"bully pulpit"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Sun Aug 16 20:34:40 UTC 2009

Maybe too obvious to mention.

TV news uses this phrase all the time.  Having been educated just before
the Collapse of Allusion, I've pretty much always understood it to mean what
Theodore Roosevelt intended it to mean:  the ability of the President, as a
promonent influential figure, to get his ideas across.

Then a cynical thought hit me.  What if....?  Do they really....?  So I took
a small informal poll of college grads in their natural habitats.

My lawyer friend (former history major) went with Roosevelt, as did
my Office of the State Supreme Court buddy.

But others thought it meant that the Prez has power to bully just about
anyone into doing almost anything he says, and that mention of his "bully
pulpit" implies it's time to stand up to the S.O.B.  Just who does he think
he is, anyway?

The confusion is apparently so frequent that Wackipedia has a note:

The ray of hope here is that the confusion seems endemic to have nothing
to do with party affiliation.


"There You Go Again...Using Reason on the Planet of the Duck-Billed

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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