Shades of ‘1984’: ‘Obamaspeak’ made easy
by Melvyn L Fein
May 06, 2013 12:08 AM | 987 views | 1 1 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When I was in high school, one of our required readings was George Orwell’s novel “1984.” This was so long ago that back then I thought of this year as in the distant future. Now, of course, many of my students at Kennesaw State University regard it as the distant past. At the time, my peers and I worried about whether Orwell’s dystopian predictions would come true. Happily most did not. The United States has not developed into a totalitarian state — at least not yet. But one thing has come to pass. Our current leaders have so distorted the language that it bears only a faint resemblance to its former self. In his book, Orwell introduced us to Newspeak, a variant of English used by dictators to control their subjects. Today, we are being bombarded by Obamaspeak, which is a dialect of Newspeak. It, too, is designed to close down thought and prevent people from seeing reality. It should be noted that Obamaspeak is not only spoken by our president, but by most members of his administration. It has also become the lingua franca among liberal Democrats. So fluent are they in it that many have completely lost touch with the real world. Anyway, let’s examine some Obamaspeak favorites. We can begin with “truth.” In this new language, truth means, “Whatever we can get people to believe.” What is described as true may thus have nothing to do with actual events. In fact, it may be the opposite. All such “fictions” must achieve is to seem plausible. Then, if they are repeated often enough, they will appear factual. On the other side of the coin is the word “misleading.” It translates into “whatever conservatives and Republicans say that contradicts what liberal democrats claim.” This especially applies if what these critics articulate describes the world as it actually is. The word “lie,” on the other hand, is reserved for particularly attractive versions of what the opposition contends. It is the heavy artillery dragged out to vilify old-fashioned versions of the truth. Generally uttered with suitable disdain, the implication is that ordinary people should shun those who defend what liberals abhor. Given its flexibility, this sort of language was aggressively used to support ObamaCare and to defame its detractors. Thus, when Republicans predicted that Americans would lose their doctors under this program, the public was told that they were being misled — or, more emphatically, that Republicans were lying. The official title of ObamaCare, of course, is the “Affordable Care Act” — itself a prime example of Obamaspeak. The idea was to convince voters that this initiative would cover the previously uninsured, and do so at lower costs. Ergo, to assert that this is fiscally impossible was clearly “misleading.” Obama also insisted that his overhaul of the health care system would not cost average Americans “a single dime.” As a result, this phrase too deserves to be translated. Roughly speaking it means “less than a trillion dollars.” Actually, on second thought, this is not correct. The real meaning is “less than 10 trillion dollars” — or whatever figure the program finally winds up costing. A more recent Obamaism is “red line.” Analogous to a line in the sand that is not supposed to be crossed, it is even less firm. Thus, lines in the sand may blow away; whereas an Obamaspeak red line vanishes the more closely one approaches to it. Some true-believing liberals are not aware of this, but you may be sure that Bashar Assad is. The Syrian strongman knows President Obama will always find ways to deny that a red line has been crossed and therefore that the United States will not honor his promise to act. All-in-all, Obamaspeak is a magical political tool. It allows its users to sound strong and/or compassionate, without having to be either. Perfectly designed for people who habitually talk out of both sides of the mouth, it has achieved many of its intended goals.

Melvyn L. Fein, Ph.D., is a professor of sociology at Kennesaw State University.
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off balance
May 06, 2013
Dr Fein,

I don't think I can afford Affordable Care. But--I don't understand it. I read most f the first release (over 800 pages), but not the second release, because I recognized that the Cloward Piven strategy of overloading the system have, indeed, overloaded me. I hope some younger people will read the bill and post some thoughts here

We conservatives are ever on the defensive due to the constant urgings of progressives to replace things that are not broken or only need some tuning.

The progressives seek a country that has no borders and no morals. I would rather remain a conservative for, I believe , history shows what happens to Godless societies and it isn't pretty.
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