Word-Salad Politics


Who writes the adjectives and adverbs used by news readers?  For instance, when CNN’s David Schuster reads,  “First Lady, Laura Bush, graciously invited Mrs. Obama and the children to the White House…”  who decides to use the adverb, “graciously?”    Who decides Laura Bush’s reputation will survive her husband’s perfidy?

Who assigns folksy monikers to the powerful people who determine the policies by which the world collapses or thrives?  Who told us to think of  Bill Clinton as “Bubba”  and war mongers as “Condi,”  “W” and  “Hillary?”  Who decided that their policies would be more easily swallowed if we thought of the people behind them in folksy, friendly terms?

Who decided “Union” was a dirty word?  Who permeates the airwaves with worker-descriptors like  “greedy lobbyists?”    How did “bargaining for the rights of workers”  become  anti-American in the automaker bailout discussion?

When the CEOs of The Big Three showed up in Washington in their corporate jets,  who decided it was a “public relations nightmare”  rather than the latest example of a rapacious mindset incapable of seeing or understanding  the horrors faced by us, our neighbors and friends.

Harry Reid reacted angrily to “the public relations nightmare” because The Big Three’s arrogance made it impossible to pass a bailout without taxpayer, homeowner and Main Street protections.  The Congress was forced to delay the bailout  the same day it  gave Ted Stevens a standing ovation.

Who characterizes former Senator and felon, Ted Stevens as “the lion of the Senate”  and gives him a standing ovation as his talons slip from power?

Whose nightmare?

Who’s  teaching us to think in easily-digested terms?  Who wants us to ignore the wasted humans piling up along the roadside?  Who wants us thinking about White House puppies?

Who began calling families and children  “the foreclosed?”   And if we think of them as “foreclosed,”  are we tempted to think of them as having fallen into an abyss?  Does it wipe them from our national consciousness?  Where do they go?  Where do they live?  How do their children do in school?  Perhaps it doesn’t matter.  Perhaps they cease to exist for us once we’ve tagged and obscured  them with a derogatory, dismissive phrase.  (Which reminds me,  if your community doesn’t have a food or clothes bank or a  kitchen,  now’s the time to help  establish one.  People need food, diapers and winter clothes.)

Who  promulgated the now-accepted notion that Hillary is “enormously qualified to be  the next Secretary of State?”  On what basis?

Who’s providing texture for our perceptions and thereby,  guiding us to a few carefully-designed conclusions?

2 thoughts on “Word-Salad Politics

  1. Jack Hirschfeld

    Who? Why, “the usual suspects” of course. Can’t help wondering if, by repeatedly asking the question (an interesting rhetorical device), you aren’t trying to “guide us to a few carefully designed conclusions”.

    Here’s a who for you: Who has concluded that “the big three’s arrogance made it impossible to pass a bailout”, or that flying down to DC in luxury is “the latest example of a rapacious mindset incapable of seeing or understanding the horrors faced by us, our neighbors and friends”?

    The uses of language are many, and we all make daily decisions to use language in a way that protects us from seeing the other’s point of view. It’s true that we learn this from the culture, but the modern political uses of language to deceive people and reshape their reality dates back to the 30s, and since about 1936 there have been very, very few public pronouncements of any kind that have been free of this habit.

  2. lizbucar Post author

    I’m not so sure about the 30s being the line of demarcation. “Scapegoat” is a much older term than that.

    I was pointing out two extreme POVs that are drawn each day. “Either-or.” My question is, “Who decides which view finds its way to nearly every mainstream media broadcast and then into the mainstream consciousness and then into the realm of Truth?” Certainly there’s plenty of culpability. We see that in the repetitious, incremental nature of the creep. Even vigilant people succumb to “the sell.” For instance, I hear pro-Obama people reveling in the media’s adoration of him. I’m no less worried by that than I was by the media rolling over for Bush before the Iraq invasion.

    Not only am I choosing the questions, but I’m choosing the topic of discussion. There must be a dozen traps in that stew. My personal belief is that the vast majority of us are susceptible to having our fears tweaked and most of us can be led to cross ethical lines if that’s the personal & business culture we know. Why else have oversight?

    My further point is, that when time’s are tough and scapegoats are being raised, we need to ask where our impressions come from. Or do you think we don’t need those reminders?

    You’re absolutely right about the Harry Reid reference. It was “my” Truth and went over the line.

    We do have senses and interpretive faculties, though. If you saw the CSPAN coverage of the hearing, perhaps you saw some evidence of the CEOs’ deep commitment to their companies’ survival that I missed. They refused to share part of the bailout/loan with their struggling dealerships and really don’t understand the jets might be over-the-top. Your point’s well-taken. It’s easy to villanize the super-rich in this economy. Thanks as ever for writing, Jack.

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