Perhaps related to Unspeak, and an example of it, is the phenomenon of Misspeak. Increasingly, we hear politicians who are caught out in deceptions, fantasies or bullshit say, in answer, simply: “I misspoke”. Thus John Mccain, on how he could have imagined that Iran was arming “Al Qaeda”:
I just simply misspoke when I said Al-Qaeda.
And Hillary Clinton was forced to admit that she was not actually being shot at by snipers when she landed in Bosnia in 1996:
So I misspoke.
It is useful, to say one “misspoke”. You acknowledge that what you said was absolute balls, but the fault is not your own, as it would be if you had lied or been wrong. No, the fault is somehow in the faculty of speech itself, something going wrong in the course of that complex magic between brain, lip and others’ ears. Lying (if that’s what it is) is Unspoken as a brief blip of dysphasia. Here‘s an illuminating elaboration of what is being claimed:
Adrianne Marsh, spokeswoman for Sen. Claire McCaskill, has told several news organizations her boss “misspoke” Wednesday when she said Sen. Barack Obama was the first black figure “to come to the American people not as a victim but as a leader.”
McCaskill made the comments at a Kansas City news conference, and were first reported by The Kansas City Star and Prime Buzz.
“This is a classic case where Claire simply misspoke,” Marsh said in a prepared statement. “She’s sorry it came out wrong.”
It came out wrong ! And so the question of whether it was wrong when it was still in is handily sidestepped.
Are there no situations in which it might be reasonable to say one misspoke? We all experience flubs and brainfarts, by way of which what we speak is not what we intended. But it’s a little harder to take “I misspoke” as a credible excuse for things said as prepared remarks, or during a press conference about a situation so basic (as with Iran and “Al Qaeda”) that one is entitled to suspect the claimed Misspeak was Unspeak all along.
Did you hear me say that politicians are, to a man and woman, all a bunch of drug-addicts, thieves, child-molesters and members of “high-class prostitution rings” who lie all day and then the next day lie about having lied? Ah, I misspoke.