The Meaning of "Period"

Frequently, in selling Obamacare, President Obama and Administration officials said that if you like your health insurance you can keep it, period.

Suddenly, as of yesterday they are arguing that there were actually all sorts of implicit asterisks to this promise.  The exact meme is still evolving retroactively, but the favored excuse is to say that of course this promise only applied to "real" insurance, "real" being defined as having the features the President thinks the policy should have  (this despite the fact that the promise very clearly defines insurance suitability based on the customer's, not the President's, preferences -- he said if you like your insurance, not if I like your insurance).

But what strikes me is the word "period."  This word adds no extra detail to the promise.  The only point to including it is to emphasize that this is the entirety of the promise, without any additional disclaimers or elaborations necessary.   By saying "period", Obama was saying that there were no asterisks, no hidden small print.


  1. Maddog:

    By policy the Big O meant that sheaf of papers in your file with all the magic legal words on it. You really didn't think he meant the insurance coverage itself, did you? That would be crazy talk. No, you can keep that sheaf of papers for as long as you like.


  2. a_random_guy:

    Politicians lie, news at 11:00.

    Obama lies more than most, or at least managed to get caught more than most. Despite this, he still has a 42% approval rating. That would, probably not coincidentally, pretty much correspond to the proportion of the population that pays no income taxes.

  3. Tricky Dickie:

    Every day as more and more of this crap flows out of the White House, you have to admire what a stand up guy President Jerry Ford was.

  4. ap:

    Your were able to keep your insurance for the period until Obamacare takes effect. I know, it's lame. It's a lame administration.

  5. Methinks1776:

    The meaning of "period"?

    If you play a game of word association with the Brilliant Orator in Chief and you said "period", he'd come back with "menstrual cycle!".

    Therein lies one of countless problems.

  6. Rick C:

    " the favored excuse is to say that of course this promise only applied to "real" insurance"

    Ahh, the No True Scotsman fallacy.

  7. Rick C:

    Ugh, Disqus hosed my link. Here it is in text form:‎

  8. Phil_in_Englewood:

    It all depends on what the meaning of "you" is. In this case, "you" means "I", as in "If I like your insurance, you can keep it." It was all explained very clearly in Alice in Wonderland:

    "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose
    it to mean -- neither more nor less."
    "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
    "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - - that's all."

    Remember, rubes, who is the master. After all, he was elected twice.