Sunday, September 7, 2008

Who you calling maverick? The debate Obama and McCain won’t have (so we will)

Words mean something.” Sure, you’d expect to see a statement like that on a word-lover’s blog. Surprise—those three words belong to Barack Obama, as quoted in today’s New York Times.

But what exactly do words mean?

Audacity, meet maverick

When I was finding the right words for Smart Words, two that I included were “audacity” and “maverick.” This happened months before we knew who our presidential candidates would be. (Unlike blogs, books still take a bit of time a-borning.)

“Audacity” is boldness and adventurousness. “Maverick” is from Samuel Maverick, a Texas rancher who refused to brand his cattle; his namesake word means one who is an independent thinker.

Barack Obama is the author of The Audacity of Hope. John McCain will tell you he’s always been a maverick.

But after the Democratic and Republican conventions, one wonders if either candidate should claim ownership of either word.

McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin was one where “audacity” fits easily into the sentence. It certainly was bold, and no doubt will prove to be adventurous. Whether it was wise is another matter.

Barack Obama, meanwhile, refused to let himself be branded as an impossibility and became the country’s first African-American presidential candidate. Some would call that the mark of a true maverick.

Words mean something.” But not always, and not only, what they set out to mean.

What do you think, fellow word-lover? I’d love to hear from you. Just click on “Post a Comment” on the next line…and let’s have words.