Obama’s Honeyed Voice: Beware of People Traps

Tom Friedman on NBCs Meet the Press Sunday December 25 said,

He's so articulate...Oops!

When the story is speaking to you, shut up and listen. And I think Newt’s rise is speaking to us.

And what it says to me is, is that I think there’s a lot of Republicans who are starved for a

candidate for their party who would be able to debate Obama head-to-head, they think is as

smart and mellifluous as the president…


Mellifluous?  Must have aced the SAT vocab component.  Let’s have a look at the word itself:

From Merriam Webster on line.

Definition of MELLIFLUOUS

: having a smooth rich flow <a mellifluous voice>
: filled with something (as honey) that sweetens
mel·lif·lu·ous·ly adverb
mel·lif·lu·ous·ness noun

smart and mellifluous as the president(it = Newt’s ascendancy)

Being on his high school debate team would have helped.

As for the first definition, “corpseman” and other GWB “nucular” style gaffes give the laugh  to that one.  Just search “Obama” and “Uh,”  “Er”  and “Um” for a sample of his teleprompter free incoherence, or if you doubt these amusingly edited videos,  take in his next press conference.



The second definition reflects the word’s Etymology.

early 15c., “sweet, pleasing” (of an odor, a style of speaking or writing, etc.), from L.L. mellifluous “flowing with (or as if with) honey,” from L. mel (gen. mellis) “honey” (related to Gk. meli “honey;” see Melissa) + -fluus “flowing,” from fluere “to flow” (see fluent).
Honey is nice on bread,  but in literary use it can be a watch word for deception.  A seducer uses honeyed words.

Consider the scene in Shakespeare’s “Richard the Third” in which Lady Anne speaks of her enslavement to the royal traducer, whom she had come to love even though he  killed her husband and father-in-law.

Lo, ere I can repeat this curse again, within so small a time, my woman’s heart grossly grew captive to his honey words and proved

the   subject of mine                                                                   own soul’s curse(IV,i)


In 2008, the electorate was willingly seduced.  The President told us what we wanted to hear: We were the ones we had been waiting for; we could have whatever we wanted; we would not have to pay.  Obama is only the foremost of those speaking in the honeyed phrases we so love, the words that we think will protect us from the harshness of life, relieve us of the burdens we shirk, and chase away the darkness.

If we listen once more,and fall into the honey trap again, we may never escape.

Beware of the people traps.
(There are many honeyed words.)
Beware of the people traps,
Beware of the people traps.
(There is so much misinformation.)
Watch out, watch out, watch out, watch out.

– Shonen Knife, “People Traps”


One thought on “Obama’s Honeyed Voice: Beware of People Traps

  1. “Ah…er…um… We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” Wait, what ?!?

    We are the generation that was had. Had by the political pranksters and musical pipers. The not-so-subtle message being that we were some sort of junior outlaws and could prove it by smoking pot. So there. Is it any wonder that when someone tells us how wonderful we are we roll over to have our tummy scratched? All together, let’s laugh at honor, loyalty, dignity, and sacrifice. Maybe if I think the USA is worse than you think the USA is then I can be cooler than you. After all, tribe, isn’t that what we were all about in those days?

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