The uses of euphemism

Obama’s speech last night was permeated with the deep dishonesty and poll-tested euphemisms that constitute his contribution to the debt ceiling debate. Here are a few of the euphemisms Obama has contributed: revenues (taxes), shared sacrifice (taxes), asking for something (taxes), millionaires and billionaires (taxes on individuals earning more than $200,000 a year or couples earning more than $250,000 a year), the balanced approach (taxes).

The euphemisms are almost laughable. Almost. Here is a paragraph of poll-tested pabulum in his peroration:

What we’re talking about under a balanced approach is asking Americans whose incomes have gone up the most over the last decade – millionaires and billionaires – to share in the sacrifice everyone else has to make. And I think these patriotic Americans are willing to pitch in. In fact, over the last few decades, they’ve pitched in every time we passed a bipartisan deal to reduce the deficit.

Well, as long as you’re asking, I’d just like to say. No thanks, man, I already gave. And I’d like to “ask” a question of my own. Those patriotic millionaires and billionaires you’re “asking”: what’s stopping them from giving now?

Obama even inserts his euphemisms into his take on American history, and not for the better. Here “compromise” requires a translation of its own, but you can use the handy key above to get a handle on it:

America, after all, has always been a grand experiment in compromise. As a democracy made up of every race and religion, where every belief and point of view is welcomed, we have put to the test time and again the proposition at the heart of our founding: that out of many, we are one. We have engaged in fierce and passionate debates about the issues of the day, but from slavery to war, from civil liberties to questions of economic justice, we have tried to live by the words that Jefferson once wrote: “Every man cannot have his way in all things…Without this mutual disposition, we are disjointed individuals, but not a society.”

History is scattered with the stories of those who held fast to rigid ideologies and refused to listen to those who disagreed. But those are not the Americans we remember. We remember the Americans who put country above self, and set personal grievances aside for the greater good. We remember the Americans who held this country together during its most difficult hours; who put aside pride and party to form a more perfect union.

I guess I remember different Americans than the ones Obama remembers.

Let’s see. How can I say this politely? Oh, yeah. What a complete and utter crock.

UPDATE: Bill Kristol has related thoughts, as does Roger Kimball.

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