The Blog

Obama Language Watch

9:27 AM, Jun 3, 2009 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

In an interview with NPR on Monday President Obama said that being direct and honest will be one of the keys to Middle East peace. In interviews he's given previewing his Cairo speech, while he has noted the value of being a good listener, he has also emphasized the importance of straight talk.

Interesting, then, to note a subtle shift in his language. Over the past week, Obama has repeatedly referred to Palestinian "incitement" as an impediment to progress on the peace process. He often uses "incitement" in places where other presidents have used "attacks" or "terrorism." So in his press conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Obama said their "frank exchange" included his view "that it was very important to continue to make progress in reducing the incitement and anti-Israel sentiments that are sometimes expressed in schools and mosques and in the public square." And in an interview with the BBC Obama called on Palestinians to "deal with the security situation, to eliminate incitement." And in his interview with NPR he said: "I've said to the Palestinians that their continued progress on security and ending the incitement that I think understandably makes Israelis so concerned -- that that has to be -- those obligations have to be met."

It will be interesting to see whether Obama in Cairo uses the kind of blunt language he says he believes in
or the euphemism that he so often employs.