'Firefighter' the new 'matross,' presidential word watcher shows
Do you vaguely sense themes in presidential speeches, but don't have time to catalog the transcripts and index each word? It's not a problem, because Chirag Mehta does.
In the geektastic Presidential Tag Cloud on his blog, chir.ag, Mehta uses a simple scroll bar to let visitors track speeches from the earliest presidential talks of the Founding Fathers to George W. Bush's addresses, with the most popular words appearing larger than the others.
Several themes begin to emerge, some to be expected, others less so. Adams, Jefferson and Washington, for instance, punctuated their presidential addresses with words like "assembly," "constitution," "delegates," "fundamental" and "rebellion."
Lincoln peppered his phrasings with "constitution," "emancipation" and even "insurgent." In fact, every war-time president gets into the military act. World War I commander-in-chief Woodrow Wilson discussed cruisers, battleships and destroyers, while FDR was partial to "democratic" and "dictator." Peacetime presidents, from Rutherford B. Hayes to Bill Clinton, lean on similar domestic-agenda talking points like appropriation, currency, unemployment, deficit, crime and welfare.
But who knew the dominant phrase in Lyndon Johnson's Great Society speech was "classroom"? Or that after "deficit" the first Bush overused "love" and "breeze"?
Of course, you don't need to be a history major or even an American to know that "terrorist" is George W.'s buzzword of choice.