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Lee, Bernays, and Gingrich have all had a lasting impact on the political use of language in America. If you seek monuments to their accomplishments, you have to look no further than your daily paper or television news program. It is to them that we owe stories about “collateral damage” rather than “dead civilians.” In that spirit, allow me to offer up my own devil’s dictionary of contemporary American political terms.
American exceptionalism: a doctrine whose proponents hold that by divine dispensation America is exempt from all laws governing international norms, physics, or rationality.
Authentic: used to describe a candidate who is unaware of current events and doesn’t read a newspaper, and is proud of it.
Class warfare: a technique by which teachers, nurses, firemen, and cashiers are believed to be oppressing derivatives traders and CEOs, which includes unreasonably complaining that their wages aren’t keeping up with the cost of their health insurance.
Conservative: a person profoundly respectful of heritage, tradition, and old-fashioned values while preaching the revolution and strip-mining the Grand Canyon for high-sulfur coal.
Darwin’s theory of evolution: an evil doctrine that denies the teachings of the Bible. Social Darwinism, on the other hand, is what made America great and is perfectly consistent with the Sermon on the Mount.
Elites: insufferable, overeducated snobs who are not real Americans and may in fact be French. Mitt Romney (Harvard MBA and JD) and George W. Bush (Yale, Harvard) have often criticized such scoundrels.
Empower: If an American worker loses his pension or Social Security, he is empowered.
Free-market capitalism: the economic system by which Halliburton gets sole-source, cost-plus government contracts.
Global warming: a hoax perpetrated by a worldwide conspiracy of biased scientists. Fortunately it is being combated by right-wing foundations, oil companies, televangelists, and other disinterested believers in objective fact.
Job creators: the truly creative engines of economic growth in our society: real-estate flippers, mortgage-backed securities bundlers, leveraged buyout specialists, dividend drawers, and hedge-fund billionaires.
Level playing field: what every lobbyist wants in the spirit of fairness. The only way to achieve it is by bribing politicians to award a sole-source contract to his client.
Liberal (pronounced librull): a satanic ideologue who is at once a socialist leveler, an elitist defender of privilege, an atheist, and a secret Muslim determined to bring sharia law to America.
Patriot: someone who loves America more than he loves the majority of the people living therein.
Populist: an advocate for the interests of “real” Americans who vehemently fights for the abolition of all government regulation of Wall Street investment banks.
Prolife: the unconditional support of the first nine months of a human being’s existence. After that period has expired, the same human being has an unconditional right to be executed by the state, sent off to war, or die without health insurance.
Real Americans: the minority of Americans who look, think, and act exactly as I do.
Rogue state: a country that violates international law by committing armed aggression, torturing prisoners, assassinating opponents, and possessing weapons of mass destruction. cf: american exceptionalism
Sharia law: a fundamentalist religious doctrine imposed on a given political jurisdiction. Any resemblance to public statutes on abortion in the Commonwealth of Virginia is purely coincidental.
Take our country back: Give us what we want right now, even if we don’t know what it is.
Tea Party: people covered by Medicare who hate socialized medicine.
Washington spending: the bad sort of spending that doesn’t go toward earmarks to campaign contributors, subsidies to big oil, or the military’s half-trillion-dollar budget. Everyone knows the Pentagon is across the Potomac in Virginia, not in Washington.
Win-win situation: see level playing field.