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Constitutional experts parse "lipstick on a pig"

Posted by Christopher Shea  September 12, 2008 09:59 AM

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Noted liberal constitutional theorist Lawrence Lessig and the prominent conservative appellate lawyer Erik Jaffe bring their interpretive skills to bear on a crucial text. The Second Amendment? No: Barack Obama's statement that McCain's attempt to portray his campaign as the one that will reform Washington amounts to "putting lipstick on a pig."

Was that an outrageous, sexist dig at Sarah Palin, as the McCain team says? On the Web site of the Politico, Lessig, a professor at Stanford Law, calls this a

shameful misuse of what Obama said. Talk about a question of judgment: If a student of mine had read what Obama said in context, and then suggested he was really talking about Palin, I would seriously worry about whether we should arm that student with a law degree. But a law degree is a much less dangerous power than the Presidency.

Jaffe, a former clerk of Clarence Thomas and now a solo appellate practitioner in DC, retorts:

Surely Professor Lessig would concede that such double meanings are a common rhetorical tool. In this instance, therefore, Professor Lessig's supposed "truth" -- that the comment was in no way directed at Palin -- is nowhere near as obvious as he suggests. (Note here my sigh of relief that I am not one of Professor Lessig's students subject to his grading system … )

Every wonder whether lawyers' political leanings might shape how they view the Constitution? (Perish the thought!) Anyway, in this example of textual interpretation, politics certainly seems to have reared its lipstick-adorned head.

One of the questions raised in the exchange is whether the press is too mealy-mouthed in adjudicating these disputes. So I hereby grant cert. In theory -- in some other hypothetical case -- Jaffe could be correct. In this instance, however, considering the context and having heard the evidence, I rule in favor of Lessig. It's a totally ginned-up controversy.

It is so ordered.

[Vaguely unsettling illustration via mediawingnuts.blogspot.com, though it appears elsewhere, too]

(The Politico makes it hard to to link to specific exchanges on this part of its Web site, but the whole "lipstick on a pig" thread appears here.)

Via Romenesko.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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56 comments so far...
  1. I've heard the "you can't put lipstick on a pig" remark several times in the past.
    I had a Tech Sgt. in the service use it many years ago -- so does that mean he was speaking of Ms. Palin - who was probably in grade school then ????

    Posted by julygold September 12, 08 01:55 PM
  1. As things are going with McCain these days, it'd be just Obama's luck to decide to drop the lipstick line in favor of "you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear..."

    And there would be Sarah the next day wearing a silk dress while McCain blankets the airwaves with yet another ad.

    Posted by MaryCan September 12, 08 02:20 PM
  1. how about we focus on immigration, economy, lost jobs, global standing as world power, war on iraq, instead of wasting money time and energy on this worthless topic.

    why can't republicans stay focused and talk about issues that matter to the rest of us. oh thats right their not like the rest of us, their elitist. check out how many vacation days george bush took amidst this phoney "war on terror". Think about all the troops getting shot at in iraq every single day as george bush relaxes on his couch in texas. the poor families of these children fighting a war for oil money.

    america is a sham. look at what we waste our time talking about....pathetic.

    Posted by scott September 12, 08 02:20 PM
  1. Perhaps the "pig comment" is some kind of conservative or Republican code for " "you're an idiot! " or worse... No wonder they're all upset. So many people before this have been insulted without realizing it.
    What do you think?

    Posted by Bill Daivs September 12, 08 02:20 PM
  1. I guess no one believes in the unconscious anymore, and that any statement has many simultaneous levels of meaning.

    As Freud sais, typische Amerikanische weissenschaft.

    Posted by rhcharach September 12, 08 02:20 PM
  1. Lynne Cheney used the phrase at the 2004 Republican National Convention to refer to Democrats. But that's OK. The expression is only offensive when Democrats use it.

    Posted by Chris M September 12, 08 02:21 PM
  1. Watch the video of the remark. Note the timing of Obama's "lipstick on a pig" remark, along with the guffawing of the audience. Everyone there knew the context of the remark when it was made.

    Using your example, Julygold, lets say that your previous command had issued an order making it acceptable for females in your service unit to wear lipstick while on duty. If you then heard your Tech Sgt use the Lipstick on a Pig statement for the first time, what would you infer?

    Posted by NovemberOwned September 12, 08 02:25 PM
  1. Was McCain referring to Palin last October when he said about Hillary Clinton's health care plan:

    "I think they put some lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig."

    Posted by litho September 12, 08 02:26 PM
  1. I see this like the Hillary middle finger issue. The pause Obama gives for applause, his look and tone while he does them, and the reaction from the crowd point to an intended double meaning in my opinion.

    If you want to attempt justify it with a technicality go ahead and try but I think most people are smart enough to see through it. People's mind aren't a courtroom where lawyers can cover their obvious intentions with technicalities.

    I think the "lipstick on a pig" and "old fish promising change" were intended as double meanings no doubt. Both sides do this. Obama's act of innocence is disingenous in my opinion. Make up your own mind.

    Posted by Cryos September 12, 08 02:37 PM
  1. Obama was clearly referencing the lipstick comment by Palin. Anyone who thinks he randomly used this, of all cliche punchlines, shortly after her statement by coincidence is obviously mistaken. He said it in jest and his audience laughed at the comment. He then said, "You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called change, and it's still going to stink after eight years." Another joking punchline possibly aimed at McCain. Lessig is standing up for a candidate that any law professor at Standford presumebly would. Lets stop thinking Obama used this well known line on "accident" and realize he needs to be much more careful if he wants to win the White House.

    Posted by eric September 12, 08 02:40 PM
  1. How come Palin's own lipstick and bulldog comment isn't seen as an insult to all women or hockey moms?

    Posted by Kiki Dravie September 12, 08 02:48 PM
  1. I am one that is happy to see someone like Sarah Palin on the Republican ticket. These comments by Obama are definitely in the realm of reasonable political humor. I have to believe that Republican complaints about it are not really genuine, since they were quite right to poke fun at Obama being a "community organizer".

    Community organizer - there's a Presidential qualifier!!! HAHHAHAHHAHAHH

    Come on people, what is politics without trading a few jokes that point out what are your opponents perceived weakneses?

    Posted by Richard September 12, 08 03:22 PM
  1. I think "Lipstick on a pig" would definitley describe Obama, I do believe he's jealous of Palin, she is the best thing that's happened to politics in years. She scares him, he could lose the whole thing! I hope he does! Go McCain/Palin!!!

    Posted by bukoda September 12, 08 04:26 PM
  1. Spoken like a true liberal. You guys must really hate a woman who can hold her own and then leave you to expend so much time on useless print when the damage has already been done. Please keep it up; the voters are leaping over to Pallin in droves. You reek of desperation.

    Posted by Landrum September 12, 08 04:28 PM
  1. I heard JOHN MCCAIN use it in reference to HILLARY'S healthcare plan in 2007. Barack Obama used it in reference to the GOP ticket's new platform of change.

    You tell me which one could (although still a stretch and I'm female) be construed as sexist? One goes right after the woman's idea and the other goes after the political party's idea...

    This is just such a joke. I'm sure some people will fall for this stuff, but level headed people aren't going to. They're going to see that McCain can only resort to Rovian tactics. Very sad.

    Posted by Krystyn September 12, 08 04:54 PM
  1. Here's the way Obama should have made hay with what was one of Palin's most memorable lines:

    What's the difference between Sarah Palin and George Bush? ...


    Posted by Jim McC September 12, 08 09:33 PM
  1. But Palin is a vastly under qualified, over ambitious, retrograde, pig, and she does wear lipstick.

    Posted by Edwardo September 12, 08 10:35 PM
  1. Chris Shea of the "Ideas" Section? Showing your partisan stripes? You guys can't help yourself?

    Your "Stanford University Ethics Professor" doesn't know jack about street politics. Obama didn't like the New Yorker cartoon because he knows the base level of voters don't have a clue and would be impacted with that. Obama knows the "go along, get along" Chicago School of hack politics and he knows how to score points not with the egg heads like Boston Globe writers and Stanford Ethics Professors, but with street language. There aren't enough eggheads, and there are a lot of meatheads and that is who he was talking to.

    If you Globe reporters had any street smarts you'd see through his facade. You guys can't help yourself, you think if someone is articulate or has a pedigree, they must have good intentions and be brilliant. George W. Bush went to Harvard and Yale and you guys don't think he's very smart do you? Didn't Deval Patrick want to release a grandmother rapist because he sounded articulate? Patrick appealed to our hopes and aspirations and then helped Ameriquest and the casino industry and the Globe endorsed him. Would a genuine "Man of the People" have to have a brand new Caddilac? He told you eggheads what you want to hear. Obama knows how to titilate your intellectual g-spot. A well turned phrase strokes your mind so well that you guys go into self pleasure mode. Obama scores points with the base street level and the egg heads throw the lead blocks; is that how it works, or are you too dumb to understand that you're being played? Which is it, you're in on it or you're naive?

    If you want to be respected like Tim Russert, you have to be able to spot a phony. This Election has the worst journalism ever, I have never, ever seen the Olberman crazy talk, off his medication nonsense ever. History will show who held to any respectable standards and all the garbage people write will be a testament of where they stood when citizens needed responsible journalism and how this class of "journalists" blew it.

    Posted by Hoped into Submission by Obama September 12, 08 10:40 PM
  1. Bottom Line: It all boils down to INTENTION. Obama knew EXACTLY what he was saying. In fact It sounded more like a cute slick Reverend Wrightism than anything else...using known phrases like "chickens coming home to roost" to dig at people you strongly dislike. And Obama, by his own admission has been heavily inspired by 20 years of Wrightisms..."Audacity of Hope" anyone?

    The real question is why Obama dislikes Palin so much and why does he refer to her as a PIG? The answer is very simple. Palin stole Obama's thunder right from under him. That Mile High 80,000 fan Parthenon Hollywood production complete with an Oprah crying on cue was reduced to rubble the next day at a small sporting goods store in Ohio. Palin, in Obama's arrogant mind, hogged what was supposed to be his….Millions of adoring newly converted believers ready to follow him across the real Bridge to Nowhere.

    Posted by Dr. Dave September 12, 08 11:12 PM
  1. Someone commented that Americans has officially passed the threshold of stupidity. As an outsider looking from the outside in, I can confirm so.

    The American presidential election is not an issue for Americans only. As the sole super power that champions freedom, security and equality; Amercia affects everyone.

    I hope that the majority of Amercian (or at least those who are posting comments online and hopefully do not represent all Americans) will look at the issues carefully and consider which person is most suitable to lead Amercia and the world out of the mess we're in today. These are superificial spins and Steve Schmidt should be crucified by Amercian and put on trial for treason for misleading Amercians into not focusing on the issues at hand.

    For the record, I don't prefer Obama but I would choose him over McCain/Palin anything as the latter's extreme views is so scary; with the current Republican ticket onboard, the likehood of World War III and terrorism by racial/religious radicals would surely increase. And these are on top of the social and economical disasters Amercia is currently in now.

    Posted by WC September 12, 08 11:17 PM
  1. Look, if Obama might not possibly have meant to allude to Palin by the remark, why did the audience choose that particular moment to break out in rowdy laughter? Why didn't the joke immediately preceding that comment -- which was not a cliche like the "pig" remark, but a new joke (lifted in fact from a Tom Toles cartoon) -- not evoke anything like the same response? Isn't it pretty obvious that the audience was reacting to the joke as referring to Palin, and that that was what made them roar in laughter? And if they took it that way, how is it absurd on its face -- as Lessig is basically asserting -- to think that Obama himself might have been intending to communicate precisely that point? Is it really unimaginable that he, Obama, might have known beforehand what his audience knew the instant he uttered his joke?

    Lessing is just one more "intellectual" turned by Obama into a hack.

    Posted by frankly0 September 13, 08 12:16 AM
  1. Obama can't use "listik on a pig" But white men can. This is all racism by white people. been going on for 400 years

    Posted by boyd September 13, 08 02:13 AM
  1. Hear ye, Hear Ye

    From now on, the word pig has been banned from the English dictionary. All pigs are directed to change their names either to Bacon or sausage... all references to pig will be interpreted as a reference to Ms. Palin by the oligarchy

    Posted by Frank September 13, 08 02:48 AM
  1. I'm a Republican and I support the McCain/Palin ticket wholeheartedly. And yet, when I read about the "lipstick on a pig" controversy, I thought it was a stretch to infer that it was said by Sen. Obama as a dig at Gov. Palin.

    UNTIL ...... I saw the video tape. If you haven't seen it, and are basing your comments solely on what you've read - I respectfully suggest that you don't know what you are talking about.

    Sen. Obama starts the line "You can put lipstick on a pig......" and then he pauses and glances downward. The audience starts laughing, and begin to rise to their feet, applauding and grinning broadly at what they know is coming. And then, having waited just the right length of time for full comedic effect, the Senator looks up and delivers the punch line to raucous cheers . None of that comes through when you simply read what the Senator said.

    Yes, John McCain has used this very common old saying, and so have many, many others. But I submit that none of them expected and got a huge laugh and a standing ovation. Why? Because context is everything.

    Ask yourself whether it would have occured to you halfway through the line, as it clearly did to the Senator's audience, that what was coming was a reference to Sen. Palin and her self-referring joke about hockey moms and lipstick - the one thing about her that everyone, no matter how apolitical, had heard about her. I doubt that very many people could truthfully answer that the thought wouldn't have popped into their head even before the Senator finished the line.

    When others have used the phrase, such as John McCain, their reference was to a policy position held by their opponent (Sen. Clinton's health plan, for instance).. The opponent is accused of offering a dressed up version of some old idea. That usage is a normal part of political speechifying.

    In this case, however, as his preceding couple of sentences make clear, Senator Obama is referring to Sen. McCain's and Gov. Palin's presenting themselves as agents of change. So his reference is to his OPPONENTS, not to a particular policy. It is his OPPONENTS who are accused of being (metaphorical) pigs wearing lipstick.

    The problem is that one of those opponents is a woman who has just famously referred to herself as a lipstick wearer. That is what made the Senator's audience laugh uproariously - and why he milked the line. And that is what makes his remark a sexist dig.

    If in identical circumstances, a Repulican had made that remark about a female opponent, he would have been pilloried by reporters, columnists, and - yes - even liberally-inclined law professors. Which is why the attempts to dismiss criticisms of Sen. Obama ring so hollow and sound so hypocritical.

    Posted by jeremiah cole September 13, 08 03:19 AM

    Posted by yt September 13, 08 03:26 AM
  1. Obama didn't use the line by accident. Most people are too stupid to get it. Most politicians are not too stupid but know they can use the public's stupidity to manipulate people into thinking Obama was calling Palin a pig. If you listen to the statement it is clear that McCain's policy is the pig and Palin is the lipstick. Let's move on to serious issues.

    Posted by Tracy September 13, 08 04:02 AM
  1. Four days before the infamous "lipstick on a pig" remark by Sen. Obama, Gov. Sarah Palin was depicted as the lipstick-wearing porcine embodiment of "Federal Budget Earmarks" in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch cartoon.


    Did the Obama campaign see this political satire and work into Obama's speech? Of course they did.

    Posted by Paul September 13, 08 06:57 AM
  1. It is high time Barack should raise the level of his rhetoric towards economic and developmental issues rather than on lipstick- a high school kids' stuff more appropriate in slum books. If Filipinos were eligible to vote in America, Obama will surely get a zero vote. We Filipinos could not forget the insult that Obama has made to the President of the Philippines when he flatly refused to meet her during the recent visit of President Arroyo in the U.S. What our President got was a standard regret letter from Obama, written by his staff in his Stationery. Clearly, Mr. Obama has no education and sensitivenes in foreign dynamics and human relations. We will vote for McCain. At least he knows the value of Asian relations to America. And more importantly, he knows how to treat a Lady travelling haft way of the World to meet the next occupant of the white house. Not to a Black House please.

    Posted by Leonardo "Dodong" M. Rodaje (Manila) September 13, 08 07:09 AM
  1. Sorry to the republicans who are so happy with the Hockey mom ticket.....but let's face it. Sarah Palin is not a very bright bulb. The more she has to talk to the press and debate, the more you will see how limited she is. God forbid they win and McCain Kicks the bucket. (Not an a far fetched situation)

    She is George Bush Jr. with breasts at best. God help us if she ever takes power.

    Posted by donny finkle September 13, 08 07:13 AM
  1. At least the Republicans don't plagiarize cartoonists in their stump speeches.


    Posted by Avigdor September 13, 08 07:25 AM
  1. The lead-up to Obama's remark about lipstick on a pig was almost word-for-word from this Toles cartoon in the Washington Post.


    Toles probably took it as a compliment, rather than plagiarism. The Obamessiah can do no wrong. And if he does, the media will ignore it on his behalf.

    Posted by Avigdor September 13, 08 07:47 AM
  1. Obama = Desperate. She is a strong woman. Please republicans need to focus Scott. How about you liberals stop focusing on her pregnant daughter. The media is so one sided and I am proud America does not pay attention and Obama is taking a dip in the polls.

    He knows he has lost a tons of voters with this pick. He did not pick a strong enough VP his own fault.

    Mccain/Palin 2008

    Posted by njbshu September 13, 08 08:23 AM
  1. The reference to "lipstick" and repeating it over and over again is aimed
    at women voters since they can identify with "lipstick". McCain/Palin/Bush have not mentioned to women voters that McCain once used the very lines on reference to Mrs. Clinton. The deception is obvious to me but those who don't take the time to read will be easily swayed in the wrong direction.

    It is also in attempt to avoid the issues that America is facing like the Economy. Do you want to vote for someone who is so into "Lipstick" and not into your education, your health care, your economy, your middle class taxes (for those below the 250K) that you forget about the well being of this country?

    Posted by ThePoliticalTruth September 13, 08 08:23 AM
  1. A young woman was about to finish her first year of college. Like so
    many others her age, she considered herself to be a very liberal
    Democrat, and among other liberal ideals, was very much in favor of
    higher taxes to support more government programs, in other words
    redistribution of wealth.

    She was deeply ashamed that her father was a rather staunch Republican,
    a feeling she openly expressed. Based on the lectures that she had
    participated in, and the occasional chat with a professor, she felt that
    her father had for years harbored an evil, selfish desire to keep what
    he thought should be his .

    One day she was challenging her father on his opposition to higher taxes
    on the rich and the need for more government programs. The
    self-professed objectivity proclaimed by her professors had to be the
    truth and she indicated so to her father. He responded by asking how she
    was doing in school.

    Taken aback, she answered rather haughtily that she had a 4.0 GPA, and
    let him know that it was tough to maintain, insisting that she was
    taking a very difficult course load and was constantly studying, which
    left her no time to go out and party like other people she knew. She
    didn't even have time for a boyfriend, and didn't really have many
    college friends because she spent all her time studying.

    Her father listened and then asked, 'How is your friend Audrey doing?'
    She replied, 'Audrey is barely getting by. All she takes are easy
    classes, she never studies, and she barely has a 2.0 GPA. She is so
    popular on campus; college for her is a blast. She's always invited to
    all the parties and lots of times she doesn't even show up for classes
    because she's too hung over.'

    Her wise father asked his daughter, 'Why don't you go to the Dean's
    office and ask him to deduct 1.0 off your GPA and give it to your friend
    who only has a 2.0. That way you will both have a 3.0 GPA and certainly
    that would be a fair and equal distribution of GPA.'

    The daughter, visibly shocked by her father's suggestion, angrily fired
    back, 'That's a crazy idea, how would that be fair! I've worked really
    hard for my grades! I've invested a lot of time, and a lot of hard work!
    Audrey has done next to nothing toward her degree. She played while I
    worked my tail off!'

    The father slowly smiled, winked and said gently, 'Welcome to the
    Republican party.'

    If anyone has a better explanation of the difference between Republican
    and Democrat I'm all ears.

    Posted by Rick September 13, 08 08:35 AM
  1. Democrats! They are so inept. They have no idea how to win elections. How could we trust them to run the country? Keep up the good work John and Sarah. Once we are in we can use the same tactics on the rest of the world.

    Posted by Rogailes September 13, 08 08:58 AM
  1. The McCain camp must be careful not to appear even less intelligent than they are . . . if Sarah Palin was being called a 'pig' in the "Lipstick on a pig" comment, then WHO or WHAT was the 'lipstick' -- McCain's policies? I think not. Obama made it very clear that the 'pig' represented McCain's flawed policies. Thus, where does Sarah Palin come in? The 'lipstick'? It requires a bit of logic to figure out that it makes no sense to assert that Palin was being called a pig, nor was she even in the scenario at all. Not to mention the fact that the phrase is widely used, even by McCain's camp. Unfortunately the McCain camp relies on the possibility that individuals are not intelligent enough to figure things out and will become outraged falsely.
    I am beginning to understand why McCain was fifth from the bottom of his graduating class at the Naval Academy. He is not very bright, although very dishonest.

    Posted by Tony September 13, 08 10:04 AM
  1. When McCan was asked by one of the hosts in The View that his ad targeting Obama's lipstick remark as a reference to Palin was a lie, he replied that it was not a lie. Yet he did not explain why it was not a lie. Instead, avoiding to elaborate on his answer, he simply told the host to see some of the ads Obama's camp has described him. It seems that what he was implying was that since Obama's camp had taken his past remarks out of context, it would be fair play for him to return the favor and take Obama's remarks out of context.

    However, an accusation such as calling a competing female vice presidential candidate a pig was not only uncalled for, it showed McCain's lack of judgement and his desperate and degrading attempt at rescuing his presidential campaign. This has got to be the low point of McCain's campaign and what was unclear in the past as to whether Obama or McCain would be the best choice for America had become quite obvious by the recent lowball and denigrating actions of McCain.

    Posted by Michael September 13, 08 10:52 AM
  1. Rick congratulations on your hard work very good, But unfortunately for your dad he pulled yet another republican move on you. Effective like all of their 'tactics' but not true.

    Yes, you did work hard but and it would be an absolute injustice if your grade was split and given to someone else. BUT... this is real life. If you have $1,000,000 to your name and I have $1 to my name, for a month, every month for a year, who is going to starve, not be clothes, or have any sort of shelter without HELP!.

    It is unfortunate that our type of system breeds winners and losers, not so much based on position or choice rather than by circumstance. Have you seen the movie the pursuit of happyness, that is the way the republicans would have it for anyone that is disparaged in any way. That is why they use the 'trickle down from the top' attitude, give breaks to the rich and they will provide services through businesses etc.

    If that is the case, why is it that a CEO's bonus is larger than the sum of the non-execs bonuses is some corporations.

    Let me ask you an alternate questions that I hope perfectly counters your father's foggy lenses. Exxon-mobil earned $11.9Bn in profit in 1 quarter and has been at that average for about the last 3 quarters. You are paying an astronomically high price at the pump (which is also very unjustifiable) but yet the republicans would like to issue another tax break to them, all the while maintaining their ability to set the price at whatever they want. Gouging the consumer - You!.

    Do you appreciate a little income redistribution for that, I bet you do. I'm sure that when you are pumping your $4-5/gallon gas your probably thinking you are getting ripped off with each gallon. I bet you are not thinking, that I am glad that Exxon-mobil is doing so well and that they are taking too much of my money.

    That is the difference between the republicans and democrats, the republicans keep the rich..rich, and the democrats makes everyone rich. Think about it, whenever you had good times it was because a democrat was in the white house (clinton). If you have good times with a republican president then you have to look at one single variable...how big is the deficit that they have (Regan)

    Vote Democrat, don't get fooled by the foolishness, they should win on their stance on issues because they are right. The republicans only have the imposition of fear on their side. They have us in a sorry state right now, anyone considering giving them their vote should also invest in Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Bear and Sterns, Lehman bros...Should I go on.

    Posted by Adrian Jack September 13, 08 11:05 AM
  1. Obama was using a common saying to deride his opponents' sudden embrace of "change" when their platform is the same Republican line we've had for the last 8 years. It is a well-known phrase. He paused FOR HUMOROUS EFFECT. People laughed BECAUSE IT WAS FUNNY. THAT'S ALL THERE IS TO IT.

    He followed it up with a metaphor about a fish and NO ONE HAS BROUGHT UP FISH BEFORE, so that's how you know IT WASN'T ANYTHING OTHER THAN A JOKE -- an accurate one at that.

    And like Obama said the day after, even if he WERE talking about Palin, she would be the LIPSTICK and McCain's platform would be the PIG.

    Republicans are being their usual duplicitous, unethical selves. This is a blatant attempt to dupe unwary voters. IT IS DOWNRIGHT INSULTING, and any undecided voter out there should take serious offense. The McCain campaign just called you a moron to your face.

    Posted by p. cupp September 13, 08 11:19 AM
  1. McCain = LIAR


    Posted by mark September 13, 08 11:27 AM
  1. "The father slowly smiled, winked and said gently"

    What a cute story. I thnk I saw a simiar tale in an Aesop's Fables book. The moral of that story was, reduce complex and broad issues into simple generalizations. In this way the issues can be easily understood, for all. Cute. Its so much clearer to me now. I need to reduce my approach to the issues at hand and think more in terms of cute stories. I see the difference between the parties now. Democrats are too nuanced and Republicans tell quaint tales. Its morning in America!

    Posted by Rogailes September 13, 08 11:51 AM
  1. Of course, Obama inferred Palin is a pig with the lipstick reference. That she is. And that, are all you republicans/independents/democrats who are so taken with a porker dressed up as a "qualified" candidate to be second in command to lead us out of the abyss that was created by another farm animal (jackass) by the name of Bush. So, republican chuckleheads, get over your moral shock - a new day is dawning - a government of, by, and FOR the people is nearly at hand. Obama/Biden and freedom from the idiocy!

    Posted by John Quincy Adams September 13, 08 12:10 PM
  1. Rick -

    You forget that the daughter cannot pass on her grades to her children. I am sure you don't want to do that with wealth.

    Posted by CSS September 13, 08 12:49 PM
  1. It's amazing how people who insist on defending Obama simply can't acknowledge that there is a CONTEXT here, that was established with Sarah Palin's self-deprecating "pitbull" line in her speech.

    That other people have used the phrase IN OTHER CONTEXTS is irrelevant.

    Posted by DRH September 13, 08 01:19 PM
  1. The story is about John Mccain, who perhaps used to have some integrity sinking to a very low level and making up a scandal to fool voters. Anyone can go out on youtube.com and hear what Oboma actually said. It was not about the Gov of Alaska! It was about John Mccain warming over bush policies (the "pig") but claiming that he favors change (the "lipstick"). Obama have been telegraphing some other message? What, that women in general are incompetent? This is ridiculous! John Mccain is expressing mock outrage about a made up nonsense issue and should now apologize and agree to talk about critical issues not smoke screens. I'm guessing that Mr. Jaffe doesn't have much in the way of integrity. For god sakes, aren't we all supposed to believe in democracy here? Doesn't that means people voting based on understanding the positions of the candidates, not confused by this sort of faux scandal or other distractions? I believe we have a duty to avoid employing dirty trick campaign tactics like this one.

    When a candidate from any party uses such distraction approaches, the media should not be falsely "even handed" but should make what is obvious to the informed person clear to the reader: This is a campaign dirty trick on John Mccain's side, not a legitimate disagreement at all.

    Posted by Eric Lewis II September 13, 08 02:03 PM
  1. I am guessing that since the New Messiah aka Barak Obama hasn't had
    >> the courage yet to apologize to Governor Palin for his "Comments
    >> and Characterization" that he meant his comment as it came out. You
    >> can bet your life that Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and the NAACP
    >> would have been on all the airways if the McCain camp would have
    >> used a common phrase "calling a spade a spade (with no malice
    >> intended). They would be calling for his resignation from the
    >> Presidential race as well as his Senate seat. So do we should we
    >> not hold the GREAT ONE to the same standards as the rest of us (the
    >> not so elite) ? That comment by Obama was not a spur of the moment
    >> slip of the tongue. It was well planned and calculated. He made the
    >> delivery, paused for the crowd reaction and then went for the kill
    >> (playing the audience like a puppet). I welcome any talk show
    >> Radio or TV to argue this with me.

    Posted by Stephani September 13, 08 05:29 PM
  1. Isn't this just a case of the pot calling the kettle black?

    Oh....would you like to read too much in to that comment, too?

    Posted by scotane September 13, 08 10:09 PM
  1. This is in fact a tired old joke that is so worn out that it rarely gets laughs anymore. Obama hadsn't used the joke in over a year. Sarah Palin makes an impromptu "lipstick" joke at the convention and Biden and Obama both use the word "lipstick" within a week. I'm sure its' just a coincidence....lol

    Dennis Miller may have gotten it right when he said that it's proof that Palin has gotten inside Obama's head. Whether anyone will admit it or not, the Obama camp is in panic mode. They don't know quite what to do with Sarah Palin at this point. They want to recapture some of that thunder and are so desperate that they are now trying to imitate her jokes.

    I feel obligated to add that I don't think Obama was refering to Sarah Palin. The reaction of the crowd would suggest some of them thought he was refering to her.

    Posted by Mark September 14, 08 12:58 AM
  1. You can put lipstick on a male chavaunist pig, but it's still a male chavaunist pig.

    Posted by Michelle September 14, 08 02:58 AM
  1. Posts 39 & 45 should pretty much wrap this up but the problem is that you CAN put lipstick on a pig and win an election with it. It's already been done twice! It should be called "Bush Doctrine #2": "You can fool enough of the people, enough of the time, to get elected"

    Fool us once, shame on them. Fool us twice, shame on us. Fool us 3 times, SHAME on the US of A

    Posted by xote September 14, 08 04:54 AM
  1. Dems are saying if a hunter shoots a pig with a gun and then a person with the same gun, it shows they didn't intend to shoot the person. That's their whole argument.

    Posted by Old Atlantic September 14, 08 03:40 PM
  1. Well, let's try something new:

    If you put lipstick on Rupert Murdoch...

    He'd probably like it
    God know's what you'd get
    he'd still be a pig

    Posted by Joe September 14, 08 09:46 PM
  1. Awe Shucks!!! I am just a poor ole country boy from So. Cal. What is happening curently is what I hate about what elections have become, nothing but a pig slopfest. Shame on bothside and shame on the news media for agrivating everything. Get to the issues and state them clearly then the people can decide intelegentlty. If all that was reported was good news than 90% of all news people would be out of a job because there is only about 10% dedicated to good news.

    Posted by Mike September 16, 08 06:08 PM
  1. Everyone is getting worked up over nothing! I've heard this phrase before, and I' m positive that Obama was in no way putting Palin down like McCain's campaign is claiming. It's obvious that McCain's trying to get the womens' vote by having Palin as his VP and so pinning Obama as a sexist is just the icing on the cake for his team. I am so sick of how everything in the presidential campaign is being blown way out of proportion. Nowadays, everyone's much too interested in scandals and reading waaaay too deep into every single word that a candidate says. What happened to the war on terrorism? Or the economy? Or all the other pressing issues that we should be focusing on AS WE CHOSE OUR NATION'S LEADER FOR THE NEXT 4 YEARS??? It is a sad, sad world we live in if presidents and VPs are chosen because of their race, gender, and now, apparently, their over analyzed metaphors. The election in '08 is turning into a soap opera!

    Posted by Karen September 18, 08 02:29 PM
    Why are we all spending so much time on one comment that Obama made?
    This is not one of the things we should be discussing and is of no relevance, yes, it may have been a slam at the opposite party, but that does not mean we should dwell upon something so insignificant in the run for president.
    Can we be done now?

    Posted by Bridget September 18, 08 05:50 PM
  1. Aren't there male pigs too? Excuse the obvious, but aren't female pigs technically known as sows?

    Posted by Erin Philip Eaton September 19, 08 10:35 PM
About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
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