Monday, October 23, 2006

Same old bloody rubbish

I hate to call Bush French or something, but he certainly lives by the slogan: "Toujours l'audace."

He's up to an old trick today, denying that he ever said he wanted to "stay the course" in Iraq. Unfortunately, as Dan Froomkin points out in his Washington Post blog (which is hands-down superior to any print column that the Post regularly publishes), he actually did say "stay the course" repeatedly.

Word of clarification: by repeatedly I mean again and again and again and again.

Now it turns out that Bush, and by strange coincidence his aides, are out there denying in almost identical words that he ever said any such thing.

This brings back the nostalgia for me a bit, because I remember the Social Security debate. Recall that his plan, such as it was (since he disclosed it but declined to endorse it), for many years bore the label "privatization." I argued in my 2000 book, Making Sense of Social Security Reform, that this label was in fact a misnomer for a genre of proposal that in essence would lend people the money to make debt-financed purchases of government-selected stock and bond funds. But they called it privatization anyway, I think sincerely even if inaccurately, because this term had a positive valence in the conservative think tank circles where it spent a couple of decades gestating.

Once Bush was actually proposing it, this handlers started to focus-group the name "privatization," and found that it was a flop with the general public. So, as I discuss in what I considered one of the more amusing sections of my forthcoming book, the name marched ever onward from privatization to private accounts to personal accounts to personalization (this last one being too strained and ludicrous to catch on).

The amazing thing about this march of the fiscal language terms was how shamelessly and egregiously they would accuse anyone of bias who used a term that they had used last week but were no longer using this week.

We have always been at war with Eastasia, not Eurasia, or is it the other way around.

1 comment:

Allen Knutson said...

I was just thinking about this the other day. "The nuclear option" of ending filibusters was invented by Trent Lott, discussed gleefully by Republicans, disliked by Americans, and thereby became one of those bad words the mean Democrats shouldn't use.

It's kind of reminiscent of the retirement several decades ago of "imbecile" for the not-then-yet-baggage-laden "retarded". Sorry Republicans/imbeciles, it's the concept that's the difficulty, not the name.