The Slatest

Please Don’t Describe Obama’s Vegas Immigration Speech as “Doubling Down”

A blackjack table. Looks like the middle player doubled down.

Joe Raedle/Getty



  • Many writers will be tempted to say that Obama is “doubling down” on his immigration plan when he speaks about it in Las Vegas.

Another fact, though:

  • You don’t “double down” in blackjack when you have questionable cards. You double down—which is to say, the dealer lets you double your bet in exchange for your agreement to only take one more card—when you’re the most certain you have a winning hand. “Doubling down” in blackjack doesn’t mean “taking a big risk even when other people are telling you not to.”

An opinion:

  • In punditry, sounding savvy, cutting-edge, and with it is often rewarded more than being right. Hence “double down.” Hence the terms “triangulation” and “triangulator” to describe concepts that are also conveyed by the old-fashioned words “compromise” and “moderate.” And after a term is used enough times, even people who realize it’s being used incorrectly or unnecessarily tend to just give up and go with the flow and use it that way too.


  • The objections of picky language-whiners will be irrelevant, and uses of “double down” will fill America’s headlines and news stories this weekend like so many chips filling the hands of a Las Vegas blackjack winner who has smartly doubled down on promising cards.

Thus is our language—nay, our very being, because what sets humankind apart from the beasts of forest and field if not language?—debased.