November 8, 2005
Dictionary of Republicanisms (Paperback)
Katrina vanden Heuvel, the innovative editor of The Nation magazine, asked readers to come up with definitions that would expose the real meaning behind Republican pronouncements. Because if one thing is clear, the GOP Stepford message point bloviators speak in a coded language. Nothing really means what the words they utter traditionally mean; it's the wink and the nod that's behind the language that counts.
So, for instance, one can easily define the daily mission of White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan's effort to "clarify" as the act of repeating "the same lie over and over again." Or is there a modicum of doubt that "pro-life" actually means the "valuing of life up until birth"? Heck, the readers of the Nation and vanden Heuvel wrote an actual Republican dictionary, it seems, not just a satire.
You might call it a GOP decoder. Who can dispute that for "Baby Doc" Bush conviction is defined as "making decisions before getting the facts and refusing to change your mind afterward"? BuzzFlash passed a mumbling man with some mental health problems the other day. It was a beautiful, sunny day and the gentleman kept insisting it was raining, even though there wasn't a cloud in sight. He had his story and he was sticking to it. Bush thinks that type of behavior is being manly and courageous. Actually, it just means that you need your meds.
There are the briefest of definitions (as in China, n., See Wal-Mart.) and longer ones like the three-parter for "Class Warfare": "1) Any attempt to raise the minimum age; 2) Any attempt to limit the concentration of wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer plutocrats; and 3) Any attempt to proved affordable health care for the working poor." Of course, while virtually the entire sub rosa strategy of the GOP is class warfare, the Democrats generally run away from the phase as if it carried avian flu.
We especially liked definitions such as the one for a presidential press conference: "1) Extremely rare phenomenon -- see Haley's Comet; and 2) Opportunity for gay hustler to advertise his political services."
Vanden Heuvel includes a postscript to the Dictionary of Republicanisms, which she wrote shortly after the hurricane that shares her first name devastated New Orleans, as Bush ignored the incident.
She writes, "The failure to respond in a timely fashion as the disaster unfolded on national television was not the first time the Republican White House has mismanaged a crisis; it was the latest in a long line of failures. We simply can't afford to trust them any longer. As we drain and rebuild New Orleans, the time has come to drain the right wing's self-enriching agenda from American politics and rebuild our country into a place we can be proud of again."
Yes, we must marginalize the neoconservatives, n., or "Nerds with Napoleonic complexes."