Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How many times will President Obama say "invest," "investing," or "investments" tonight?

23, by my count from this wrongfully obtained draft text.

The New York Times shows how many times "invest" and other words have been used in every State of the Union address from 1939 to last year — in this interactive graphic.

You can move your pointer over the graphs to see the specific numbers for each year. For instance, which speech had the most uses of "invest"? Clinton's in 1993 — 29 times! (I don't know if that includes "investment.")

Obama last year said "small business" far more than anyone else.

Two words were used much more often by George W. Bush than by anyone else: "terror" and "enemies."

Some of the Times' descriptions don't even seem supported by its own data. It says, "Historically, Democrats use [the word 'invest'] more than Republicans." But that's only accurate as to Obama and Clinton, not the other Democratic presidents. Republicans Ford, Reagan, and George H.W. Bush said "invest" more than Democrats Truman and LBJ. Another example: the Times says, "Compared with Mr. Bush, Mr. Obama has limited his use of the word ['Afghanistan']." But the only year when Bush said "Afghanistan" significantly more than Obama was 2002, just a few months after the war started.

The fact I found most significant: "recommend" was used frequently by Truman, Eisenhower, and LBJ, but it's rarely been used since Ford (aside from Clinton's first State of the Union, for some reason). The Times explains:

This term, redolent of civics-class advice and consent, has gone the way of the Edsel.
Apparently, American presidents used to aim for some degree of precision in describing the actual limitations of their power. How quaint.