Bush, Arroyo, Carrots, Sticks

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was in town yesterday to pay a visit to our neighbor at 16th and Penn NW (funny guy from Texas, you should meet him sometime). Now, much has been made of a supposedly offensive statement he made — “I am reminded of the great talent of the- of our Philippine-Americans when I eat dinner at the White House” — but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t meant to be an insult or insensitive quip about second-class citizens doing menial labor. He was referring to Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford, a US-naturalized Filipina and the first female White House Executive Chef.

Much, much more fascinating to me was this fuzzily generic statement on Filipino counterterrorism measures:

The President has been very strong in having a carrots-and-sticks approach — “sticks,” of course, say we’re not going to allow for people to terrorize our citizens; the “carrot” approach is that there’s peace available.

I took that to be a misunderstanding of what I thought was the accepted symbolism of “carrot-and-stick” — that of a carrot dangling from a stick held in front of a donkey to keep it moving forward — but it turns out that the definition of this phrase is part of an ongoing controversy: old references take “carrot and stick” to mean classic reward/punishment discipline, while the dangling “carrot on a stick” is actually a more recent metaphor with little direct relation to “carrot and stick.” So hey, Bush got it right. Sort of.

More on PGMA’s visit.