The President Said What?

What power words hold. The president gave a short speech on the White House lawn during a congressional picnic that featured the music of Kermit Ruffins and The Barbeque Swingers, a band from New Orleans. A snippet of that speech is causing a stir in the blogosphere. Let me quote it for you.

THE PRESIDENT: … Kermit, we’re proud to have you.

MR. RUFFINS: Well, thanks for having us.

THE PRESIDENT: Kermit Ruffins and the Barbeque Swingers, right out of New Orleans, Louisiana. (Applause.)

MR. RUFFINS: Thank you. Thanks for having us. We’re glad to be here.

THE PRESIDENT: Proud you’re here. Thanks for coming. You all enjoy yourself. Make sure you pick up all the trash after it’s over. (Laughter.)

Did he really ask the band, a group of black men, to clean up after the congressional picnic? Is he really a racist? I am by no definition a fan of our current president. At times I have felt that the man is quite…not so smart. I never thought he would be this stupid. Still I thought it would make a great topic for a blog entry. Well, I was correct, but not for the racist comment the rest of the blogosphere is talking about. Let me dirgress.

My friend Steve is a journalist. When we were roommates in college we had lots of fun discussions, and at least several serious talks. When it came to his profession he was adamant, nearly rabid at times, about fact checking. I still have a draft version of a creative writing class assignment from those college years. Steve reviewed the assignment for me and placed a big fat FE (fact error) on a section where I had spun the truth a tad bit. It stuck with me. To this day I don’t trust much of what I read from unknown sources. If I am personally curious or otherwise think I should share the information, I try to do independent fact checking on my own. This has become incredibly important in the world of the internet where a small child is still collecting matchbooks trying to break the Guinness Book of World Records before he dies, and that poor soul in Nigeria still can’t get his family fortune out of the country. Snopes.com has become a favorite site of mine. Check it out.

So I started fact checking. I wanted to get this morning’s blog accurate after all. I was planning on having fun with this!! This was going to be nearly as good as when the president started giving German Chancellor Angela Merkel an unwanted shoulder rub!

I found the above quote on more blogs, some that I have come to admire. One page in particular jumped out at me when I googled as part of my research. The White House press release web page had the same quote!! Now we are cooking! It is right there on the White House’s own page! It is true! He asked the band to pick up the trash!
But still there was that little voice that said “is someone in the White House trying to sabotage the president, or is something else going on?” I was curious.
I found a link to a video clip of the speech on the White House page, and it all became clear to me. (You’ll have to click on the video link yourself if you are interested. It seems the White House will let you link to text and audio, but not video.)

In the video, it is clear that Kermit Ruffins leaves the podium, and that the president turns back to the congress-critters and tells THEM to pick up the trash, not the band as the quoted text would leave us to believe.

Whomever transcribed the speech should have included more words. Descriptive words of what was happening. For example:

MR. RUFFINS: Thank you. Thanks for having us. We’re glad to be here.

THE PRESIDENT: Proud you’re here. Thanks for coming. (To the audience.) You all enjoy yourself. Make sure you pick up all the trash after it’s over. (Laughter.)

This wasn’t the blog entry I had envisioned when I started out this morning. But perhaps it is a better entry that just another voice on the “pick up all the trash” bandwagon.

This is not about the US president. This is about words and the power they have. A few uplifting words at the right place and time and we end up with men walking on the moon in 1969. A few words left out of a innocuous speech, and a president is labeled a racist. A few words that spin the truth a tad bit, and we end up surging the death count of American soldiers and Iraqi soldiers and civilians. Words have power. When used to entertain they have the power to make us laugh and cry. Whether they are used in lies or in truths, they have power. We should all demand that there be no fact errors in the words used by our president, politicians, corporations, media and fellow bloggers.

Words have power. Use them wisely. Use them for truth.

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2 Responses

  1. […] Newt Normal 11:19 am The President Said What? « Blogtide Rising: “In the video, it is clear that Kermit Ruffins leaves the podium, and that the president […]

  2. Awesome post, Dev.

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