There’s a lot of “back” talk this election

When we say “I’ve got your back,” we’re telling the other person that he (or she) can rely upon us.  We’ll be there to catch them when they fall.  When you turn your back on someone, you are abandoning them, and doing so in a rude and public fashion.  Back metaphors, in other words, bespeak trustworthiness or abandonment.

I’ve noticed that this election campaign involves a lot of references to Obama’s back.  For example, this video talks about the way in which Obama has turned his back on Israel, after first trumpeting that “I have Israel’s back” (h/t NRO’s Corner):

Sandra Fluck’s incoherent convention speech made explicit references to backs too:

The Democratic National Convention bumped Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke up into the 10 p.m. hour, where she received a standing ovation and told delegates they faced a choice between “a country where our president either has our back or turns his back.”

And the Economist did a fairly nasty cover asking about Obama’s plan for the next four years — and showing his back:

I’m sure you can find many more examples, but those three struck me in the last 24 hours. My question for you is this: Why has Obama’s back become such a powerful metaphor for his presidency? Is it really the best short hand for talking about his reliability (or lack of same) and his way of throwing people under the bus?

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Comments

  1. JKB says

    Well, it is all you see when you are of no more use to him.  I’m sure that is all the US will see when he leaves office be it next January or in 2017.  He’ll move on to try his hand at the United Nations game with no loyalty to the US unless it suits his purposes.  We’ve already seen that Chicago will be seeing his back once he leaves office and heads for Hawaii.  Many of the groups who supported him with so much emotion in 2008 have seen him walking away.  So, his back is a good metaphor.

     

  2. JKB says

    BTW, Obama needs to turn around, at least for tonight, face reality and those 23 million unemployed faces and their kids.

    I see tonight as this:

    Tonight, President Obama will be appearing before the stakeholders to present his Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) in hopes of having his contract extended.  The stakes are high since an extension will define the nation’s journey for the next four years.  We know his past accomplishments in the job and also the areas where he’s failed to achieve our expected outcomes.  So, the question is, will Barack Obama present a detailed PIP with measurable milestones or will he try to use wit and charm to cause the stakeholders to react with emotion rather than pragmatic realism? 

  3. Mike Devx says

    JKB said in #1: Well, it is all you see when you are of no more use to him.  I’m sure that is all the US will see when he leaves office be it next January or in 2017.  He’ll move on to try his hand at the United Nations game with no loyalty to the US unless it suits his purposes.

    I agree completely.  We see the real character of a President once he leaves office.  

    The good and the bad of Carter:  Building houses for the homeless and unfortunate, along with vicious smear after smear of Israel.  

    With George W. Bush, he respectfully retreated into the background and has remained respectfully quiet.  An admirable, wonderful man, even if I disagree with many of his policies and choices.

    What will we see when Obama leaves office?  I think it will be *very8 illuminating.  Those of us with terrible impressions of Obama… I think we’ll see them confirmed, once internal American politics no longer holds him back.  Plus all the media silence, which is in place solely for political reasons, will finally break.  I think it will be very interesting.
     

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