Michael Medved

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What 
is all this about "have my back?"  It seems the phrase is everywhere, including where it shouldn't be. President Obama uses it to plead for donations, and Rick Perry considered it a request for his presidential bid.

And now it's Michelle Obama's turn, in a "poor baby" email describing her husband's sleepless nights as he responds to your letters and works so hard for you, and oh, needs your money--why? To "have his back."

Many who had his back in 2008 are now ready to give his back back.

Why is it that educated people insist on resorting to ridiculous slang?  Answer: to seem hip. To seem cool.  Have my back. Please.

Let's look at this a moment. On the day of the 2010 elections, the President told Chicago TV: "You can make a difference today and how well I'm able to move my agenda forward over the next couple of years is gonna depend in part on folks back home having my back."

The erudite pronouncement of a law professor.

In January, just before the Iowa caucuses, Gov. Rick Perry told audiences in Sioux City,  "If you have my back tomorrow at the caucuses, I'll have your back for the next four years in Washington, D.C."  Not that he'll work diligently on the serious issues confronting our nation and the world; he's more interested in back story. Apparently Iowans had little interest in Gov. Perry, forward or backward. He earned 10% of the vote.

And this week, in an email signed "Michelle," the First Lady asks for a donation of a mere "$3 or more" to repay our President for his ceaseless, selfless devotion to you.  "Every night in the White House, I see Barack up late poring over briefings, reading your letters and writing notes to people he's met.  He's doing that for you--working hard every day to make sure we can finish what we all started together."

Then the clincher: "This week, I need you to have his back."

The phrase, I thought, means to watch behind him to guard against a threat.  I think people intend the term "back me up." Like in the old cop TV shows, where they're always calling for back-up. (Not "backin' up," as in the internet meme.) Michelle wants you to back up her husband so after November he can get back up for another four years. Or maybe he's just begging, "take me back," given his deficit expansion, soon-to-be rejected Obamacare and failure to make the nation group hug.

A very hard rock Australian group has addressed the issue appropriately. In what I consider a hilarious series of hoarse shouts, the group Carpathian offers lyrics that begin, "I want to know who's for real. All this talk of having my back has been overdone. I have no compassion for this f---ing trend." They end two-and-a-half minutes of throat-scraping with the scream, "Don't! Have! My! BAAAAACK!"  

Not to disappoint the Aussies, but "have my back" is everywhere. Often used incorrectly.  And if I'm wrong, you can get back to me.

Michael Medved

Michael Medved's daily syndicated radio talk show reaches one of the largest national audiences every weekday between 3 and 6 PM, Eastern Time. Michael Medved is the author of eleven books, including the bestsellers What Really Happened to the Class of '65?, Hollywood vs. America, Right Turns, The Ten Big Lies About America and 5 Big Lies About American Business
 
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