Devil Yes. Silver-Tongued? Not So Much

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For a man so poorly spoken, Commandante Blockhead has a penchant for building his own private lexicon. For months now, talking heads have debated BushCo’s extreme aversion to the term “civil war”. There’s been incessant discussion over whether we’re “teetering on the brink”, “weeks away from”, or already in a “deepening civil war“.

Of course, it’s not the first time the country has faced such weighty matters of lexicography. We’ve debated words like “incursion”, “police action”, and “low intensity warfare” plenty of times before, but they’ve always amounted to the same thing – something other than the raging war du jour to talk about. Think of these discussions as the linguistic equivalent of a tiresome debate over the merits of a flag burning amendment – as worthless a discussion as there can be.

It seems to me that no matter whether it’s a looming civil war, full-scale civil war – or as Jon Stewart put it – a faith-based melee, the bullet that kills the poor sod who’s at the wrong place at the wrong time rips the skin in the same way. It makes the academic discussions over what to call the killing as moronic as they are. Imagine trying to define a specific amount a victim can be killed – “just a wee bit killed” or “eviscerated beyond belief. Either way, the victim is one unlucky sumbitch.

This weekend, the media apparently did a little soul searching and are tentatively coming out in favor of “civil war” to describe the War of Error. I can’t imagine that George Daniel Webster likes this turn of events. He’s clung to the idea that no “real” war was taking place as tightly as Leonardo Di Caprio clung to a life ring from the Titanic. Now that a “real” war has broken out how will he and his crack team of etymologists spin it?

Call in the Fightin’ 101st Keyboardists! These are battle conditions lads! Pass the malaprops and man the parapets! Tony Snow has one helluva snow job to shovel. Maybe he should call in Karen Hughes – you know – since the Arab world loves us so much now that her fine work as Ambassador of Confusion and Misinformation has so pacified them.

I expect they’ll continue to insist that the FUBAR in Falluja still isn’t a war, but just a sign that the insurgents are in the last throes of collapse. He and Sicky Dick can tell because they have those pesky A-rabs right where they want them, standing over us with their boots on our neck and a Kalishnakov to our temple. Speaking in Orwellian tongues is so natural to this crowd they long ago lost the sense of irony the words carry or care whether people believe them or not. So as the warlike whatchamacallit worsens, we’ll find the cabal down at the “liebary” looking up synonyms for all they’re worth, ready to blaze new trails in language and despair.

Sometimes it just makes you long for the days when language wasn’t a lead box to shield radioactive crapitude from the public discourse. Even Nixon called the break-in at the Watergate a break-in. People would have laughed his crooked ass off the public stage if he’d called it a “low-intensity, high-value intelligence incursion” – but not the Thesauri of Crawford. He gaze admiringly as so finely a turned phrase. He has no such compunction when it comes to hiding behind words. He’ll lay them on nice and thick, even if he can’t properly pronounce them.

It’s a good thing that Bush Library – an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one – is slated to be the largest and grandest of these Presidential Pyramids to Poppycock. It will have to hold lots and lots of words.

Even of none of them do make any sense.

Give Us Some Choice Words