The Corner


President Obama announced that the messy rollout of Obamacare is “unacceptable.” Like “game-changer” used in conjunction to threats in Syria and Iran, “unacceptable” does not necessarily mean something will stop. Instead, we should understand the president’s definition of “unacceptable” in its narrowest meaning of “unpleasant” rather than more expansively as an assertion that something will not continue to occur.

In February 2011, Obama characterized the violence in Libya as “unacceptable.” In March 2012, he warned Iran that it would be “unacceptable” for it obtain nuclear weapons, adding “I don’t bluff.” In September 2012, Obama warned that the violence in North Africa that supposedly followed the release of an anti-Muslim video was “unacceptable.” In December 2012, Obama warned that if Syria used WMD it would be “totally unacceptable” (as opposed to just “unacceptable”). The same month he warned Mohamed Morsi in Egypt that ongoing violence is “unacceptable”. In May 2013 Obama warned that it would be “just simply unacceptable” if the IRS in partisan fashion had gone after particular groups.

Given past usage, when he says “unacceptable” I think the president means that the health-care fiasco is kind of bad right now, but not so bad that as commander-in-chief he will ensure the problem is rectified.


Victor Davis Hanson — NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.

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