Pattern: There’s X and Then There’s X

Politicians. Can’t live with ’em and can’t live without ’em.

They’re the people we love to hate.

President Obama recently made a statement in defense of Hillary Clinton’s email scandal in which she transferred top-secret, government data to her personal, non-secure email server in her home.

Here is his statement:

The highlighted sentence doesn’t seem to make any sense, does it? Of course, classified is classified. This is obvious, isn’t it? Well,…no. Obama is trying to hedge the definition of “classified” to defend Hillary Clinton. He’s saying:

There’s classified (rising tone) and then there’s classified (falling tone).

By saying the word “classified” differently, he’s implying there are two kinds of “classified”. One kind of classified document is NOT okay to leak (this is the falling tone). One kind of classified document IS OKAY to leak (this is the rising tone). So what he is IMPLYING is that Hillary Clinton leaked the “good” kind of classified documents that ARE OKAY to leak, so her sin was only a small one, easily forgivable. So basically, she did nothing wrong.

Problem solved.

How does one distinguish between the “rising tone” classified document and the “falling tone” classified document?

Well,… only Obama and Clinton are qualified to do that…


We use this pattern anytime we are trying to get out of a tight spot. Welllllll, Mom, there’s forbidden and then there’s forbidden. I figured you meant the first kind of forbidden, which was “kinda” okay to ignore.


Another common sentence pattern, used a little satirically or tongue-in-cheek:

Women. Can’t live with ’em and can’t live without ’em.

Men. Can’t live with ’em and can’t live without ’em.

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