Sarah Palin’s lack of command of the English language has led the Global Language Monitor to name “refudiate” as one of the top words used in 2010. When trying to look smart by combining “refute” and “repudiate,” Palin’s verbal faux pas became an Internet sensation.
Another of the top words for 2010 was “spillcam,” referring to British Petroleum’s live streaming video of the Gulf oil spill from May until August of 2010. “Vuvzuela” was another top choice as the annoying noisemakers from the FIFA 2010 World Cup could be heard like a swarm of buzzing mosquitoes in the background of every broadcast.
Palin’s “refudiate” underscores the need for politicians to think before they speak. One of my favorite words chosen in the year 2000 marks another great speaking point from a former politician.
George W. Bush was speaking in Bentonville, Arkansas, on Nov. 6, 2000, as he made one final case for Americans to vote for him on election day. Bush was talking about his power in the Republican party when he defeated Republican Arizona Senator John McCain in the spring primaries:
“They misunderestimated me.”
“They” referred to Bush’s advisers and McCain. “Misunderestimated” was trying to explain he was “misunderstood” and “underestimated.” Bush also needed to get a dictionary. Or, like all presidential candidates, he can say whatever he likes. “Misunderestimate” was a top word for 2000 and one of the most-searched in the decade.
The word stuck with Bush throughout his presidency, according to Time magazine. The American people must have “misunderestimated” Bush when he said there were weapons of mass destruction. Voters must have “misunderestimated” Bush when he got us involved in two costly wars.
ABC News even points out other great Bushisms even before he took office. Perhaps Sarah Palin is looking to get elected on the Republican ticket in 2012 if she keeps making up words.
“Misunderestimate” vs “Refudiate”
“Refudiate” was spoken by Sarah Palin on a news show and was made worse when she posted the same word on Twitter. The mouth of the Tea Party said what? America’s presidential choice for 2000 also misspoke as he was trying to convince the United States to make a good choice on election day.
Politicians are far from perfect. In this media-driven sound bite world, every single phrase uttered by elected officials is recorded, made fun of, imitated and spread through social networks in a matter of hours. In its best form, “Saturday Night Live” will get a hold of your phrase and claim you can see Russia from your house.
The impact “misunderestimate” had in my mind over the past 10 years is that American voters will settle for less as long as there is the right spin put on a candidate. No matter how badly Bush spoke, he was still elected not once but twice. Maybe Palin is channeling Bush in gearing up for a presidential run; hence “refudiate.”
Global Language Monitor.
Global Language Monitor, “Top Word List”
Time Magazine, “Top 10 Bushims”, Time.com.
Wolf, Buck, “‘Misunderestimated’ Bushisms ‘Resignate'”, ABC News.