Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Obama-Bush Word War

The Administration's verbosity is under bi-coastal attack today from two former Bush factotums.

Bush I speechwriter Peggy Noonan complains in the Wall Street Journal: "As the federal government claims ever greater powers, its language has become vague to the point of meaningless and meaningless to the point of menacing."

On his Los Angeles Times blog, Andrew Malcolm, who was once Laura Bush's press secretary, offers an "Obama Era Language Update," explaining how "terror" and "drug war" have been euphemized into "man-caused disasters" and "a public health issue requiring treatment more than enforcement."

Of the latter, Malcolm predicts "vaccinations against drive-by shootings and muggings."

Noonan meanwhile under the title, "What's Elevated, Health-Care Provider?" drubs Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for using expressions like "accessing affordable quality health care" instead of "going to the doctor."

After eight years of W's mangled simplifications like "axis of evil," the Obama crew's wonkery may indeed be fair game (Treasury Secretary Geithner recently took on a tutor in plain speaking), but "menacing" is more than bit much.

It was Ms. Noonan, after all, who had the first Bush saying, "Read my lips--no new taxes," and we all know how well that bit of straight talk worked out.

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