Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Democratic Party Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Please watch the above, and listen carefully.

How does someone like this become the spokesperson of a major political party, much less get elected to Congress?

  • Her response to Marco Rubio’s undeniably accurate statement was a pure ad hominem attack.
  • Her explanation for why the President’s intentional misrepresentation isn’t the lie that it obviously is consists of nothing but assertively delivered double-talk and irrelevant talking points that do not address the issue.
  • She thinks “misled” is pronounced “myzeld.” Let me repeat that…

She thinks “misled” is pronounced “myzeld!!!!”

I am not surprised at the first; the second is standard operating practice for this Congresswoman (and she has lots of company these days, on this topic), but the last is the canary dying in the mine.

Wasserman Schultz makes an English comprehension error that is common among grade-school children. We mocked my sister for this one when she was 10. Wasserman Schultz didn’t even wonder about her pronunciation after hearing her interviewer properly pronounce the word twice. This suggests, as anyone familiar with her has long suspected, that she never really listens to what anyone else is saying. (Ann Althouse gives her way too much slack, calling this error one common to people who read too much. Kids who read too much, yes. For an adult like the Congresswoman—she’s 47—it is an error that can only be attributed to listening, and thinking, too little.

How can the U.S. hope to educate its children when its elected officials, role models, sound illiterate? She must have heard and read the word many times. That she never had the intellectual curiosity to wonder what this “mis-led’ word everyone was using meant, or why it was that everyone over the age of 8 pronounced “misled” this way rather than “myzeld.”  This leads me to wonder if she’s just not all that sharp—but then, every interview I’ve ever listened to involving her made even a stronger case in that direction.

Not that Wasserman Schultz doesn’t have a legitimate beef with, well, everybody. Where were her teachers? Where was her family? Friends? Dates? Surely many, many people have heard her mangle this word through the years.  Why didn’t they say something? Letting someone you know do this is the language equivilent of not telling her that there’s a big piece of spinach on her teeth or a green booger dripping out a nostril—for decades. I used to think hors d’oeuvre” was pronounced “whores devours”until I was about 12, when my mother disabused me of that misapprehension. I went to college with a guy who confessed during a late night bull session that he thought the animal was a “rhinoferous” until his junior year in high school. My father used to mix up the words “fiesta” and “fiasco,” calling the latter a “fiesca.” We  constantly admonished him about it—I’m pretty sure he kept doing it just to annoy me. But he wasn’t on TV, and he wasn’t a member of Congress.

The most prominent members of society have a duty to model civility, good grammar, honesty, and literacy. I know Debbie Wasserman Schultz doesn’t believe in listening to anyone, and since her intent is usually to defend a partisan position in the absence of facts and logic, this can be helpful. In this instance, however, it just makes her look foolish.

______________________

Pointer: Ann Althouse

 

61 thoughts on “Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Democratic Party Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz

  1. Subtle tripped me up in high school and it was so embarrassing I still remember the exact time and place it happened. As for Wasserman Schultz she’s become a less interesting and forgivable Biden.

      • I always thought it was CH-itinous as well. Learn something new every day. My girlfriend always bags on me for pronouncing periordical pear-iodical instead of pier-iodical. But my all-time favorite is my dad calls a certain wild canine woof (and the plural is wooves).

            • Do yourself a favor and go to HPPodcraft.com, they have really good literary analyses of all of his published works as well as some long-form recordings of full stories. Go on, listen to one alone at night. Or if you can fine the audiobook version of his poem cycle “Fungi From Yuggoth,” well, I tried and failed to get through it on an evening walk in the woods. I’m not affiliated with the site, either, I just love it. Oh, and while I am pretty good at pronouncing words, he did teach me what “Sqamous” meant.

    • I pronounced “incisors” as “in-scissors” in 4th grade while reading out of the textbook for the class. They all laughed at me. Lesson learned.

  2. My father used to make that mispronunciation of “misled” as a joke. And my mother thought that “albeit” was pronounced “allbait” until she was grown up – but that was because she was brought up in France where she only spoke English at home, so although she had read it in books she just happened never to have heard it before.

  3. Guys, guys, guys… Wasserman-Schulz almost certainly knows how to pronounce “misled.” Watch her carefully here. SHE WAS READING OFF A TELEPROMPTER. This kind of pronunciation error is VERY common when people do that sort of thing.

    There are other moments in this clip that reveal this – including one in which she clearly goes off script for a moment. If you know what to look for, you can see this in both body language and voice tone.

    This clip isn’t outrageous because a fave leftie attack dog mispronounced a two-syllable word. It’s outrageous because the network wasn’t actually conducting an interview; it’s outrageous because the network was collaborating in a set piece.

    • Are you sure, Arthur? Because if so, that is a scandal. I find it hard, though, to believe that DWS can’t ad-lib sich idiocy confidently, since she does this so often. As for reading “misled” wrong—I’ve used teleprompters on TV, and unless you’re Ron Burgundy or its a breaking news story, you read the text before you’re on the air.

      Then again, she’s an idiot.

      • Surely not an idiot. I bet her IQ is higher than mine. The problem is with American politics. You could write the same kinds of things about every DNC and RNC Chairman in my memory.

        • I’ll take that bet, Bob. I’m bet you have 50 points on her, unless something has happened to you since last we met. In my experience, intelligent people don’t voluntarily present themselves to the public as utter dolts.

          Yes, Steele is also an idiot. Priebus doesn’t spout complete nonsense, however, and Terry McAuliffe is a crook, not an idiot. Ed Rendell never sounded like a fool, because he’s not one. Even Howard Dean, who is an extremist, never sounded stupid, like DWS and Steele.

          I don’t see anything in the party chair job that requires lies and foolishness. It’s advocacy, that’s all. Lawyer do it for a living; lots of people do, and do it well. People like the current Democratic chair, the past GOP one, and flacks like Stephanie Cutter make it look like the job of advocacy is incompatible with honesty and common sense.

      • No doubt in my mind, Jack. Put your director’s hat on, and both watch and listen to the exchange several times.

        DWS isn’t horrible on a prompter – noobs sometimes display faint eye movement and she doesn’t (though the does blink a lot). Listen to it carefully – you’ll hear some verbal “tells” as well – words that would flow well on paper, not so much spoken; in other places, halts in sentence clauses that should flow seamlessly.

        She was reading. I’m sure of it. And while it’s possible that she brought her own prompter and set it up in front of the lens (shots like this generally use robotically controlled cameras and staff in the room is limited to low-power producers and techs) – it’s highly unlikely. Dollars to donuts she was using MSNBC equipment to do so.

        • I would have to concur with this analysis. She didn’t sound like someone giving a verbal answer, which generally flows differently than, someone reading aloud (which is what this sounds like). Since a mess up on “misled” as “myzeld” generally indicates a *misreading*, I’d say that’s solidly supports the analysis.

        • Well, that’s despicable, if in fact MSNBC is staging interviews. Not surprising—I wouldn’t put that by them, but really horrendous. That’s a fraud on viewers, voters, everyone. So a news studio just offers up its services for Democrats to present canned talking points—that STILL make no sense—as if they were spontaneous reactions?

                • Yeah, she would say the same thing no matter what the interviewer said/asked. Ever notice she gives a lot of answers that don’t connect with the question?

                  She doesn’t need the questions in advance – to start with, it’s MSNBC… I think we could ALL guess what they would ask…

                  • I also got the impression she is reading off a teleprompter. I think the self-concious little smile/laugh a couple seconds later is her realization she flubbed the words and deciding to continue.

                    I didn’t study the video for signs – this was just my interpretation the first viewing.

        • The stumble over “misled” also seemed teleprompter-ish to me, not like she really didn’t know the word but wasn’t expecting it and stumbled over it. When I’m speaking and forming words in my head I may stutter or stammer but seldom just mispronounce a word. If I’m reading without adequate rehearsal that’s much more common, as some words look funny when written down.

      • Which is all well and good. “I can see Russia from my house!” Still makes me chuckle- it just infuriates me that people internalize comedic exaggerations to the point that they think it’s an accurate representation.

        • Please tell me you do know that Palin never actually said that, but Tina Fey did, playing Palin. Lots of people don’t know, and ABC included that quote on a list of stupid things politicians have said, as I pointed out somewhere. Ask a friend if Bush really used the word “strategery.” Same thing.

          • Rest easy, Jack. I mean the JOKE that was on SNL makes me laugh as parody, hence the second part where I said that it hacks me off when people forget that jokes are jokes.

            Oh, and I think he actually did say “misunderestimate,” but I kind of like it.

  4. I don’t like DWS, but I think this criticism is unfair. Teleprompter or not, she mangled the word, sure. But, listening to her talk, accent and all, I might have gotten tongue-tied trying to spit out what she was saying. Happened to Bush, too. He was mocked, but it was not the end of the world. Hell, it probably happens to most people who spend any significant amount of time speaking publicly. Speaking extemporaneously, you are bound to flub the pronunciation of a word here or there, screw up the number in your verb, end a sentence in a preposition, or find yourself mired in a dependent clause without any recollection about how you got there.
    But, that is why I try to speak slowly, enunciate, and think about the sentence I am putting together. Not a style conducive to a cable news segment.
    So, if this was an isolated incident (and I try to avoid listening to DWS, if at all possible, so I would not know if this a common mispronunciation for her), no big deal. It happens.
    And, yeah, it took me a long time to learn that chasm had a “k” sound. I still think the other way sounds better. I had read it, but never heard it.
    -Jut

    • You are an idiot! She had to have been reading a teleprompter. There are lots of ways to mispronounce “misled,” but “myzeld” is not one of them. That would only happen if you are reading something off a script and not really connecting the brain with the mouth.
      -Jut

      • You’re wrong about myzeld. That’s exactly how my sister did it, and that mispronunciation is common—before high school. I’m fsar from the only one who has flagged it and was familiar with the gaffe.

        • Wow! That is a new one to me. The only experience I have with this is when “misled” is spelled “mislead,” which, given that “lead” (the metal, not the verb) is spelled, well, l-e-a-d (kind of obvious when you read it), is far too common of a spelling error.
          -Jut

    • That wasn’t the tenor of the criticism. (Both Bushes were in fact wretched speakers, and there’s no excuse for it if politics is your profession…it’s like a cabbie being a lousy driver.) This knowledge, not style.

      You will note that criticisms #1 and #2 were on substance. And while it may be theoretically possible to be unfair to a repeat liar who shamelessly denies facts on TV, I can’t imagine how at the moment.

      • I see your point, but, on the other hand, you are forecasting the end of the world (or canary in a coal mine) by a simple mispronunciation. We are not talking comparative virtue. We are talking about mountains and molehills (things outside of virtue altogether).
        Not every issue is an ethical one. And, the verbal flubs of politicians, whom you might expect to be better presenters, do not necessarily a horrible or unethical leader make.
        -Jut

        • It’s not a flub. It is evidence of ignorance, arrogance, and the decreasing value given to proper speech.

          I’ll cop to hyperbole with the canary.

          Or as Debbie would say, “Hyper-Bowl.”

          • But on the other hand, I didn’t connect your “it’s not the end of the world” to my canary trope, so it was NOT in fact, the “It’s not the worst thing” rationalization as I accused you. I retract that; my apologies. You were implying that I had suggested that it WAS the end of the world. No, you’re right, it’s not.

            The end of the world is that dishonest, cynical, ideological liars are in the leadership of both political parties.

  5. I’ve never heard “myzeld” ever. I don’t like her, but I won’t condemn her for that — condemning on content is better. Even the best public speakers get tripped up here and there on easy words. It’s not like she said “libARY” — that’s the word that trips up most young kids.

  6. She mangled a word. Plenty of people in public office mangle words with relative impunity (take a listen to some of Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee’s eloquent remarks for amusement). Obnoxious, unethical and unprofessional, but not necessarily the end of the nation as we know it.

    More disturbing, however, is MSNBC host Chris Jansing setting up the question to Wasserman-Shultz with this foundation: ” . . . and that’s the President’s ‘Keep your Plan’ pledge/guaranty. I mean it has infuriated a lot of the 3% or so of Americans who actually can’t do that . . .” She also refers to it as a ‘guaranty’, not an unequivocal, unconditional declaration about the self-insured market. It is obvious that MSNBC has abandoned all pretense of objectivity and has become the Democrat equivalent of Pravda. The 3% remark set the tone for the Congresswoman’s talking-point remarks: :”Eh . . . what’s the big deal? Come on – it’s only has an impact on 3% of Americans. When you get right down to brass tacks, that’s not too many people. And besides, it was only a pledge, a guaranty. It’s not like it really matters because national health care is more important than a campaign slogan. All politicians have to make compromises and backtrack on their campaign slogans.”

    jvb

    • You know, 3% really isn’t that many. If the pitch from the beginning had been that while MOST people could keep plans, about 3% might have them cancelled, it still may have won people over. Sure, some would have thought it was too intrusive, but I can bet there’s a lot of people who would have been OK with pushing a few % out of their plans. It’s infuriating that the lie was told. It could have been swung with no more than the usual amount of politicizing and spin, but there was a deliberate lie. Why? Because they can. Promise free treats and demonize the opposition and a lapdog media will refuse to call you out on even blatant, arrogant, obvious lies.

        • Well… damn. Still, though, I think this had a chance to pass without any lies- and yet the lies were told. It’s like the year the Patriots were the most ridiculously over-skilled team in the NFL and were still stealing signals. Why? Because we can get away with it, that’s why, and winning honestly just isn’t as much fun.

  7. A misles is a term used for a word that in written form can often be mispronounced when a person reads it aloud. Misled is actually one of the words identified as a misles.

    I just looked that up. I had no idea what a misles was until about two minutes ago…and I’m sure I would pronounce it wrong if I were to say it.

  8. http://chronicle.com/blogs/linguafranca/2011/12/01/beware-the-misles/

    Sorry…the singular is misle and the plural is misles.

    I looked over the list of words that are most commonly mispronounced when read and then spoken aloud by native English speakers and I really can’t imagine making an error like that. There was one word….titleist….that I perhaps could make a very embarrassing error on…but that has a lot to do with me speaking German as I was growing up.

  9. Did she also say that shopping on the insurance exchanges should “arguably” be easier? Arguably? This woman is a living parody.

  10. Reality bites. I believe that she did not speak out of a ‘lack of knowledge’ or ‘education’. She purposely spoke that word in that context, because she did not want the statement to associate her directly with the terms ‘misled’ and ‘Obama’ at the same time. Very strategic. While everyone is focusing on her lack of education, the subject matter is lost and redirected. This administration is a master at this tactic and capitalizes on word play at every opportunity, during every conflict. Stay tuned.

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