Just when my creative juices were beginning to work on the appropriate Latin mottos for Barack Obama’s very own presidential seal, the Obama campaign gave up the whole idea. I originally proposed “Obamanum Credimus” (“We believe in Obama”). Deliberating a bit more on the subject, I thought “In Obamano Speramus” (“In Obama we trust”) would also do nicely.
Before the campaign settled on “Vero Possumus” (“Yes we can”) as the motto for the seal, we understand that it considered and rejected “Estne volumen in toga, an solum tibi libet me videre?” (“Is that a scroll in your toga, or are you just happy to see me?”).
Unfortunately, the media reaction to the presidential seal was more along the lines of “Fac me cocleario vomere!” (“Gag me with a spoon!”). Rather than face the ridicule, Obama stood down and assigned the staffers who dreamed up this project to meditate on the proposition “Si hoc signum legere potes, operis boni in rebus Latinis alacribus et fructuosis potiri potes!” (“If you can read this sign, you can get a good job in the fast-paced, high-paying world of Latin!”).
Despite the inherent humor of the episode, it seems to me extraordinarily revealing of Senator Obama. The Latin motto that springs to mind — to my mind anyway — is the familiar maxim “Caveat emptor” (“Let the buyer beware”).
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