Sunday, May 15, 2011

Quick Quiz: Guess Which Word the "60 Minutes" Guest Had in Mind When He Misspoke and Uttered "Denigrate"; Case of "Synaptic Misfire"

At one point during his “60 Minutes” interview Sunday, President Obama was asked to respond to the many “influential people on both sides of the aisle” in Congress who were saying that with Osama bin Laden now dead, we should hasten our withdrawal from Afghanistan. Obama replied by pointing out that the U.S. had increased troop levels in Afghanistan to “blunt the momentum of the Taliban and create platforms that would allow us to go after al Qaeda directly.” He then added, “We’ve denigrated al Qaeda significantly even before we got bin Laden and I think it’s important for everybody to understand that the work that’s been done in Afghanistan helped to prepare us for being able to take bin Laden out……”

Clearly, the word denigrate does not fit into the context at all. See for yourself by playing the video clip below. In fact, as soon as I heard this sentence while playing the recording on my DVR, it was apparent to me that Obama, whose command of the language is stellar, meant to utter a similar-sounding word which has a completely different meaning and that he had fallen victim to what I call “synaptic misfire” or a “synaptic malfunction” – something that happens once in a while to even the best of us.

As an intellectual challenge, I urge you to try and guess the similar sounding word which would have correctly expressed Obama's thought and which would fit into the context perfectly. Feel free to email me or call me at 281-463-2500. My next post—about a week from now—will have the answer to this "quick quiz."

© Copyright 2011 V. J. Singal

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