Language is about communication and what language means is what it communicates to the audience. The media and spin-meisters want us to believe that Barack Obama’s “lipstick on a pig” phrase was an innocent slang phrase that meant nothing more than when John McCain had used the same expression in the past, or when Obama had too.
Nothing can be further from the truth. In the political weeks before the speech by Sarah Palin that resulted in her being nickname the “Lipstick Candidate,” whenever McCain or Obama used the “pig with lipstick” phrase it was said in passing, with no uproarious reaction from the audience.
However, immediately after the “Lipstick Candidate’s” convention speech, the Obama campaign began using the word “lipstick” in various allusions to Sarah Palin, the Republican’s female VP candidate. When Obama went over the line while criticizing the McCain campaign and threw out the slang phrase “lipstick on a pig,” the audience went wild. It was clear to these Democrat listeners that he was leveling the “lipstick on a pig” insult at Governor Sarah Palin. Because we cannot know what was in Obama’s heart, we give him the benefit of the doubt, while we condemn his disrespectful and sexist Virginia audience. We are disappointed that Barack Obama did not immediately tell his audience that they were misinterpreting his words in the “pig” phrase. He had an opportunity to chide his audience, and he did not.
The real problem is that Obama’s words caused his hundreds of Virginia supporters to ridicule a woman as a pig. That is a fact. It is a fact too, that many of his supporters, especially on the Internet, are now using Barack Obama’s exact words to continue to ridicule a woman as a pig. Here is a video of Obama’s original “Lipstick on a Pig” speech.