Tuesday, May 24, 2016

President Obama's "Please Proceed, Governor" Comment & How Similar Comments Are Used On Political Blogs

Edited by Azizi Powell

President Barack Obama's "Please proceed, Governor" comment to former Massachusetts Governor and then Republican presidential nominee during in their second national presidential televised debate on October 17, 2012 is one of my favorite debate watching moments.

In case you've forgotten that priceless moment and the exchange it was part of, here's what happened:
From My favorite moment of 2012: 'Please proceed, governor' By kos
2012/11/30 [with photographs]
"...President Barack Obama has just finished answering a question about Benghazi:
And the suggestion that anybody in my team, whether the Secretary of State, our U.N. Ambassador, anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we've lost four of our own, governor, is offensive. That's not what we do. That's not what I do as president, that's not what I do as Commander in Chief.

Candy Crowley kicks it back to Mitt Romney for a rebuttal "quickly."

ROMNEY: I -- I think interesting the president just said something which -- which is that on the day after the attack he went into the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror.
At this point, Romney turns to look at Obama. Obama nods and says, barely audibly since his mic is resting on his knee:

OBAMA: That's what I said.

Romney is still looking at Obama, and points to him accusingly.

The camera closes in on Romney's face as he first pauses for dramatic effect, then raises his eyebrows in mock, condescending, dickish disbelief, as though he's challenging his teenage sons.

Romney thinks he's scoring big points, and presses what he thinks is his advantage:
It was not a spontaneous demonstration, is that what you're saying?

At this point, Obama interrupts Romney.

OBAMA: Please proceed. Please proceed governor.

Obama nods as he says this, further encouraging Romney to continue this line of attack, and just before the camera cuts away from his face and back to Romney, the beginnings of a smile flicker on Obama's face:
Obama knows Romney is walking into a trap. His eyes lock on Romney's, challenging him to, yes, proceed. Romney, still looking at Obama, realizes that something is up and becomes notably suspicious. There's a brief pause as his confidence drains away, then Romney stumbles over the word "I" three times before he finally gets off his next line:

ROMNEY: I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.

Crowley has two competing thoughts here—between "he did in fact, sir, call it an act of terror," and "so let me [move on to the next topic]." It's a confusing mumbly mishmash, but she's engaged and unexpectedly buttressing the president's point. So Obama moves in for the kill:
OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy?

The crowd starts laughing, Romney is the butt of the joke.

CROWLEY: He -- he did call it an act of terror.

In that moment, the GOP fantasy that Benghazi would bring down Obama evaporated amidst mocking crowd laughter and applause, and Obama had decisively won the second (very critical) debate.

In fact, Romney was so thoroughly defeated on this issue, that he refused to use it as an attack line during the third debate, supposedly focused on foreign policy."
Here's a video of that interaction:
Romney's moment of panic

Claudeknee, Published on Oct 17, 2012

Check out the brief flash of panic that travels across his face when he realizes that his clever little plan has just backfired and made him look the fool. Choice!!

[to politely tell someone] to proceed

Three pertinent standard definitions for "proceed"
"1. To go forward or onward, especially after an interruption; continue: proceeded to his destination; paused to clear her throat, then proceeded.
2. To begin to carry on an action or a process: looked surprised, then proceeded to roar with laughter.
3. To move on in an orderly manner: Business proceeded as usual"

It appears that President Obama was the first person to publicly use what I am referring to as the vernacular meaning of the phrase "Please proceed".

Here are two reader submitted definitions for "please proceed, governor" from
Please proceed, Governor

When somebody thinks they're about to outsmart you and you encourage them to keep going, knowing you have a fact ready to completely humiliate them.

Mitt Romney: "You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terror... is that what you're saying?
Barack Obama: "Please proceed, Governor"
Romney humiliated by debate moderator

#go on #really #obama #romney #truthiness
by jcb82 October 19, 2012

"Please proceed governor

A phrase used when a person you're arguing against is about to say something really stupid and realizes it, but you want them to continue so that you can win the argument."....
by President of Vice January 09, 2014
[This comment includes another abbreviated transcript of that debate exchange.]

April 2016
""Please proceed, Governor" is the single best line in 21st century debate history thus far."

"Like handing him a rope so he could hang himself."

"Can you give me some context on this? I don't remember that line or why it was so great."

"Romney was talking about how Obama didn't say benghazi was a terrorist attack. Romney looks at Obama and Obama responds, please proceed Governor."

"It's become a side note but Obama's comments that started the whole exchange are criminally underrated. He perfectly exhibited anger and emotion at the beginning bringing up that the ambassador killed was someone he appointed and he was there to greet his casket and grieve with his family."

"It was semantics, arguing that Obama didn't call Benghazi "a terrorist act." He did use the phrase "an act of terror." After Obama said, "Please proceed, governor" graciously allowing Romney to dig himself into the hole further, Obama followed up with "Why yes I DID call it an act of terror - check the transcripts."
The moderator of the debate confirmed that the phrase "act of terror" was in Obama's speech from the Rose Garden on the attacks.

It made Romney lose his composure, and he was off beat for the remainder of the debate. And it was all everyone could talk about for days.

Since then, "Please proceed Governor" is a phrase used to indicate that your opponent is wrong, and you have evidence to refute their argument, but you'll permit them to complete their (wrong) argument without interruption until your turn to rebut.*
*Italics were added by me to highlight this sentence.

"In that case, he wasn't yet wrong. He hadn't said Obama never said that. His tone said it and he was implying it, but he hadn't said it. What Obama did was basically apply the Socratic Method. 'I know you're wrong but I don't have the ammo to prove it yet. Please keep talking and hang yourself.'"

"The reason it's remembered so fondly is it knocked Romney for six and left him stammering on national television. Kind of the equivalent of Christie did to Rubio before NH this year."*
*Christie - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and then a candidate for the 2014 Republican Presidential nomination

Rubio - Florida Senator Marco Rubio and then a candidate for 2014 Republican Presidential nomination

NH = refers to the New Hampshire Republican televised debate Feb 9, 2016

Here's a comment in about that debate's winners and losers from
[One of the] Winner[s] - "Chris Christie: He sure got his voice heard going after Rubio — which we'll recap below (see: LOSERS). The question, though, is did Christie help himself, or just hurt Rubio?"...

A number of commenters who posted to the discussion thread of the embedded video above also described President Obama's saying "Please proceed. Please proceed, governor" to setting a verbal trap. Here are two of those comments:
"Unsaid by Obama: "I set a trap and you sprung it gloriously!""

"Another person described President Obama's smile as being like in chess when you set the trap. "It's that wonderful moment when you have constructed some situation where you know that if your opponent will only fail to see through your plan and take the bait, it will lead to a series of inescapable moves that will give you both his rooks, his bishops, and his queen."

Editor's Note:
Based on my admittedly limited online research, it appears that the vernacular form of the phrase "please proceed" is usually directed toward an identified person or group - For example, "Please proceed, Governor" or "Please proceed, Republicans".

All of the examples of "please proceed, ___" that I'm featuring in this post are from political discussions. That's mostly because I found it difficult to search for non-political uses online, since the standard meaning of "please proceed" is still currently used. To complicate matters, the standard meaning of "please proceed" is also still used on political blogs, albeit sometimes sarcastically. For example, "Please Proceed...with the hand-wringing - a primary model predicts Trump beating Hillary and Bernie"
By maddrailin, 2016/02/26·

That said, here's a few of the political examples of the vernacular use of "please proceed, __" that I've found. The oldest dated examples are given first and the examples are numbered for referencing purposes only:

1. From 3/08/2013, Posted by Hal
...."if Obamacare is the most certain thing on Earth to fail, why are we not hearing this, or some facsimile of this [debate “please proceed, governor” moment]from Republicans and TEApublicans? Why not?...

If what they all say is true, Obamacare should be the presidency handed to the Republicans on a silver platter. It should ruin Democratic chances at holding the White House because it will kill jobs, people and the insurance industry.

But no.

Instead of sitting back smugly with a "please proceed, Mr. President" the do-nothing Republicans in congress are now threatening to shut down the government so Obamacare won't be funded when it comes time to open up the exchanges on October 1st. Not all of them, mind you, just the crazies who don't know or don't care what the last government shutdown did to their party at the polls.

And the reason is, you know, is that these people all know that after all the lies and obfuscation settles and Obamacare becomes America's newest love affair after Social Security and Medicare, this will seal the fate of Republicanism for a generation...

Please proceed, Republicans."

2. From "Please proceed, GOP" by Jed Lewison, 2013/05/06
...."Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said Monday that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put politics above security during the Sept. 11 attack last year on the U.S. post in Benghazi, Libya — this as lawmakers gear up for another hearing on Wednesday.
I think it was political rather than security. But what boggles my mind is 4½ months after the fact, Secretary Clinton still had the gall to come here and perpetuate things that we know is common knowledge are simply not true,” said Chaffetz, a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, on Fox News.

Ouch! She had the gall to be political, unlike Republicans such as Chaffetz who have been single-mindedly focused on getting to the bottom of what really happened in Benghazi and why it proves Democrats hate America and want to cover up the actions of the terrorists with whom they obviously sympathize. Yeah, it's a dumb attack—just ask Osama bin Laden what he thinks about it. And part of what makes it so dumb is that it's not just transparently political, it's also patently ineffective.

The crime, allegedly, is that the administration didn't immediately denounce the attacks as acts of terrorism. You know, just like Mitt Romney famously did in his second debate with President Barack Obama. Setting aside for a moment the fact that these guys are way too obsessed with what amounts to a semantic exercise, the fact was that President Obama did call it a terrorist act.

I mean, there's a reason Obama said "please proceed" when Romney began his ill-considered attack, and it wasn't that he was afraid of what Romney was going to say. As we all now know, Romney face-planted. Republicans thought Benghazi was Christmas in September, but as we saw on election day, they were wrong.

Of course, the fact that they nonetheless believe Benghazi will be the end of Hillary Clinton shows that they still haven't figured out why Obama encouraged Romney to proceed. And when four years from now it turns out that Benghazi didn't deliver 2016 to the GOP on a silver platter, odds are history will repeat itself. Instead of coming to grips with the fact that they've been on a misguided political witch hunt all along, they'll convince themselves that they've retroactively stumbled on the key to victory in 2020."

3. From
Daily Kos
September 23, 2013 ·
Please proceed, tea partiers.

Photo of Aircraft carrier
Photo caption
"No hurry guys. We’ll just hang out here for a little while. Nothing says “we support the troops” like giving them an I. O. U.”
DailyKos Com [hyperlink to
Quote from that diary:
...."Go on, Cruz. Go on, tea partiers. Go give your we-love-the-troops speeches to the troops, and explain to them why they're just gonna have to work without pay for a while because of your deep principles on how Obama is mean and you don't like him. That ought to be a real hoot."
Cruz - Texas Senator Ted Cruz and later a candidate for the 2014 Republican Presidential nomination

tee-partiers- term for a segment of Republican party

4. Republicans Would Rather Run Against Bernie Than Hillary | Please, Proceed...
submitted, March 2016 by zheega [March 2016]

ChessmasterrexNorth America
"The GOP hasn't a clue what they're dealing with..

"....because he's an awesome guy and would make a better president than Hillary or Trump. d(^ _^ )d"
Given those comments, my interpretation of this post title is that it was written by a supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders who believes that the Republican party thinks it would be better to run against Senator Sanders for President, but they are mistaken because the original poster and the commenters] believe that Sanders is a stronger candidate than Hillary of Donald Trump (businessman and current leading Republican Presidential nominee. The original poster and commenters therefore want their opponents (the Republican party) to please proceed with this strategy as they believe that the Democratics will win in the end..

5. From
Daily Kos
March 31, 2015 ·
Please proceed, Republicans.
"GOP presidential candidates get behind Indiana's license-to-discriminate law"

By Laura Clawson
Hyperlink to this diary-

6. From "The Power of Framing: The Debate Over Qualifications is Bernie Sanders' Gift to Hillary Clinton" by Spandan Chakrabarti April 7, 2016
Comments [April 2016]
Democratinny reply to Nancy the Artist
"I want to see Hillary mop the floor with Bernie during the NY debate. I have developed a very deep dislike of him and I did give him a chance in the beginning. He is nothing but an opportunist."

Nancy the Artist reply to Democratinny
"It seems she has the opportunity to give him enough rope to hang himself. This is also President Obama's skill set. It looks like she has already begun the process by elevating herself above his level of behavior."

Democratinny reply to Nancy the Artist
"Exactly. She will be savvy and classy, while Sanders will be sounding like an adolescent.
Maike Hudson Nancy the Artist • 2 months ago
Please proceed, Senator."
Hillary - former United States Secretary Of State [in President Obama's administration], former New York Senator (Democrat), and current candidate for 2014 Democratic Presidential nomination

Bernie - current Vermont Senator (formerly an Independent and now a Democrat), and current candidate for 2014 Democratic Presidential nomination

7. From Diary Comments
Fonsia May 23 [2016]· 04:49:33 PM
...."Fun fact: Trump said the other day that he wasn’t going to waste time on all that stupid organizing stuff. He said that Obama won by being a compelling personality and having big rallies, so that’s what Trump’s going to do.


Fonsia May 23 [2016]· 05:32:57 PM
"I know a lot of us here volunteered for Obama in ‘08. That was a well-oiled machine, organized to a fare-the-well.

Please proceed, Donald."

8. From
"On a talk show, Donald Trump said he would debate Bernie Sanders if Bernie Sanders paid him. Sanders JUMPED on this immediately, appearing desperate for a debate . . . any debate."...

Turns out Trump was joking and that just makes Bernie Sanders look like a fool....

dss May 26 [2016]· 11:23:11 AM
"Seemed like calling his bluff — in a “please proceed governor” kind of way."
Which candidate does "his bluff" refer to in this sentence? It probably depends on whether you are a supporter of Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders.

But another dailykos diary on the same subject* includes a tweet from CNN news that reads
"“Michael Briggs, a Sanders spokesman, said that [Jimmy] Kimmel [star of the nationally televised Jimmy Kimmel Live show ] allowed the Sanders campaign to submit a question to Trump to be asked during the taping -- so they asked about a potential debate.”.

The implication of that diary was that Sanders in this encounter because it shows that he is desperate for media attention. As a commenter khyber900 put in on May 26 · 01:53:46 PM ..."Bernie tried a gambit and got played by Trump."...

*"The strange saga of the Sanders-Trump debate that was, then wasn't" By kos; 2016/05/26 · 12:05

A NON-POLITICAL EXAMPLE (although this example is quoted from Facebook, it was posted in the discussion thread for the YouTube video of that second 2012 national Presidential debate when President Obama said "Please proceed, governor."

LeroyMorte, 2012
"Loved this comment by someone named Rebecca Barnes on FB: " I think that "Please proceed, Governor" should be the new catchphrase for whenever anyone makes a fool of oneself. You know, you go to sit down, miss the chair, fall on your ass -- kind of thing. From now on the correct response (by onlookers) to such embarrassing goofs should be, "Please proceed, Governor"."

I second it, lets turn it into a meme!"
And I guess they proceeded to do so - the 21st century standard way - online.

The content of this post is presented for cultural, etymological, and political purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to President Obama for his semantic skills and more. Thank all of those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publisher of the video that is embedded in this post.

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.


  1. Here are two examples of "Please proceed" from this June 15, 2016 dailykos article*

    AverySLC Jun 15 · 09:05:58 AM
    "I read that the Hispanics are going to love him. Apparently his unfavorable rating is 89% with them currently.

    Please proceed, dumbass."
    "Him" = presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump

    progressive2016 [in response to] AverySLC Jun 15 · 09:07:31 AM
    "We Democrats will be happy to take the Latino voters Republicans feel they don’t need to appeal to. Please proceed!"
    *That left leaning Democratic political forum recently the term it uses for posts from "diaries" to "articles".

  2. And here's another example of "Please proceed" from

    Iconoclast Six , June 15, 2016
    "At this rate, Reince Priebus will endorse Hillary soon.

    Please proceed, Il Douche."