From Fresh Air (from WHYY Radio)
September 16, 2008
Lipstick On Your Choler (Or: Did You Call Me a Pig?)
By Geoff Nunberg
When Barack Obama trotted out a well-worn, folksy phrase about cosmetics and swine on Sept. 9, the political world developed a sudden allergic rash.
The John McCain campaign depicted the remark as deliberate personal attack on vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Former Massachusetts governor Jane Swift, who was heading up a Palin "Truth Squad," accused Obama of calling McCain's running mate a pig — and described the remark as offensive and disgraceful.
Fresh Air's resident linguist examines the furor, asking who's responsible when words get misconstrued — and whether there's an irony when a cultural conservative complains that a progressive has been insufficiently sensitive.