Opinion: So what’s up with Obama’s talk about Washington being ‘wee-weed up’?


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President George W. Bush was famous for mangling the language. (Exhibit A: “Childrens do learn when standards are high and results are measured.”)

President Obama is a surer commander in chief of nouns and verbs, but along with a general level of eloquence displays a startlingly slangy vocabulary.


In remarks at a healthcare forum Thursday, the president talked about how public opinion goes up and down and how, a year ago, some critics declared that Obama “lost his mojo” after Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain tapped Sarah Palin to be his running mate. Obama tried — apparently — to tell his audience not to take such predictions of setbacks too seriously.

According to the White House transcript, he said:

There’s something about August going into September -- [laughter] -- where everybody in Washington gets all wee-weed up. [Laughter.] I don’t know what it is. [Laughter.] But that’s what happens.”


We learned of this arresting locution from our colleague Mark Silva at the political blog The Swamp. (Click here to read his report.)

Wee-weed brings to mind ...

... Obama’s first presidential news conference, in February, when he defended his stimulus package as the best way to jumpstart the economy: “Look, I would love not to have to spend money right now. This notion that somehow I came in here just ginned up to spend $800 billion, that wasn’t -- that wasn’t how I envisioned my presidency beginning.”

It’s not every day your hear a president say “ginned.” And he did it again in July:

“So to all -- everybody who’s out there who has been ginned about this idea that the Obama administration wants to spend and spend and spend, the fact of the matter is, is that we inherited an enormous deficit, enormous long-term debt projections. We have not reduced it as much as we need to and as I’d like to.”


Whether “wee-weed” will make a return appearance remains, as they say, to be seen. And as long as we’re on the topic of words, it’s worth mentioning a recent publication from UCLA’s linguistics department, ‘UCLA Slang.’ We learned of the book through the Times’ immensely readable books blog, Jacket Copy.

With the president’s polling numbers taking a hit recently, he might be delighted to learn that, along with the slang terms ‘presh’ (for precious) and ‘schwa’ (for wow), there’s a new synonym for “cool.”

The word? “Obama.”

-- Steve Padilla

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