George Orwell, in his essay, “Politics and the English Language,” wrote, “All issues are political issues and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia.” If Orwell is correct then I, as a news consumer, am in danger of poisoning my inner being with “lies, evasion, follies,” etc. Sounds bad. The impeachment hearings were especially toxic.
Listening to Republicans, I kept asking myself, “Didn’t these guys see ‘The Godfather?’” The Democrats seemed diligent … the operative word being “seemed.” Both sides spent most of their exuberance on a rhetorical food fight, which, while amusing, was not nearly as entertaining, informative, or satisfyingly finite as a good Three Stooges episode.
“No quid pro quo.” Splat! “Do us a favor, though.” Splat! “Illegitimate process.” Splat! “No one is above the law.” Splat! “A scam and a witch hunt.” Splat! And on and on. Nobody tried to assay the value of all the sloganeering.
Orwell had this situation sighted in. “By simply throwing your mind open and letting ready-made phrases come crowding in, you perform the important service of concealing your meaning even from yourself. It is at this point that the special connection between politics and the debasement of the language becomes clear.” Bullseye.
Utah Congress personality, Chris Stewart was an instructively archetypal example of talking-point zombie-ism. He furthered the state’s proud tradition of electing political attack dogs by admirably filling the paw prints of Jason “Benghazi” Chaffetz while conscientiously avoiding any approach and/or proximity to logical discourse, indubitably proving that the application of intelligence is not a prerequisite for a seat on the Intelligence Committee. But you knew that.
What I want to know is what any voter needs to know – The Facts. What was actually on that eight-minute phone call? How about some straight talk from Adam Schiff, D-Calif., about process? The White House had two weeks to scrub the phone call before releasing the laundered transcript. (Oops, they missed a spot, though.)
Is Intelligence Chair Schiff as sleazy and manipulative as Republicans claim? Let all of them ask whomever about whatever. Anyone who tries to avoid this testimony to the electorate by hiding behind a legal fiction should be immediately escorted to Dante’s 8th Circle (I don’t have time to go into it but it has something to do with pitchforks, lawyers and boiling tar.) I’d like to know the facts. Whatever your political penchant, wouldn’t you?
“Political language,” Orwell opines, “is designed to make lies sound truthful, murder respectable, and give the appearance of solidity to pure wind.” Lies as truths are venerable government fare: Vietnam, WMD, Afghanistan, and now … Since when did murder become respectable? 1865? 1963? 2016? As for giving “the appearance of solidity to pure wind”…why… why…that’s poetry! What a nice surprise.
“The great enemy of clear thinking is insincerity.” Guess who? But what is sincerity? Chris Stewart seems sincere, snarling and lunging at Adam Schiff from behind the Beltway Junkyard fence. Joe Biden seems sincere as he washes his son’s dirty money off his hands. Recognizing sincerity is where I get bogged down to the axles.
Most of my sincerest revelations came when I realized I was sincerely mistaken and had to apologize and atone to recover some semblance of self-respect. It’s like coughing up a hairball then having to swallow it back down. Biden and Stewart are, by their own lights, sincere people. But at least one, and probably both, are sincerely mistaken about quite a bit. Probably the entire Congress is.
A veritable Constitutional Hair-Ball Crisis (CHBC) looms. This engine of perpetual insincerity is powered by faithfully repeating the catechism of “ready-made phrases” while “concealing your meaning even from yourself.”
As such, this nonsense is more a spectacle of faith than fact. And so I am reminded of the Old Cowboy’s accuracy as he slathered a grasshopper eight feet away with a stream of snoose then drawled, “Ya cain’t reason someone outta’ somethin’ they warn’t reasoned into,” – colloquial grammar being neither an impediment to clear thinking nor as disturbingly dishonest as the political “debasement of the language.” Orwell would have liked this guy.
Rory Tyler is a resident of Grand County.