Conwell: The Truth, and Nothing but the Truth
If you’re like me, you quickly grow weary of the name-calling, back-stabbing, vilifying, mudslinging, and muck-raking that goes on in Washington. And that’s just between friends. Heaven forbid what happens to enemies.
I’ve had my fill of politicians from every party delivering a speech or granting an interview one day, and then standing up the next and with angelic innocence blatantly denying the meaning of the words they spoke.
“I misspoke.” That’s the new mantra for so many. “I misspoke.”
One most recent “misspoke-misspeak?” was the budget cuts from the Senate. From what the public was told, over sixty billion dollars had been cut when actually, only 322 million was carved from the bulbous budget. Seems like the difference was simply moved back and forth in accounting tricks, a fact both parties failed to mention.
They bragged. “We cut sixty billion.”Haven’t you noticed the growing usage of the expression?
According to the Bodhi Tree Swaying Blog, “misspoke” is a weasel word.
Like the time Hillary Clinton remarked she “misspoke” when she claimed she’d run across a tarmac airfield in order to avoid sniper fire after landing in Bosnia as first lady in 1996.
Weasel words are derived from the weasel’s habit of sucking the contents out of an egg without destroying its shell. A weasel word is deliberately misleading or ambiguous language used to avoid making a straight forward statement while giving the appearance of having made such.
People today buy into such weasel words because by their use, they avoid the truth of their behavior, lying.
That’s what the then primary candidate Clinton really did in her Bosnia remark, she lied.
She isn’t by herself. They don’t misspeak. They lie. And they’re well aware of it when they do.
All right, so it isn’t fair to say all misspeaks are deliberate. Some come about out of sheer ignorance.
But the ones to whom I refer are the politicians. Far, far too many of them believe such linguistic gymnastics is essential to their success.
Do you remember when the then aspiring Supreme Court candidate Sonia Sotomayor remarked “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life?”
And when confronted with the statement, claimed she meant that all judges should render decisions without regard to any bias.
Or the time in 2005 she said a “court of appeals is where policy is made.” Immediately she added “And I know this is on tape, and I should never say that because we don’t make law. I know. O.K. I’m not promoting it. I’m not advocating it. I’m-you know.”
All I know is she does believe courts shape policy despite her protestations.
And then we have politicians who misspeak unintentionally. If we follow to the definition of “misspeak,” unintentional misspeaking is not really misspeaking, but simply a mistake. Make sense? Doesn’t to me either, but on with the story.
Our former president, George W. was a master at mangling the English language. I think it was playwright George Bernard Shaw who remarked that the British and Americans were two people separated by a common language. Well, that common language was how old George got into the act.
I suppose the one remark of his that sticks in my mind was when he said, “They misunderestimated me.”
Stop and think about it. He knew what he meant to say. I know what he meant to say. We all know what he meant to say. But he didn’t say it.
Or what about the time he said “I’ve abandoned free market principles to save the free market system?”
That one, I can’t figure out.
Both of his remarks, though vague and ambiguous, are mistakes, not misspeaks.
When was the last time you went to a doctor and he prescribed medicine with the comment, “Take this and let’s see what happens?” Never? Right? Nobody’s going to experiment on me.
Instead, he says, “Let’s see how well you tolerate it.”
Looks to me, it’s everywhere.