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July 27, 2008

Doublespeak from the Decider

“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



Surely no one would wish to emulate Obama's pathetic performance on the Iraq question. He tries to deny the effectiveness of the surge and talks about withdrawals. But he is careful to leave his avenue of retreat open so that whatever happens he can claim he anticipated it. You can never be sure just where he stands. This may be all to the best. Perhaps as a typical white person I can look pore ward to driving a car, keeping my house comfortable and having enough to eat despite his warnings to the contrary, But then again maybe I am doomed to bitterly cling to my guns while watching The Obama and his Congressional Robbing Hoods merrily despoil my investments.


"... Texan George Bush ..."

He's from Connecticut. The Bush family home (compound) is in Maine.

Carpetbagging only brought Dubya to Texas for a little while. He's a Connecticut Yankee.


Robert F. Willson, Emeritus Professor of English, UMKC ----The good professor trashes Texan George Bush for his befouling of the English language then admires and yearns for the days of (homespun) Harry Truman, who knew just where the buck stopped and when to get out of the kitchen. ----- I’ll bet the professor’s “ENGLISH" indoctrination produced more Liberal political neophytes than conservative columnists.
You chose the wrong icon for your message professor. The new milk-toast Democratic Party shows no relationship to the Gutsy little guy from Independence! Today Truman would have been conservative enough to edge out John McCain for the presidency.
Missouri democrats won’t be offering too many caliber Politicians in the near future. Senator “cut and run clone” Claire McCaskill is living proof!


That's a cute diversion, Gary, but it just shows that you know Robert is right. There's no such thing as a "time horizon," in physics or anywhere else. It's a pathetic attempt to have a timetable without saying timetable.

Even McCain couldn't be trained to make the switch. This weekend, he said "anything is a good timetable" several times, and only once caught himself, saying "...timetable, uh..horizon."

If McCain and Bush are going to continue to adopt Obama's policies, at least they could just come out and admit it.


OK, Prof. Wilson, what about this one: "We are the ones we have been waiting for?" Newspeak or divinely imparted wisdom?

The Prof's linguistic expertise is being overwhelmed by his political partisanship.


Prof. stick to teaching English and stay the hell out of foreign policy. We all know you believe in retreat and defeat, just preach to those youngsters in your class room who will swallow that horse hockey. The only people who will buy it here are those staunch members of the whackdom.


Bush, McCain, et al can't say "timeline" without heavily modifying it. If they say it straight up, they become endorsers of Obama.

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