“Let me Be Clear” — Again and Again and Again

President Barack Obama has been saying “Let me be clear” since the onset of his presidency. And news outlets keep reinventing the story over and again.

The Nation first touched on the phrase in a short piece in July 2009, nearly six months after Obama took his oath of office, in a story headlined “Let me be clear.” Obama’s catch phrase was described as the telling line when Obama is on the “brink of some absurdity.”

The story arose again — this time in more depth and with an array of examples in August 2009 in Politico in “Dissecting President Obama’s favorite phrase.” In this piece the phrase had become a “full on rhetorical signature” and possibly, a “verbal tic.” The story says other presidents such as Clinton and Reagan used the phrased, only not as much.

The story popped up again in October 2009 on AOL News. Headline: “It’s clear: Obama has phrases.” And again that same month on ABC News.

In today’s Sunday edition, WaPo recreated the story once again, just in time for predicting what phrase will be said in Obama’s upcoming State of the Union speech. The headline, to be clear because it wasn’t the last four times, “In Obama’s speeches, one phrase: ‘Let me be clear.'” The story explains, “All politicians have their verbal tics,” and calls this one Obama’s “security blanket.”