Your Federal “Family” and the Creepy Gentle Lure of Language

Peruse this Palm Beach Post story, “FEMA’S use of term ‘federal family’ for government expands under Obama,” for some creepy word choices.  When I was at the Justice Department, I heard certain lifelong bureaucrats use terms like “sister agencies” to describe other federal departments.  It sounded like a mindset more at home in the Bundesregierung, but foreign to American traditions of limited central government.  The Palm Beach Post story has these gems:                           


“Under the direction of President Obama and Secretary Janet Napolitano, the entire federal family is leaning forward to support our state, tribal and territorial partners along the East Coast,” a FEMA news release declared Friday as Irene churned toward landfall.

The G-word — “government” — has been nearly banished, with FEMA instead referring to federal, state and local “partners” as well as “offices” and “personnel.”

 Under this administration, the use of the creepy term “Federal family” has risen tenfold compared to the Bush years.


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