Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Abiding my time

I was watching the previous night's edition of The Daily Show last night (yes, I'm in bed by 11 on most weeknights), and was taken aback by John McCain's words heard around the four-minute mark:

"... agitator, troublemaker, malcontent, and a disturber of the peace. These are terms that are often applied to men and women of conscience who will not endure cruelty or abide justice."

Let's put aside the fact that McCain was giving a speech on the spot where Martin Luther King was shot, even though he voted against making it a national holiday.

The phrase "will not ... abide justice" sounds like an obvious gaffe, and I was surprised when Jon Stewart didn't even mention it. "Abide" means "tolerate," right? Surely he meant "abide injustice."

But here's the thing: "Tolerate" is only one definition of "abide," and it's not even the first one. The first definition is "to wait for: await." And I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that's what he meant. Civil rights workers didn't wait for justice--they worked to make it happen.

But it still hits my ear as totally wrong.

And for those of you who didn't realize that I'm a copy editor, now you know.


Dave said...

It rings wrong. I think you're right. He spoke wrong. Wrongly?

I'd guessed your occupation. Now I'm gunshy. Or is that gun shy?

sgreerpitt said...

I heard that too, when watching Stewart (the next day at 8:00 PM). I just assumed a mis-speak (seems McCain's done a lot of those recently). Was not at all aware of the alternative meanings. Thanks for pointing those out.

fermicat said...

He has been making verbal gaffes a lot lately. Apparently, he cannot keep the Sunnis and Shiites straight.

Anonymous said...

Whether he misread his ghostwriter's notes or whether they only realized how his speech came across (after reading your blog, presumably), it's corrected in the online transcript.
(4th paragraph)