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The Humpty Dumpty President’s Magic Words

In a scornful tone: "When I use a word... it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less."

by
Dan Miller

Bio

September 5, 2011 - 10:03 pm

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

My first blog article on political matters, published on April 1, 2008, and republished here a few days ago, was titled “Words, Words, Words! I’m so Sick of Words.”

Awaiting President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress on September 7th, whoops 8th to present his grand plan to save or create jobs (which it won’t do) brought Words, Words, Words to mind and it was easy to imagine Audrey Hepburn singing this duet with President Obama:

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Ways beyond those mentioned in the article came to mind, in which words have lost their ordinary meanings and, through inspired genius, have become meaningless as well as deceptive to the “little people” who cling to their guns, Bibles, and sanity. Fortunately, the ploy has been so overused as to become increasingly obvious and therefore unsuccessful. Anticipating President Obama’s address also reminded me that my dogs communicate better than he does. They bark or growl to tell us things and they use actions to show us, now. President Obama, however, reads stuff written for his indispensable ally and constant companion, TOTUS.

Unlike the wise animals in Kenneth Grahame’s 1908 The Wind in the Willows, if dogs use words only they understand their meanings. For the rest of us they make sounds, some of which indicate pain, happiness, or desire. Those sounds are generally accompanied by actions and are invariably truthful. A dog will not bark and wag his tail to indicate pleasure unless experiencing or anticipating pleasure. He will not bark and wag his tail to indicate a friendly approach, or growl and bark to indicate a hostile approach, unless he senses that one is being made. When he wants food, it is obvious from his sounds and actions. Dogs don’t lie and don’t need teleprompters.

On September 8th, President Obama will most likely follow the script he laid out here for his followers:

“I think the key is not to get too bogged down in detail,” the president said last night.

“If somebody asks about taxes, nobody is really interested in hearing what precise marginal tax rate change would you like to see in the tax code,” Obama said. “What they want to know is that our campaign stands for a fair, just approach to the tax code that says everybody has to chip in, and that it’s not right if a hedge fund manager is being taxed at a lower rate than his or her secretary.”

According to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd,

Obama is still suffering from the Speech Illusion, the idea that he can come down from the mountain, read from a Teleprompter, cast a magic spell with his words and climb back up the mountain, while we scurry around and do what he proclaimed….

After pushing and shoving and caving to get on TV, the president’s advisers immediately began warning that the long-yearned-for jobs speech wasn’t going to be that awe-inspiring.

“The issue isn’t the size or the newness of the ideas,” one said. “It’s less the substance than how he says it, whether he seizes the moment.”

Dogs do not even attempt subtle obfuscation; they are usually quite specific as to what they want and when they want it. A male dog beats around the bush only when preparing to urinate on it. On second thought, that brings President Obama’s behavior to mind.

Most people are not like President Obama. However, the politicians among us and those who write and speak for them have elevated the art of using words deceptively to a very high station, while their friends in the media often hear voices from the man upon the stair.

Last night I saw upon the stair

A little man who wasn’t there.

He wasn’t there again today.

Oh how I wish he’d go away!

This is not new, but if President Obama is a master of anything it is of attempted obfuscation and of being what and where he isn’t. I don’t know what or how he thinks; sometimes it is questionable whether he thinks or simply employs other people to do that for him. Perhaps he has retained Humpty Dumpty, a true egghead, as his word czar.

Before, during, and after what most would consider extravagant vacations (no luxurious vacation cruises in North Korea for him yet, because he has been too busy maneuvering  the ship of state onto the rocks) that cost taxpayers much money, he calls for shared sacrifice from — other people. According to a new Rasmussen poll, lots of “other people” didn’t take summer vacations this year and “half of those that did had to cut back for economic reasons”:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of American Adults shows that just 33% took a summer vacation this year. That’s down from 41% last year and 37% in 2009. Sixty-five percent (65%) of adults say they did not take go on summer vacation.

Like so many others, these numbers were “unexpectedly” low. “In a poll taken prior to the summer season, 38% of American Adults planned to take a summer vacation this year, while 54% did not.”

When President Obama tries to magnify class distinctions, he calls for more taxes on the undeserving rich and their wicked corporations to benefit the deserving poor and thereby enhance his own increasingly poor prospects of reelection. Some rich folks and some corporations are, however, the right left shade of green and therefore not on his enemies list, so he relishes their aid while reciprocating their generosity. When he seeks to further whatever his agenda might be and calls for more investment in the future (“Win the Future,” a.k.a. “WTF,” has unexpectedly fallen into disuse), he evidently seeks a future most of us don’t want: it involves creepy but not creeping statism and the diminution of personal liberty and responsibility; but it is, of course, green and plantation-like.  Most people are no longer favorably impressed.

Perhaps the disenchanted have lost all hope for change they can believe in and are beginning to understand modern Librulspeak. Or maybe they have come to wonder whether the country is in the very best of hands.

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The Librul disease of word distortion has infected many besides politicians:

The pattern has been for liberals to redefine all political debate to the point that anything which does not conform to their agenda is instantly characterized as “rancor,” “extremism,” or “hate.” While liberals have engaged in such tactics for many years, the degree to which it is currently done has grown in recent years. The Tea Party’s devotion to fiscal sanity is “draconian” or “mean spirited.” Concern for the moral preservation and restoration of the nation and its foundational institutions including traditionally defined marriage, is “homophobic” or “hateful.” Protection of the unborn is “sexist” or “anti-woman.” Recognition of the cultural and spiritual roots of the nation, and their critical importance to its future are “religious intolerance” or “xenophobia.” Yet Congresswoman Maxine Waters is called “mainstream” by the MSM.

The linked article cites many other examples of this disease. I wonder how many of those President Obama will use during his joint session address. There will likely be many others as well, including these: “investment” (spending), “common sense” (nonsense), “social justice” (equality of result for Attorney General Holder’s people), “gamesmanship” (stop it — that’s my job), “great leap forward” (whoops, somebody else used that one), “get to work” (You do it; I have never worked, don’t know how and don’t want to anyway), “give and take” (You give and I take), “grow the economy” (administer the coup de grace), “federal family” (crazy uncles formerly in the attic who have taken over the house), “executive action” (legislation by fiat), “transparency” (you can see right through it), and “bipartisan” (I demand what I ask for). President Obama’s speech writers are prolific souls and will come up with many more, each more distorted in meaning than the others.

Enhancing the English language must bring great pleasure to someone of President Obama’s historically superior strange intellect and negotiating skill. Rather than selfishly asking that he remain our president at least until 2017, we should generously reward his valiant efforts by granting him a well deserved, prompt, and happy retirement to his presidential library and a happy life of vacations and continued fiction writing ever after. Another Nobel Prize awaits; he has already earned will earn it and for there to be true social justice he must have it very soon.

Anthony Pham / ShutterStock

Dan Miller graduated from Yale University in 1963 and from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1966. He retired from the practice of law in Washington, D.C., in 1996 and has lived in a rural area in Panama since 2002.
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