23rd April 2016
The contention is being (seriously) made that President Obama’s use of “back of the queue” in a speech about Brexit shows that the phrase was inserted by his UK hosts. This contention rests on “queue” not being a word Americans use. They use the word “line” instead.
Politicians, like all of us, tend to use rhetorical staples. And a quick search of Obama’s public statements over the last few years shows that “back of the line” is indeed one of his rhetorical staples. He seems to have used it nine times since 2013.
And not only has he used it in formal speeches, but in unscripted press conferences. It is a phrase he readily uses, and if you look at the examples, he uses it to make similar points to the one being advanced in his Brexit comments.
So all that needs to be explained is not the insertion of the phrase, but a switch of a word.
It is a word he is recorded as using anyway. The word switch may well be his own, or from his advisors or script writers. Who knows.
But all that needs any special explanation is the word, and not the phrase.
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