Kerryism of the Day.

The senator's caveats and curlicues.
May 20 2004 12:12 PM

Kerryism of the Day

The senator's caveats and curlicues.

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What did he say?

Since 2000, Slate has poked fun at George W. Bush for his torture—some say it's merely abuse—of the English language. Our "Bushisms" collection captures (as Editor Jacob Weisberg explains in his latest volume) the president's ignorance, incuriosity, laziness, and thoughtlessness expressed in frequent gaffes. Now that Democrats have settled on a presumptive presidential nominee, it's time to cast a cold eye on the pomposity and evasiveness of John Kerry.

William Saletan William Saletan

Will Saletan writes about politics, science, technology, and other stuff for Slate. He’s the author of Bearing Right.

Here's how to read a Kerryism. The text below is Kerry's quote translated into plain English. Kerry's actual quote, however, is full of caveats and pointless embellishments. To read these, click the numbers above the text, which will take you to the caveats and embellishments, presented as footnotes. (Words in brackets before a number are what a normal person would have substituted for the ornate phrase Kerry delivered. To see the ornate phrase, click the number and read the footnote.) To return to the main text, click the number at the beginning of any footnote. To see the whole quote as Kerry delivered it, with all the caveats and embellishments, click here  or scroll down.

Question: You talked about the overextension of the troops. Do you think this course is ultimately going to lead to the institution of the draft?

Kerry: [No] 1. I would be against that 2. I don't think we need it 3 4. [The president ought to ] 5 6 7 8reduce the overexposure 9 of America's commitments. A proper approach to the Korean Peninsula, for instance, should include the deployment of troops, the unresolved issues of the 1950s, and 10   11 could result in a reduction of American presence 12.

—New York City, April 14, 2004

[1] I hope not

[2] in the current form

[4] particularly if we did the proper diplomacy

[5] The effort of the president ought to be to try to find ways to

[7] right now

[9] in a sense

Kerry version:
I hope not. I would be against that in the current form. I don't think we need it now, particularly if we did the proper diplomacy. The overall effort of the president right now ought to be really to try to find ways to reduce the overexposure, in a sense, of America's commitments. A proper approach to the Korean Peninsula, for instance, should include the deployment of troops, the unresolved issues of the 1950s, and ultimately, hopefully, could result in a reduction of American presence, ultimately.

Return to English version.

Got a Kerryism? Send it to kerryisms@slate.com.

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