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Is Microsoft Word a Republican Operative?

By       Message Adam Bessie       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   5 comments

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Is Microsoft Word a Republican Operative?

Type in Obama into Microsoft Word, and you'll find the squiggly red line, suggesting that out of the spell-checker's compendious lexicon, the Democratic Presidential candidate is misspelled, or not found.

What does Word suggest?


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The 2008 edition of Microsoft Word has, indeed, "not gotten to know" Obama, as Republicans have been saying for the last two years, and in a digital Freudian slip, has provided the name of the notorious terrorist who we have also "not gotten to know," or rather, not found since 2001.

Sure, it could be a simple mistake.  Take a look at your keyboard – S and B are very close together.  They are three letters and a row apart, but what other words could possible share that strange combination of letters that makes up Obama's name?  Certainly, no real "American" words, like frankfurter,  or  McCain.  I mean, can we really expect Word to know all these strange, foreign-like names?

Sure, this slip could just point to how Americans – who have never had a candidate for President with a name more "exotic" than Herbert – are latently xenophobic, that deep, deep down, Osama and Obama really are just one letter a part in our minds.   That "Hussien" as middle name is not a coincidence, as conservative pundit Michael Savage frequently points out.  And despite all evidence that he has grown up in the states as a Christian, and has lived the quintessential American Dream, he is somehow not one of us.

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These are all reasonable explanations.

But I prefer to think this is an ingenious ploy by the Republican Party to shape our unconscious. Think: how many of us use Microsoft Word?  What an excellent - and yet untapped - growth opportunity, repeated across endless screens – Obama, Osama, Obama, Osama, Obama, Osama, Obama, Osama –married linguistically, and thus, conceptually.

But to be fair, Word does give it to Palin: type her name in, and you get a red squiggly line, with a suggested word – pain.


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Adam Bessie is an assistant professor of English at Diablo Valley College, in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a co-wrote a chapter in the 2011 edition of Project Censored on metaphor and political language, and is a frequent contributor to (more...)

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