"With all deliberate haste (speed)"?

Pres. elect Obama’s announcement about when he would select his cabinet, according to cnn.com, was: “There is no doubt that people want to know who is going to make up our team,” he said “I want to move with all deliberate haste, but I want to emphasize deliberate as well as haste.”

Isn’t the phrase “with all deliberate speed” significant in civil rights history? Not sure I remember accurately, but I think some court ordered that racial segregation be remedied “with all deliberate speed” which was widely understood to mean the court would not hurry local authorities into this, or, with a wink, local authorities don’t have to do anything, not just yet anyway. And so “with all deliberate speed” because some kind of code for “some day, but not yet”.

Not that I have any suggestion of what to make of it - just wondering if anybody else noticed the similarity and perhaps loading of the phrase.


I am not a legal or historical scholoar but I’m not sure it’s clear the courts were exactly winking, but they were deliberately vague. I can’t say I understand their motivation for being so.

ETA: In Obama’s case I think he was just using a phrase he’s probably heard many times before without any intentional allusion to the original case. His intention seems to be similar to “cautious optimism” and other such hedging oxymorons.

Here is a cite for that part.

Haste has always been a synonym for speed for me though. I think Obama simply meant the wanted things to go as quickly as they could while being very careful not to make any mistakes.

I think he didn’t want to open himself up to criticism that haste makes waste.

I noticed that too. I think Obama is making a conscious effort not to pepper his speech with phrases that have become cliched (like “conscious effort” and “peppered his speech”). He’s trying to keep us on our toes. :wink:

Exactly. Or as John Wooden used to tell his players, “Be quick, but don’t hurry.”

All due haste is the more usual term.