Lost in Translation: The Top 5 Misunderstood Phrases of the Second Presidential Debate


John Paraskevas/Newsday/MCT

Obama and Romney at the second presidential debate.

Sophie de Bruijn, Web Features Editor

65.6 million people watched the second presidential debate Tuesday night. But, with all the awkward introductions, finger pointing, and bold tie choices that took place throughout the night, it can be difficult to understand all the points the candidates were trying to make. Especially if the political jargon needs decoding.

So here are the top 5 most commonly misunderstood words and phrases used in the debate.

1. “The Middle Class”: Never has the definition of a class level been so broad. Romney infamously described middle income as “$200,000 to $250,000 and less.” Obama’s definition is similar, setting it as families with income of up to $250,000 a year. By these standards, nearly everyone in the country falls into the wide chasm that is the middle class. Middle class has become more of a state of mind than a strict economic standing, and with election day coming up, the candidates will do as much as they can to appeal to this newly vast demographic.

2. “Phantom Jobs”: Unfortunately, these phantoms have nothing to do with the premiere of Paranormal Activity 4. Rather, it is part of the Romney campaign skepticism over the number of jobs that have been created in the past four years. With different sources for facts and figures, it can be difficult to believe any jobs numbers are 100% accurate. But one thing is for sure. If you’re looking for a Halloween costume this year, you can always trick or treat as a phantom job!

3. “Top Down Economics”: No, despite the Obama administration relentlessly campaigning on the purported success of the auto bailout, this does not relate to an economy based on convertibles. AKA the “trickle-down theory,” top down economics is the idea that poorer members of society will benefit from tax breaks and economic benefits to the wealthy. Obama has accused Romney of supporting this theory, claiming that the approach “never works.”

4. “Binders Full of Women”: Unless Romney was referring to a secret aisle of Office Max that I’ve never been down, it’s unclear what he was going for with this one. This unfortunate phrase stemmed from a question about equity for women, and it certainly didn’t win him the support of any feminists, or office supply enthusiasts, for that matter. But, at least a great meme came out of it.

5. “Loopholes”: Obama resorted to teen colloquialisms when he called Romney’s tax plan, “sketchy,” based on Romney having yet to specify which loopholes he plans to close. Ryan also avoided disclosing the specifics at the Vice Presidential debate. But hey, who doesn’t like a little mystery? Especially when it comes to financial security! In the word’s of the newly youthful Obama, leaving some questions unanswered is “totally awesome.”