The Euphemism Presidency

posted at 3:30 pm on April 7, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Jonah Goldberg skewers the new administration for its attempt to roll back the nomenclature of the Bush era, one euphemism at a time.  At times, it seems as though the word change substitutes for actual policy change.  Doesn’t the government have higher priorities than acting as a Roget’s Thesaurus for bureaucrats?

He has put rhetorical innovation on an equal footing with policy innovation. Exhibit A: “Overseas contingency operations.” That’s the Obama administration’s term of choice to replace “the long war” or “the global war on terror.” No doubt they were inspired by the famous Leo Tolstoy novel, Overseas Contingency Operations and Cessation of Overseas Contingency Operations, later dumbed-down by the publisher to War and Peace.

Janet Napolitano, head of Obama’s Department of Homeland Security — primarily created to deal with terrorist attacks in the wake of 9/11 — has decided “terrorist attack” is too hard-edged. It’s “man-caused disasters” now. “That is perhaps only a nuance,” Napolitano explained to a German newsmagazine, “but it demonstrates that we want to move away from the politics of fear toward a policy of being prepared for all risks that can occur.”

Meanwhile, the White House has announced that prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, will no longer be called “enemy combatants.” No word yet on what the new term will be. No doubt the poetic euphony of “man-caused disasters” and “overseas contingency operations” sets a very high bar for Obama’s Office of Euphemism Generation. But surely “Men Prone to Disaster Causation” or “Overseas Counter-Contingency Operators” are the most obvious choices. My friend Mark Steyn, however, suggests going another way: “Future Facebook Friends.”

We had a lot of fun with that last one around the conservative blogosphere, in a gallows-humor sort of way — the kind of laugh Barack Obama himself enjoys now and again.  My preference: future security consultants.  Laugh if you will, but don’t be surprised to see MS-NBC hire one or two for that purpose, once we close Gitmo.

Jonah describes this as a “moral failing,” an inability to face tough choices.  Instead of actually dealing with the uncomfortable realities of terrorism, we call it “man-caused disasters” as a way to strip responsibility from the act, and therefore the need to deal with the intent to kill.  After all, a “disaster” like Katrina can be blamed on George Bush, but a man-caused disaster just happens.  In fact, maybe Napolitano can make up bumper stickers that say, “Man-caused disaster happens!”  They’ll sell like hot cakes … to the Code Pink, International ANSWER, and World Can’t Wait crowds.

What’s next from the Department of Orwell in the West Wing?  Shall we call homicides “early terminations”?  It’s on the same level as calling fish “sea kittens,” PETA’s attempt to propagandize children into vegetarianism.  The Obama administration thinks we’re all children, apparently.

Jonah Goldberg will appear tonight at the University of Minnesota at 7 pm to talk about his book Liberal Fascism and its application to the green movement.  I’ll try to be there to cover it for Hot Air, but if you’re in the area, CFACT will have the event at 125 Willey Hall in Minneapolis.  Here’s the web site announcement, too.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2

And the circus continues…..

DL13 on April 7, 2009 at 3:32 PM

Newspeak.

Christian Conservative on April 7, 2009 at 3:33 PM

What’s the euphemism for ‘failed presidency’?

Vashta.Nerada on April 7, 2009 at 3:34 PM

What’s the euphemism for ‘failed presidency’?

Vashta.Nerada on April 7, 2009 at 3:34 PM

George Bush.

capitulus on April 7, 2009 at 3:35 PM

Meanwhile, the White House has announced that prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, will no longer be called “enemy combatants.” No word yet on what the new term will be.

They will hence forth be called “Honored Guests!” pfffffffft

capejasmine on April 7, 2009 at 3:35 PM

Change has come to America and the world.

Well done President Obama.

Finally, a leader.

getalife on April 7, 2009 at 3:35 PM

The left has ALWAYS understood the effectiveness of controlling and changing language.

artist on April 7, 2009 at 3:36 PM

Obama is “Commander-in-Chief Challenged”

carbon_footprint on April 7, 2009 at 3:36 PM

Old: Enemy Combatants
New: Foreign Guests

gridlock2 on April 7, 2009 at 3:36 PM

The Doofus-ism presidency.

sheesh on April 7, 2009 at 3:37 PM

“invest” is still my favorite.

forest on April 7, 2009 at 3:37 PM

What’s the euphemism for ‘failed presidency’?

Vashta.Nerada on April 7, 2009 at 3:34 PM

Change

getalife on April 7, 2009 at 3:35 PM

Thank you

Vashta.Nerada on April 7, 2009 at 3:38 PM

What’s the euphemism for ‘failed presidency’?

Vashta.Nerada on April 7, 2009 at 3:34 PM

presidentus interruptus

ericdijon on April 7, 2009 at 3:39 PM

“man-caused disasters” = Obama Administration

notashamed on April 7, 2009 at 3:40 PM

The Obama administration thinks we’re all children, apparently.

And he is the rock star & savior that we all should look up to for all the answers and “hope & change”.

Susanboo on April 7, 2009 at 3:40 PM

Jonah Goldberg will appear tonight at the University of Minnesota at 7 pm to talk endure double-ungood-anti-feedback about his book Liberal Fascism …

OhEssYouCowboys on April 7, 2009 at 3:40 PM

How about “Future ACORN Community Organizers”

rbj on April 7, 2009 at 3:41 PM

words… just words…

gatorboy on April 7, 2009 at 3:41 PM

“Shall we call homicides “early terminations”? ”

Unlawful abortions?

the_nile on April 7, 2009 at 3:41 PM

well, the war on terror language was misleading, so that i can understand changing. global policing (which is what it actually is) would be more fitting but equally unpalatable. the others, however, are in fact euphemisms and laughable ones at that. silly sh*t.

ernesto on April 7, 2009 at 3:41 PM

“Shall we call homicides “early terminations”? ”

Unlawful abortions?

the_nile on April 7, 2009 at 3:41 PM

Extrememly Post Term Abortions?

Romeo13 on April 7, 2009 at 3:42 PM

I agree. Henceforth, the Left will now be called the Communists, for clarification purposes…. :)

HomeoftheBrave on April 7, 2009 at 3:42 PM

Shall we call homicides “early terminations”?

“Post-natal abortions”.

If you’re against homicides, that means you’re anti-choice.

malclave on April 7, 2009 at 3:43 PM

enemy combatants = honored guests

RobCon on April 7, 2009 at 3:44 PM

Shall we call homicides “early terminations”? ”

Unlawful abortions?

the_nile on April 7, 2009 at 3:41 PM

Self directed abortions

gatorboy on April 7, 2009 at 3:44 PM

enemy combatants = ‘tourists directed onto the wrong tour bus’

gatorboy on April 7, 2009 at 3:45 PM

What’s the euphemism for ‘failed presidency’?

Vashta.Nerada on April 7, 2009 at 3:34 PM

‘currently under-appreciated transformational leader’

gatorboy on April 7, 2009 at 3:47 PM

What do you expect from people who majored in Marxist theories? Or as they’re referred to in the Ivy League, Literature, History, and Economics.

The banality of the Left is its utter predictability. Derrida would be proud.

EMD on April 7, 2009 at 3:47 PM

‘vast right wing conspiracy’ = truth knocking at your door PO(tu)S

gatorboy on April 7, 2009 at 3:47 PM

Enemy Combatants = Overseas Operators of Domestic Contingencies.

Winston Smith is escorted to Room 101 in 5…4…3..2…1…

Steve Z on April 7, 2009 at 3:47 PM

Now that is the kind of inference from fact I can stand behind. Spot on MB4. :)

chemman on April 7, 2009 at 3:48 PM

Doesn’t the government have higher priorities than acting as a Roget’s Thesaurus for bureaucrats?

Like, maybe…I dunno…staff the Treasury Department and the Office of Protocol?

ladyingray on April 7, 2009 at 3:48 PM

“man-caused disasters”
How sexist.
“Person-caused disasters”
That’s better.

MHatch on April 7, 2009 at 3:48 PM

No surprise from the people who call killing babies “Choice”

DamnYankee on April 7, 2009 at 3:48 PM

Obama’s term=Roman Temple Pillar of Failure and Empending
Doom!

Obama’s Administration=A Bridge to far,and not far enough!

canopfor on April 7, 2009 at 3:49 PM

Hmmm… no enemy Combatants… so…

New acronym?

Moslems Against Seriously Terrible Extreme Republic States?

IE… MASTERS?

Romeo13 on April 7, 2009 at 3:49 PM

Vashta.Nerada on April 7, 2009 at 3:34 PM

It used to be Jimmy Carter. However, dear leader, the great oral-ator, is quickly causing people to say Jimmy who?

Has anyone else noticed that suicide bombings in Iraq are increasing?

jdkchem on April 7, 2009 at 3:49 PM

To Obamaphiles “Bush-caused disaster” covers all of them.

zmdavid on April 7, 2009 at 3:49 PM

Just more of the same politically correct bullshit that’s been spouted for several years.

GarandFan on April 7, 2009 at 3:50 PM

This shouldn’t surprise, we were told years ago that terrorists = freedom fighters.

Bishop on April 7, 2009 at 3:51 PM

How’s this? Lying Piece of Sh*t. He’s a flat-out shameless liar. Any argument with that?

marklmail on April 7, 2009 at 3:51 PM

Romeo13 on April 7, 2009 at 3:49 PM

Creepy, man…I actually had a chill run up my spine when I read that.

ladyingray on April 7, 2009 at 3:52 PM

Hey, I’m starting to get my euphemisms mixed up, wasn’t “overseas contingency operations” = Obama apologies?

the_nile on April 7, 2009 at 3:52 PM

getalife, capitulus

Trolls with nothing better to do.

DamnYankee on April 7, 2009 at 3:52 PM

getalife on April 7, 2009 at 3:35 PM

yeah… so when Iran shoots a nuke up his ass, he can call it a suppository, and then he’ll be an even better leader.

D2Boston on April 7, 2009 at 3:53 PM

To Obamaphiles “Bush-caused disaster” covers all of them.

zmdavid on April 7, 2009 at 3:49 PM

Soooo… anything last year, was BC (Bush Caused)…

What do we call the new age of Obama Enlightnement?

Romeo13 on April 7, 2009 at 3:53 PM

Liberals words on abortion,

‘unviable tissue mass’!

canopfor on April 7, 2009 at 3:53 PM

No big surprise, here. When you let 5 year olds fly the airplane, the first thing they do is draw all over the instruments with their crayons. That’s a Precedent for you.

progressoverpeace on April 7, 2009 at 3:53 PM

getalife = Would be groom of the stool to our dear leader

gatorboy on April 7, 2009 at 3:53 PM

well, the war on terror language was misleading, so that i can understand changing. global policing (which is what it actually is) would be more fitting but equally unpalatable. the others, however, are in fact euphemisms and laughable ones at that. silly sh*t.

ernesto on April 7, 2009 at 3:41 PM

Agreed, except about the “policing” part. It’s a transnational network that seeks to use violence to impose its fundamentalist Wahhabist religion on everyone else, recreating a long ago empire. Thus to me, that takes it out of the realm of policing, & crime and into war. Problem is, some of those fundamentalist Wahhabists are in the House of Saud, and this it is impolitic to call it what it is. But it definitely is war, and not policing (and the Korean War shouldn’t have been called a “police action” either).

rbj on April 7, 2009 at 3:55 PM

Has anyone else noticed that suicide bombings in Iraq are increasing?
jdkchem on April 7, 2009 at 3:49 PM

O’ fer the sake of….the correct term is “man-caused sudden release of energy while self-terminating.”

Why do I have to do everything around here?

Bishop on April 7, 2009 at 3:55 PM

My favorite………….

…………. Social Security.

Seven Percent Solution on April 7, 2009 at 3:55 PM

Why not, we have renamed garbage collectors as sanitation engineers(what school gives out these diplomas?)so we may as well just call this idiot the Usurper of the United States.

Obama really is a twit.

larvcom on April 7, 2009 at 3:55 PM

Let them eat logos.

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on April 7, 2009 at 3:56 PM

What do we call the new age of Obama Enlightnement?

Romeo13 on April 7, 2009 at 3:53 PM

Royal scroomage.

MB4 on April 7, 2009 at 3:56 PM

I suspect he will keep a bunch of Bush programs and give them another name and take the credit.

workingforpigs on April 7, 2009 at 3:57 PM

Jihady Terrorist,a Liberal friendly term would be,

‘misguided scripture student misadventures’!!

canopfor on April 7, 2009 at 3:57 PM

I bet he copied someone elses homework in college.

workingforpigs on April 7, 2009 at 3:57 PM

Royal scroomage.

MB4 on April 7, 2009 at 3:56 PM

orrrr…

AD…. Age of Democrats?

Romeo13 on April 7, 2009 at 3:58 PM

My favorite………….

…………. Social Security.

Seven Percent Solution on April 7, 2009 at 3:55 PM

Yes because authorized government ponzi scheme would have tipped everyone off. Truly this must have been the first example.

larvcom on April 7, 2009 at 3:58 PM

If we have another 9/11 attack, they will be called TERORISTS and the attack will be a TERROR ATTACK.

Obama’s an idiot.

Oink on April 7, 2009 at 4:00 PM

What do we call the new age of Obama Enlightnement?

Romeo13 on April 7, 2009 at 3:53 PM

Bowel Excrement Delicacies

Seven Percent Solution on April 7, 2009 at 4:01 PM

Some motorcyclists call a crash a “premature dismount”.

A crash by any name is still a crash.

UltimateBob on April 7, 2009 at 4:01 PM

The Doofus-ism presidency.
sheesh on April 7, 2009 at 3:37 PM

That’s Hipster-Doofus-ism to you, sheesh. ‘Cause he be cool.

;-)

Traffic Cop Timmy on April 7, 2009 at 4:02 PM

This man is turning his presidency into an episode of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. Call it what it is! The adults can handle it.

sherry on April 7, 2009 at 4:02 PM

When is Obama going to start his own Minitrue?

Ryan Gandy on April 7, 2009 at 4:04 PM

“invest” is still my favorite.

forest on April 7, 2009 at 3:37 PM

We have become such suckers for words that politicians can spend our tax money like a drunken sailor, provided they call it “investment.” At least the drunken sailor is spending his own money — but people look down on him because he doesn’t call it “investment.”
- Thomas Sowell

MB4 on April 7, 2009 at 4:05 PM

When is Obama going to start his own Minitrue?

Ryan Gandy on April 7, 2009 at 4:04 PM

The NY Times?

Loxodonta on April 7, 2009 at 4:06 PM

getalife, capitulus & friends = helpless sufferers of acute cranio-rectal impaction

OhioCoastie on April 7, 2009 at 4:07 PM

Adults are in charge.

The President has won over the world.

getalife on April 7, 2009 at 4:08 PM

Change has come to America and the world.

Well done President Obama.

Finally, a leader.

getalife on April 7, 2009 at 3:35 PM

Tanked economy, man caused disaster.

Obama Franks Waters LLC — architects of failure.

unclesmrgol on April 7, 2009 at 4:08 PM

The President has won snowed over the world.

FIFY

gatorboy on April 7, 2009 at 4:11 PM

helpless sufferers of acute cranio-rectal impaction

OhioCoastie on April 7, 2009 at 4:07 PM

Better call Jerry Lewis. Maybe he can start a telethon.

MB4 on April 7, 2009 at 4:11 PM

Adults are in charge.

The President has won over the world.

getalife on April 7, 2009 at 4:08 PM

As I have said before, this person is either

a) clueless and not paying attention
b) paying attention and stupid as hell
c) messing with us

No one can possibly believe the pap that he / she / it spews.

UltimateBob on April 7, 2009 at 4:13 PM

Adults are in charge = Full-sized children now running the nation

Bishop on April 7, 2009 at 4:13 PM

Shall we call homicides “early terminations”?

Involuntary suicide or premature euthanasia.

mchristian on April 7, 2009 at 4:14 PM

Exhibit A: “Overseas contingency operations.” That’s the Obama administration’s term of choice to replace “the long war” or “the global war on terror.” No doubt they were inspired by the famous Leo Tolstoy novel, Overseas Contingency Operations and Cessation of Overseas Contingency Operations, later dumbed-down by the publisher to War and Peace.

Dumb.

Question, what was World War 1 (WW1)called in 1927?

Hint: it wasn’t World War 1, no World War 1(WW1)till World War 2(WW2).

“Overseas contingency operations.”

O-CO?

That’s an O-CO No No!

DSchoen on April 7, 2009 at 4:14 PM

Adults are in charge.

The President has won over the world.

getalife on April 7, 2009 at 4:08 PM

Bowing to a King would make it appear so……..

………. wouldn’t it?

Seven Percent Solution on April 7, 2009 at 4:15 PM

Adults are in charge.

The President has won over the world.

getalife on April 7, 2009 at 4:08 PM

Sniffing copious amounts of glue is not healthy, getalife.

Speaking of health, getalife, shouldn’t you be taking your enlistment physical about now? Your President needs you in Afghanistan, and maybe Pakistan latter, don’t keep letting your President down.

MB4 on April 7, 2009 at 4:15 PM

Seven Percent Solution on April 7, 2009 at 4:15 PM

Apparently so would getting laughed at by the foreign press, being called comrade by the Russians and being snubbed for extra troops in Afghanistan.

Bishop on April 7, 2009 at 4:17 PM

When is Obama going to start his own Minitrue?

Ryan Gandy on April 7, 2009 at 4:04 PM

MSNBC.

Already done.

malclave on April 7, 2009 at 4:18 PM

Speaking of health, getalife, shouldn’t you be taking your enlistment physical about now? Your President needs you in Afghanistan, and maybe Pakistan latter, don’t keep letting your President down.

MB4 on April 7, 2009 at 4:15 PM

Are you kidding? He / she / it would wet his / her / its pants if it came within 10 feet of a real rifle that fires real bullets.

UltimateBob on April 7, 2009 at 4:18 PM

MB4 on April 7, 2009 at 4:15 PM

Uh oh…is memory serving me correctly in that getaclue once demanded “if you believe in YOUR President’s war so much, why haven’t you enlisted?”

Bishop on April 7, 2009 at 4:18 PM

We are after all dealing with liberals.
They truely believe that words control everything.
Finding the proper name for something and you control it.
A form of metaphysical linguistic alchemy.

They also believe that you can change the nature of something or someone, merely by changing it’s lable.

MarkTheGreat on April 7, 2009 at 4:20 PM

Cons are unhinged because the President is succeeding.

Never bet against your country cons.

You will lose.

We just needed leadership and now we got it.

getalife on April 7, 2009 at 4:21 PM

What’s the euphemism for ‘failed presidency’?

Vashta.Nerada on April 7, 2009 at 3:34 PM
George Bush.

capitulus on April 7, 2009 at 3:35 PM

see what I mean.

They honestly believe that if the declare Bush to be a failed president often enough, then they can make him a failed president.

MarkTheGreat on April 7, 2009 at 4:21 PM

Are you kidding? He / she / it would wet his / her / its pants if it came within 10 feet of a real rifle that fires real bullets.

UltimateBob on April 7, 2009 at 4:18 PM

That’s were getalife sniffing copious amounts of glue comes in.

MB4 on April 7, 2009 at 4:22 PM

I agree. Henceforth, the Left will now be called the Communists, for clarification purposes…. :)

HomeoftheBrave on April 7, 2009 at 3:42 PM

Most intelligent post of the day. The leftdemocratic party was taking over by the communists a long time ago.

calguyintexas on April 7, 2009 at 4:22 PM

Thank you

Vashta.Nerada on April 7, 2009 at 3:38 PM

That was perfect.

scalleywag on April 7, 2009 at 4:24 PM

I think it is symptomatic of people whose successes are through words rather than accomplishments that they think changing the name of something is a significant act towards resolution of an issue. This is why I hate Senators and other non-reality-based professionals (college professors, actors, etc.) as executives: they think writing something down on a piece of paper and signing it is a sufficient fix to a problem. Unfortunately, we now have a national capitol full of these types that are calling the shots. We ought to do like Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and put them all on a rocket ship to another planet.

Socratease on April 7, 2009 at 4:24 PM

Soooo… anything last year, was BC (Bush Caused)…

What do we call the new age of Obama Enlightnement?

Romeo13 on April 7, 2009 at 3:53 PM

what do you mean, last year?

MarkTheGreat on April 7, 2009 at 4:25 PM

Uh oh…is memory serving me correctly in that getaclue once demanded “if you believe in YOUR President’s war so much, why haven’t you enlisted?”

Bishop on April 7, 2009 at 4:18 PM

I suppose that getalife must rationalize that he is serving his President better here with his outstanding and continuing success at converting vast numbers of Hotair commenters to Obamaism.

MB4 on April 7, 2009 at 4:26 PM

The President has won over the world.

getalife on April 7, 2009 at 4:08 PM

Not according to the world.

From this mornings headlines, most of them are laughing at him.

MarkTheGreat on April 7, 2009 at 4:27 PM

Adults are in charge.

The President has won over the world.

getalife on April 7, 2009 at 4:08 PM

Automaton.

bluelightbrigade on April 7, 2009 at 4:28 PM

Cons are unhinged because the President is succeeding.

Never bet against your country cons.

You will lose.

We just needed leadership and now we got it.

getalife on April 7, 2009 at 4:21 PM

You got a teleprompter getalife? Because your comments always sound canned, never very spontaneous, inspiring, profound, or novel. Same old tired, canned rhetoric, just like the TOTUS. Perhaps you could take his place in front of a podium one day. No one would notice.

Who’s betting against their country? Because we make fun of the president for wasting time on these silly euphemisms means we’re betting against our country? Typical lib talk…tired, uninspiring drivel.

scalleywag on April 7, 2009 at 4:31 PM

Seen the previews on this one -

We could always tell if the new general was clueless or someone that was going to actually take care of business – the clueless ones would ALWAYS make a point of ‘re-organizing’ and re-naming the various staff functions. I eventually chalked this up to the guy in charge wanting everyone else to be just as confused and bewildered as he is.

And man, Barry must be one confused madder hatter at this point. . .

Wind Rider on April 7, 2009 at 4:34 PM

Adults are in charge.

The President has won over the world.

getalife on April 7, 2009 at 4:08 PM

See what I mean? Tired, dull, canned responses. Try something original! Take a chance. There are 26 letters in the alphabet, get creative!

scalleywag on April 7, 2009 at 4:35 PM

Not according to the world.

From this mornings headlines, most of them are laughing at him.

MarkTheGreat on April 7, 2009 at 4:27 PM

Sure, the RW blogs can cherry pick America hating hacks but the truth is, his trip was very sucessful.

Instead of dwelling in negativity, look for the positive articles for there are many.

getalife on April 7, 2009 at 4:35 PM

From now on, when we speak of Liberals, they shall be classified as…

Communist Barney Frank, Communist Nancy Pelosi, Communist Getaclue, etc.

PappaMac on April 7, 2009 at 4:35 PM

Comment pages: 1 2