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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Posted: February 1, 2006 01:03 AM

Decoding the State of the Union


Never misunderestimate George W. Bush. Here's a President who's gutted the treasury, eroded the environment, divided our society, ruined our reputation, frayed our military, undermined our security, inspired our enemies and overall weakened America. But there he stood tonight and delivered a State of the Union speech disconnected from the reality we're living in.

As Tom Engelhardt has observed, the way gunmen once reached for their guns, this Administration reaches for its dictionaries to find words to deceive and distract people.

I know that the long battle to retake our country from the forces of extremism, corruption, mendacity and injustice requires bold ideas and principles. But, in the meantime, remember that language is power and clever words sell really rotten policies. Or, as that savvy political philosopher George Carlin once said, "Whenever the other side has you talking their language, they've got you."

So, for all you decent and truth-loving Americans, here's a quick guide to decoding tonight's SOTU. (These definitions come from my "Dictionary of Republicanisms.")

Bipartisanship, n.
1. When conservative Republicans work with moderate Republicans to pass legislation that Democrats hate.
2. Another name for date rape. [Grover Norquist, Third Level, Hell]

Compassionate Conservatism, n.
1. Republican preelection concern for the disadvantaged. [Gary Hunter, Thomasville, NC]
2. (a) I got mine; (b) I got yours too [Brian Kenner, Tervuren, Belgium].
3. Poignant concern for the very wealthy. [Laurence Sandek, Twin Peaks, CA].

Democracy, n.
1. A product so extensively exported that the domestic supply is depleted.
2. When they vote for us; see TYRANNY: When they vote for someone else [Rebecca Solnit, San Francisco, CA].

Ending Tyranny, catchphr.
1. Bombing followed by military occupation [Kerry Jones, Houston, TX.]

Energy Independnce, n.
1. The Yucca Mountain renovation program [Kimberl Ellenberger, Beloit, WI].
2. The Caribou witness relocation program [Justin Rezzonico, Keene, OH].

Freedom, n.
1. God-given right of every American to agree with Bush and his policies [Ken Guarino, Miami, FL].
2. What Arabs want but can't achieve on their own without Western military intervention; it bears a striking resemblance to chaos. [Matthew Polly, Topeka, KS.]

Free Markets, n.
Halliburton no-bid contracts at taxpayer expense [Sean O'Brian, Chicago, IL.]

Frivolous Lawsuits, n.
Those filed against corporations who donate heavily to the GOP [Fred Bonavita, San Antonio, TX]

Growth, n.
1. The justification for tax cuts for the rich.
2. What happens to the national debt when Republicans cut taxes on the rich [Matthew Polly, Topeka, KS]

Health Savings Accounts, n.
1. Another tax shelter for the healthy and the wealthy [Ann Wegher, Montello, WI].
2. Investment capital for banks [Bill DiNome, Wilmington, NC].

Honesty, n.
Lies told in simple declarative sentences--e.g. "Freedom is on the march." [Katrina vanden Heuvel, New York, NY].

Job growth, n.
Increased number of jobs an American has to take after losing earlier high-paying job [John E. Tarin, Arlington, VA].

Medicare Prescription Drug Bill, n.
No Drug Company Left Behind [George K. McHugh, Dublin, CA].

No Child Left Behind, riff.
1. There are always jobs in the military [Ann Klopp, Princeton, NJ].

Nonpartisan, n.
Member of good standing in the Federalist society [Mark Hatch-Miller, Brooklyn. NY]

Personal Responsibility, n.
1. Poor people trying to support their families on $5.75 an hour.
2. Rich people changing the tax code so their children never have to work. [Chelsea Snelgrove, Atlanta, GA.]

Reform, v.
To end all entitlements [Herbert New, Verona, NJ].

Staying the Course, v.
Saying and doing the same stupid thing over and over, regardless of the result [Suzanne Smith, Ann Arbor, MI].

Support the military, v.
To praise Bush when he sends our young men and women off to die for a lie without proper body armor [Marc Goldberg, Vancouver, WA].

Tax reform, n.
The shift of the tax burden from wealth to work [Dan McWilliams. Santa Barbara, CA]

From the author's Nation blog, Editor's Cut.