8 Comments

  1. Well, first of all, obfuscate *doesn’t* mean bewilder. One
    obfuscates in order to bewilder. You obfuscate voters by draping
    them in camouflage or invisibility cloaks.

    But I think the joke was that the senator had his own tactics
    used against him. (Hoist by his own petard.)

  2. I’m with Arthur. You obfuscate an issue, not a voter (in this context anyway). Perhaps the cartoonist just couldn’t think of a suitably uncommon word for ‘bewilder’ and just went with obfuscate hoping no one would notice the incorrect usage. He could have gone with flummox, discombobulate or befuddle I suppose, but maybe those are too well-known to make the intended joke work.

  3. Bewilder is a secondary definition of obfuscate in the Oxford dictionary and the example phrase in the dictionary is “it is more likely to obfuscate people than enlighten them.”

    Make of that what you will…

  4. Wow. Apologies to the cartoonist. I take it all back. I guess I should have studied harder for my English SATs.

  5. …however, judging by the example sentence in the Oxford entry you pointed out Folly, I’d say that’s exactly where the cartoonist went as well. It’s virtually word for word. Plagiarist! My smug feeling of superiority and condemnation has returned.

  6. It’s just the irony of the senator expressing something that demonstrates the word he claims not to know the meaning of. … which is mildly amusing when it happens… and it evokes the idea that senators are doofuses (or liars, or corrupt, or dumb, or … whatever) and Shoe got the better of him (although if you analyze it, that’s nor really the case– in actuality the senator just be coincidence demonstrated a meaning).

    Of course it doesn’t really work. As pointed out, obfuscating isn’t primarily or really synonymous with bewilder. And claiming to be bewildered over not knowing a word really isn’t a natural or likely response. Not knowing a word doesn’t bewilder or perplex you. You don’t understand but you are confused; merely ignorant. So a more likely response would be “I’m sorry. I don’t know what obfuscate means.” (Although admittedly no politician will never admit not knowing things.)

  7. I scan the last panel of ‘Shoe’ before I read it to look for googly ‘surprise eyes.’ If they’re there, it’s invariably a wretch-fest and I don’t read the whole thing.

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