Kerryism of the Day
The senator's caveats and curlicues.
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 an equally cold eye on the pomposity and evasiveness of John Kerry.
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. To get back to this Kerryism, click "Return to English version."
"Let me just say 1 that the 2 abuse of Iraqi prisoners 3 is 4 unacceptable 5. And the response of the administration 6 has been slow 7. I believe the president needs to [give] 8 an explanation. What happened there has done a disservice to all of our troops 9 10 11, and it 12undermines America's 13 efforts in the region. It [puts] 14 our troops 15 in further jeopardy. It can increase acts of terror against America 16, and it undermines the 17 effort of the United States in the region. So 18it is important to [understand] 19 this as rapidly as possible and to make that explanation 20 to the world."
—Los Angeles, May 5, 2004
Got a Kerryism? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Will Saletan covers science, technology, and politics for Slate and says a lot of things that get him in trouble.
Photograph of John Kerry by Marc Serota/Reuters.