can still take place. The incident about which the president spoke already transpired, so the only potential left is its use as a learning moment.

Robert Mensies said...

The purpose of grammar books is to record the usage of people such as Obama, not to "correct" them.