Saturday, January 01, 2005

Wow - a seven-letter word!

Safire's Sunday On Language column notes that President Bush has learned a new word: "complex." Like a 4-year old with a new word, Bush has become infatuated with using it. For example, Secretary Rumsfeld's job is "complex," meaning that Rummy can't be blamed for anything that goes wrong. And the question of criticizing Putin's march to dictatorship is "complex," meaning that we need not apply our loudly proclaimed pro-democratic standards to him.
Deliberately dismissive rhetoric by Bush, of course, but I imagine that, for him, these really are previously unimagined "complexities." (He's learning and growing!) Rumsfeld isn't totally perfect? An ally, into whose "soul" Bush once proclaimed that he had looked, who isn't 100% good? Wow, that's pretty deep.
Safire reports that Bush still eschews the word "complicated," a bit mysteriously to Safire as he considers it synonomous with "complex." I would think that "complicated," to Bush, carries the unacceptable implication that concentrated thought and knowledge should play a role in decision-making, whereas the "complexity" of a situation just is. You must unravel complications, but can simply stare slack-jawed at complexity.


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