One key component of a running rhetorical analysis aimed at denaturalizing political language is the constant revision of a working glossary. Readers are invited to contribute current glossary items. Below are some from the mid-80s.
Words are never innocent, but the art of political rhetoric is to make them invisible, taken-for-granted, natural, like oxygen. Reading a Journal editorial is actually an exercise in cryptography, and here are some key terms and phrases from editorials written from October ’85–October ’86 likely to be recycled for the next two years.
Acid Rain, Toxic Waste, Agent Orange, Nuclear Hazards, Product Liability, Monopolies: Myths or theories, used by “environmentalists” and “activist judges” to harass and maim American industry.
The Agenda of American guilt: Vietnam and Watergate. Now abolished. No more Mr. Nice Conscience.
Arms Control: An illusion well-lost. Replaced after Reykjavik by a tripartite strategy to counter the Soviets: SDI, total verification arrangements, and increased pressure on the Soviets to end internal political repression. “Rearmament” has replaced “disarmament”.
James Buchanan: Nobel laureate “public choice” economist always used to prove how Democrats are self-serving hypocrites who need reigning in by a balanced budget amendment.
Budgetary Restraint: Giving the President the line-item veto. Any Presidential budget decisions are, by definition, “restrained”.
Chernobyl: Short for Soviet incompetence and deceit, never a symbol for the risks of nuclear power.
Colorblindness: The death-knell of affirmative action. Related to “constructive engagement”: let the chips fall where they may, “naturally”.
The Commander-In-Chief: A President who end-runs Congress.
Competition: The one unfailing, trustworthy human engine for improving the world.
Congress: Nothing more than “a machine for extracting money from the broad population and passing it out selectively.”
Constructive Engagement: In administration terms, a euphemism for propping up an unsavory regime. “Constructive” is actually a redundant intensifier, since any such “engagement” is by definition “constructive”–a marriage of convenience.
Entrepreneur: The highest of human aspirations.
Environmentalists: Unreasonable, self-seeking hypocrites who use the smokescreen of a love of nature to disrupt corporate profits and create jobs for themselves. Like South Africa, “the environment” should be benignly neglected.
FDR: Precursor of Ronald Reagan. Meant only as shorthand for strong leader, not for FDR himself or his policies. Always mentioned as the previous president to have affected a major political revolution in America. Details left out.
Fault:That which cannot be proven in a liability suit, or else that which lies with the consumer; thus should be the basis of tort reform.
Incentive and Margin: The two key terms of supply-side economic theory, a value theory of labor. What it takes to give the already-rich the incentive to do additional work, so they can help the poor.
Internal Affairs : To be differentiated from foreign influences. Any nation we are favorably disposed towards, such as South Africa, should have inviolate internal affairs. Any nation we are opposed to, such as the Soviet Union or Nicaragua, has no internal affairs because they are dictatorships. Akin to the Kirkpatrick Doctrine differentiating authoritarian from totalitarian regimes.
Judicial Restraint and “Separation of Powers”: That philosophy practiced by Reagan-appointed judges, as opposed to “activist judges”. Restrained judges have an innate sense of the Constitution’s “original intent”: they have its essence in their sights. Separate Presidential powers come in the form of the line-item veto and the repeal of the War Powers Act. By definition, any decisions rendered by the Rehnquist court which the Journal agrees with will be following the spirit of the Constitution; all others will be “activist” interpretations. Like “activism,” “interpretation” is out.
Mutual Assured Destruction: The “horrible concept” that American arms negotiators followed for a generation, now replaced by the pacific notion of strategic defense, which “does not threaten, only protects.”
Open Market Reform: (a.k.a. The Baker Plan) Get tough with foreign nations by making them abolish regulation, price controls, progressive tax structures, currency revaluations, land-reform programs, trade barriers, and all state-run enterprises; go to the gold standard to “stabilize capital assets”; make the world safe for U.S. corporate investment abroad; enrich foreign elites as the only way to lead the huddled masses out of poverty.
Performance-oriented: The opposite of regulated, as in the sentence, “If the Pentagon is to be performance-oriented instead of constantly looking over its shoulder, Congress will have to stop treating it as a gold mine of scandals to publicize and exploit.”
Privatizing: Making a buck out of anything and everything. Any failures would be due to government regulation. New target: air traffic control.
Productivity: Anything the that creates “financial assets”; by contrast, the poor are “unproductive” and therefore self-victimized.
The Rich: Thanks to supply-side economic laws, the best friends the poor could ever hope for.
Risk: That which entrepreneurs take in order to be productive. “Moral issues,” (always in quotation marks) like South African sanctions or environmentalism are “unproductive” because risk-free to those who entertain them.
SALT-II: The last lingering Carter guilt-trip, now well behind us.
SDI: As the first US arms initiative that gets the Soviets off-balance, SDI represents the long-awaited reversal of Vietnam. Should be deployed immediately over America, Israel and Europe. The litmus test for U.S. patriotism.
San Francisco: The Other. Not a part of America. As in “San Francisco Democrats.”
Self-control: The keystone of New Right morality, best induced by such authoritarian state controls as drug testing, banning of contraceptives, and censorship.
Thomas Sowell: used to attack affirmative actions and explain why all blacks ought to be Republicans.
Static and Dynamic Analysis: The “static analysis box” is economic forecasting that doesn’t take supply-side growth into account. Thus supply-side policy can always be justified by “dynamic analysis,” which assumes the alleged but chimerical growth long promised by supply-siders. Recessions are caused by the policies proferred by static analysts, not the failure of supply-side theory.
Too Political: Any opposition to the administration. a.k.a. “special interest” or “constituencies” or “judicial activists”.
Tough decisions: (a.k.a. “willingness to lead”): Any decision by the “Commander-In-Chief” to end-run Congress and the State Department. Leadership, like toughness, means going it alone.
Worker’s rights: Like “the public good,”or “social justice,” an example of “Marxist claptrap”. A hypocritical smokescreen for those who would maim U.S. industry. The only true workers’ ally is corporate profit