Monday, April 18, 2011

President's oh so fine use of language: Double-Plus Ungood

The president got tough on deficit reduction saying that he would include a fail-safe mechanism in the budget so that if the deficit reduction targets were not met there would come, automatically, "further spending reductions through the tax code."

Good Grief! As Jon Stewart remarked that Orwell was owed some royalties.

But those payments to Orwell have been piling up for some time. This tendentious use of language has been a staple of Obama's discourse. The way the question of summits with Iran went from a pledge to "negotiate without preconditions" to "negotiations with preparations which would naturally include reaching certain understandings about what would be accomplished and what would be open for discussion which, if not reached, would, naturally, result in the need for further preparations that would necessarily postpone and..." blah, blah, blah....And let's not forget "kinetic military action," which some people might call a war.

No politician is entirely innocent of this sort of "terminological inexactitude," to use Churchill's phrase, when put in a tight spot, but it seems to me that Obama has made such quibbling the heart of his policy discourse rather than an occasional expedient.

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