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What does "foreclose a lot of the avenues" in this sentence really mean: "I say that recognising the politics in this town foreclose a lot of the avenues just now."

The full sentence is: "It is in our power to do something about it. I say that recognising the politics in this town foreclose a lot of the avenues just now. But it would be wrong for us not to acknowledge it," he [Obama] said.

  • I suspect the punctuation in the original is a little different. Is this a transcription you made of audio, or a copy of someone else's transcript? – Nathan Tuggy Jun 22 '15 at 20:43
  • It's verbatim from an article in the Economist. – augustzf Jun 22 '15 at 20:48
  • A longer version of the quote on the Washington Post contains a clear omission ("going to important"), I suspect something else may be missing here too : "I say that recognizing the politics in this town foreclose a lot of those avenues right now. But it'd be wrong for us not to acknowledge it, and at some point, it's going to important for the American to come to grips with it and for us to be able to shift how we think about the issue of gun violence collectively." – JMB Jun 22 '15 at 21:28
  • foreclose = removes when I read this - garnered from context as I've not seen foreclose used in this way before. – Michael Dorgan Jun 22 '15 at 22:07
  • @JMB Seems to be a bad transcription, if you watch the video. In the following the () parts were clearly spoken by him, but left out of the text - "But I don't need (to be) constrained about the emotions that tragedies like this raise." and "it's going to (be) important for the American (people) to come to grips with it." – user3169 Jun 22 '15 at 22:11
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"Foreclose" is mean in the sense of "rule out or prevent (a course of action)."

"Avenue" is meant figuratively, in "a way of approaching a problem or making progress toward something."

So, together, "foreclose a lot of the avenues" means "to rule out a lot of ways of approaching a problem".

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In the video of the speech Full text: Obama’s remarks on fatal shooting in Charleston, S.C. he clearly says "foreclose", though I don't think it was the best choice. However there is a definition of foreclose:

4) to hinder or prevent

which would be a reasonable interpretation.

"And it is in our power to do something about it. I say that recognizing the politics in this town foreclose a lot of those avenues right now. But it'd be wrong for us not to acknowledge it, and at some point, it's going to important for the American to come to grips with it and for us to be able to shift how we think about the issue of gun violence collectively."

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