Deeper into Jeopardy! II: Obama-Rama – $1000

Jeopardy! category: OBAMA-RAMA (21-01-2014)

$1000 clue: In 2008 Obama said, “I’m running for president because I want to tell them” these 3 words, his campaign slogan

Correct response (highlight to see): YES WE CAN

The gist: There may not be three other words that are more recognizable in 21st century American politics (maybe even global politics) than Obama’s “Yes we can.” It was slapped on posters (see below), made into a music video*, adopted by the pro-marijuana lobby (“Yes we cannabis”), and so on. The slogan is derived from that of Cesar Chavez, the founder of the United Farm Workers union, who used the equivalent Spanish phrase “Si se puede” (translated by the union as “yes, it can be done!”). In Obama’s “Yes we can” speech, in Nashua, New Hampshire, on January 8, 2008, after having narrowly lost the state to Hillary Clinton (in the popular vote – they both received nine delegates), he stated that “generations of Americans have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes we can.” The pithy statement worked well with the campaign’s other slogan, “Change we can believe in,” in that it was the call to action to make the changes in Washington that represented (back then, at least). Obama and his head speechwriter Jon Favreau (not the movie director of the same name) reportedly decided to recycle the phrase from his 2004 Illinois senate campaign just half an hour before he made his Nashua speech.

Obama campaign “Yes we can” poster with “rising sun” logo above.

The clue: This clue is set up to walk you right to the correct response, from giving you the speech’s lead-up that introduces the correct response as a phrase you’d tell someone, to the number of words in it, to the fact that it was his campaign slogan (although Wikipedia claims his “slogan” was “Change we can believe in,” with “Yes we can” being his “chant.” Not sure what the difference is, myself.) I doubt there are too many North Americans of age to appear on Jeopardy! that don’t remember the phrase. Even if it’s a somewhat easy $1000 clue, it closes the category nicely, just as the slogan itself summed up the spirit of the campaign.

In Jeopardy!: It’s tough to search the J!Archive for a phrase consisting of three extremely common words – searching for”yes we can” returns 284 clues, almost all of them having nothing to do with Obama. Ctrl-f’ing for “Obama,” “slogan,” “president,” and so forth pulls up one other clue that read simply “Yes we can,” and was looking for “Obama.” Not much of history there, then, but like yesterday’s clue, this one is likely to ripen with age and show up more often in the future.

* Not recommended.

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