Obama warns of the "old okey-doke"

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Thu Jan 24 22:16:33 UTC 2008

On Jan 24, 2008 4:59 PM, <RonButters at aol.com> wrote:
> In a message dated 1/23/08 10:31:22 PM, bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU writes:
> > ---
> > http://www.boston.com/news/politics/politicalintelligence/2008/01/when_obama_call.html
> > Obama used the friendly setting to urge voters not to be fooled by
> > what he said were untruths coming from Hillary Clinton's campaign.
> > "They're trying to bamboozle you. It's the same old okey-doke," he
> > said, using a slang phrase for a con. "Y'all know about okey-doke,
> > right? It's the same old stuff."
> > ---
> It seems to me that Obama is merely using the somewhat archaic phrase
> "okey-doke" in the ordinary sense of "OK," i.e., the discursive sense "everything's
> fine". The reporter is the one who glosses it as "a con." Obama is just
> signalling his usual mantra that Clinton is somewhat old fashioned (and "okey-doke"
> old gal) who hopes to reasure the public with the same old "Don't worry,
> everything is basically fine" attitude.

That interpretation seems unlikely, considering that Obama prefaces
the "okey-doke" line by saying "They're trying to bamboozle you."
Here's more context for the bamboozling theme:

"They're trying to bamboozle you. It's the same old okey doke. You all
know about, okey doke, right? It's the same old stuff. Just like if
anybody starts getting one of these e-mails saying 'Obama is a
Muslim.' I've been a member of the same church for almost 20 years,
praying to Jesus with my bible. Don't let people turn you around
because they're just making stuff up! That's what they do. They try to
bamboozle you, hoodwink you."

So I think it's pretty clearly HDAS sense 1, 'a swindle; trick or deception'.

--Ben Zimmer

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

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