Thursday, December 06, 2007

Oprah to run with Obama

I know it would be bizarre, but Reagan ran for president in 1980. Remember the scene in Back to the Future where Doc asks Michael J. Fox who is president in 1984? And he says, "Ronald Reagan," and Doc goes nuts.

If a Chesterfield's smoker can run for president, surely so can the woman who introduced middle America to The Secret.

What does Barack have to gain from an Oprah endorsement and running mate? First of all, the O. With the success of Office Space in the 1990s came the cultural acceptance of the paradoxical "whigger"--someone who literally fights the man everyday.

The main scene I remember from Office Space (not to be confused with the real The Office (wassap steve carrell! holla back, scranton!). Check out the video embedded below:

O Face

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Office Space...give em the o face..Office Space....give them the o face

The sexuality of the unending cyclicity of the character O would provide the implicit message 'bama needs to send: "I can handle the O", in short, I'm not from Nation of Islam, as some are saying, I'm from the Nation of Americans for Truth and Justice as promised by law.

William Safire: What does I can handle it mean?

"Print hides the voice," says Frederic G. Cassidy, chief editor of the Dictionary of American Regional English. "If I could have heard the gentleman speak it, I'd be more certain of what he really meant." One meaning, says the man from DARE, is "I can control something that needs control"; a quite different meaning, indicated by inflection, is "This hurts (my pride, dignity, sense of what I deserve), but I can accept it and not let my feelings show."

Allan Metcalf, executive secretary of the American Dialect Society, agrees: "On the one hand, it means 'I am handy enough to accomplish whatever task is handed to me.' On the other hand, it means 'Hand me all the abuse you want; I promise I won't fly off the handle.' To decide which meaning was intended, you look for the context in which the statement was handed out. Of course, a speaker who doesn't want to tip his hand might say, 'I can handle it' and keep both possibilities in hand." (In one pedagogical burst, Professor Metcalf illustrates the handhandy-handle connection as well as five dialect usages of hand , a handsome effort.)

"I would like to have heard him say it," says David K. Barnhart, general editor (as distinct from specific editor) of Lexik House, "particularly the word it ; the intonation pattern can turn a phrase from friendly to begrudging. Remember that General Schwarzkopf is in a subordinate position; he has to accept the decisions made by his superiors. The expression in this military context might be construed as saying: 'I can obey orders,' which can mean 'Your order is my command' or 'I will obey orders, even though I think it's a mistake.' "

There may be another way of getting a handle on this. Let us go beyond general lexicography to a specific field in which the expression has gained particular meaning.

"Yes, the verb handle is used in the psychiatric profession," says Dr. Leah Dickstein, a psychiatrist in Louisville, Ky. "Psychiatrists often ask, 'Can you handle it?' about a specific problem, and patients say, 'I can handle it.' A synonymous expression used more often is deal with ."

Let's go deeper; this department does not flinch from horrific revelation. "I suspect that the term handle is used more often by men than women," opines Dr. James Nininger, a psychiatrist in New York. "That may be because handle suggests being in control of a situation; men more often than women speak of 'handling it,' as being able to do something alone or being able to handle responsibility.

"The word handle ," Dr. Nininger continues, "provides an image that involves hands or a concrete handle to take hold of. Frequently the expression is used in the negative, as in 'I'm not sure I can handle it' -- that indicates a breakdown, at least temporarily, in ego functioning or control. Put positively, 'I can handle it' means being able to negotiate the variables or complexity of a situation and not losing control of oneself."

O.K., Norman, stretch out on this couch. Relax. Forget about what that anonymous White House aide meant when he said you were suffering from "camera fatigue." Do not be conflicted by the necessary avoidance of conflict.

Cast your mind back to the day the war was about to end, life was simple, the media feared you and the public loved you, and that nice General Powell came on the phone from the Oval Office to talk about stopping the shooting sometime before it had been initially planned.

When you said, "I can handle it," did your tone indicate a meaning of "Just leave it to me," as imputed by General Powell, who added either the characterization or report "It's fine with him"? If so, then your words meant that you raised no objection to the suspension of hostilities at the time, and your subsequent imputations to interviewer David Frost were self-serving, inaccurate and deserving of your abject apology to your Commander in Chief.

Or by "I can handle it," did you mean "I know what a chain of command is; I can take the stress, I can negotiate the complexities and not go through the roof, even though I know history will condemn us all for letting those Republican Guard units free to blow all the Kurds away"? If that was your meaning, then you did indicate you would follow orders but did not agree with them, and your subsequent apology was intended to conceal an embarrassing difference of opinion that did exist.

Intonation is all. A phrase's meaning is conveyed not by words alone, but by body language, inflection, emphasis and structures so deep as to be unfathomable to the shrinking deconstruction worker. The lexicographers all make clear that the recipient of meaning had to be there, on the line, hearing the subtle sound, to know what was meant. As early semiosemanticists liked to say, "It ain't what you say, it's the way that you say it."

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