There was a time, not so long ago, when President Obama's pronunciation of the word "Pakistan" delighted conservatives to no end. Obama, you see, tends to eschew the Americanized "Pack-is-tan" for "Pahk-is-tahn," which is the way Pakistanis actually say it. The National Review's Mark Steyn called such a pronunciation "ostentatiously exotic," while his colleague Kathryn Jean Lopez posted a reader e-mail noting that "no one in flyover country" speaks like that.
So we found it just a bit amusing ourselves when, at the Council on Foreign Relations yesterday, GOP darling Marco Rubio was pronouncing Pakistan in the same effete, elitist, martini-soaked way as Obama. Steyn and Lopez haven't seemed to notice yet, but it's not totally their fault, because Rubio's embrace of "Pahkistahn" is a relatively new development.
Here's Rubio in a May 2011 interview, using the "flyover state" pronunciation:
He's still talking like a real American in a September 2011 speech to Wingate University:
April 18 of this year appears to be the turning point. In a speech on the floor of the Senate, Rubio says Pakistan twice in the National Review—approved dialect. But the third time he says it, he slips — perhaps unintentionally — into Obama-ese:
Rubio must have liked how "Pahkistahn" sounded, because he used it exclusively during his big foreign policy speech at the Brookings Institution a week later:
And yesterday, before another bigwig audience at the Council of Foreign Relations, Rubio continued his use of "Pahkistahn":
The National Review is going to find this so hilarious we bet!