“Time horizon?” “Aspirational goal?” The Bush administration is at it again, dreaming up euphemistic phrases to describe its ever-changing policies in Iraq.
I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised at such befouling of the English language from a president who knows so little of it and yet is so cynical about its use.
These phrases recall Newspeak, the official language of the fictional country Oceania in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. In that language, compounds like doublethink and Oldspeak were coined to disparage usages that might lead to questioning of orthodox political views.
An Oldspeak expression, “All men are created equal,” could not be translated because it ran counter to Newspeak mantras like “freedom is slavery,” or “love is hate.”
It’s foolish, I suppose, to expect straight talk from any politician or administration. Yet this “Great Decider” and his merry band of spin doctors have gone too far.
How one yearns for the days of Harry Truman, who knew just where the buck stopped and when to get out of the kitchen.
Robert F. Willson Jr.
Emeritus Professor of English, UMKC