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The passage below is from We’ve Got People by Ryan Grim.


In 2004, Democrats preferred Howard Dean, but believed the military man, John Kerry, would be the smart pick to take on Bush in wartime. Like most strategic calculations made by Democratic primary voters, it was harebrained. The one risk primary voters took was going with their hearts and nominating Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton, perceived by the Democratic electorate to be electable, was everything but.


Actually I have two questions on this passage. (I know I have to ask one question per thread, but the sentences are right next to another. So I ask for your concession.)


Fisrst and hardest, the meaning of ‘everything but’. Above all, I think the omitted word that needs filling out after ‘everything but’ is ‘electable’. Am I right? If I’m right, the last sentence means that Hillary Clinton was not deemed electable by the voters. Am I right again? (I hope so.)


Second and trivial, but still puzzling, in the last but one sentence, I don’t understand why voters decision to support Barack Obama could be a risk. (This is not a question about the structure of English. So I think I’m OK if you skip this one.)


Thanks a lot.

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cat scarf 276If I’m right, the last sentence means that Hillary Clinton was not deemed electable by the voters.

Correct. "everything but" = "everything except". Clinton was thus "completely unelectable".

Here are a few more sentences that end in "everything but" for you to practice on. I thought the last one was pretty funny.

Time for the Rangers to become relevant, after 50 years of being everything but.
Despite the controversy, this German team was compelling, and England everything but.
Phones, it seems, help us do everything but.

cat scarf 276I don’t understand why voters decision to support Barack Obama could be a risk.

That's easy to explain, especially if you oversimplify it, which I am about to do.

Obama is black. The United States is racist.

To elaborate a little:

The Democrats risked losing the national election by nominating a black man as their candidate when the Republicans would certainly nominate a white man to represent their party.

CJ

Comments  

That "everything but" is an often-used informal jocular construction. It means everything but the thing just mentioned, in this case, as you say, "electable". Supporting Barack Obama was seen to be a risk because he was black, and nobody knew that the US was ready to elect a black president. We are talking about the Democrats who voted in the primaries taking the risk, remember, and not the American public. The Democrats risked losing the election in November because of imagined racism in the general public.

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 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.

Thanks a lot as always, Califjim.

(Somehow I (stenka) happen to write this post as alias ID, I try to correct it only to fail.)

Ah. Stenka! Nice to see you here today.

CJ

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