In hoc signo ridebis


Last night in “Fac me cocleario vomere!” I caught up with the news that Barack Obama has killed his very own presidential seal. Today Jim Geraghty devotes the NRO column “Mac vs. PC” to the seal. Geraghty speculates that “like Michael Dukakis riding in a tank or John Kerry declaring that he voted for war funding before he voted against it, we may have just witnessed one of those unexpected moments that, in retrospect, comes to define one of the candidate’s unflattering traits.”

Whether or not the unveiling of his very own seal comes to be seen as a defining moment, the seal is in fact revealing and what it reveals is, as Geraghty writes, unflattering. I appreciate the opportunity Geraghty’s column affords to bring Latin back to the discussion one more time. The Obama seal’s Latin motto is “Vero Possumum” (“Yes we can”). Several more appropriate mottos have occurred to me over the past few days. I have one additional proposed motto for the seal that works a variation on Obama’s messianic self-regard: “In hoc signo ridebis.” (“In this sign you will laugh”).

UPDATE: Thanks to reader Karen Barth for helping me improve my Latin grammar.

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