Lipstick On Your Choler (Or: Did You Call Me a Pig?)

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When Barack Obama trotted out a well-worn, folksy phrase about cosmetics and swine on Sept. 9, the political world developed a sudden allergic rash.

The John McCain campaign depicted the remark as deliberate personal attack on vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Former Massachusetts governor Jane Swift, who was heading up a Palin "Truth Squad," accused Obama of calling McCain's running mate a pig — and described the remark as offensive and disgraceful.

Fresh Air's resident linguist examines the furor, asking who's responsible when words get misconstrued — and whether there's an irony when a cultural conservative complains that a progressive has been insufficiently sensitive.



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