With the Senate set to take up the White House's plan to save our collapsing markets, and the promise of a renewed effort to do the same in the House, the White House has stepped up efforts to close the deal. Chief among them, a change in nomenclature. See, there are these things called "connotations" -- subtextual, emotional coloration to words that society has agreed upon. For example: "eager" people are awesome, while "anxious" people are terrifying. This is stuff we all learned about in high school and mostly forgot about after we took the Scholastic Aptitude Test, which was a mistake because now politicians use the power of connotations as the first layer of lipstick for all their pigs. This is why we have this term "tax relief" as a stand in for "giving rich people the money," and why bills that will slowly destroy the world as we know it get names like "The Happy Awesomeness Freedom Act of 2006."
This is all in play now with regard to the plan to cart $700 billion off to save a bunch of banks. Overtime, this effort has come to be known as a "bailout" package -- but since the word "bailout" tends to signify a fruitless effort to save a sinking ship, the White House has led the efforts to get this term switched out for something that they like:
"It's really unfortunate shorthand for a very complicated issue," said Deputy White House Press Secretary Tony Fratto.
"Our critics took the language of a 'bailout for Wall Street,'" he said, and the news media adopted it as the shorthand to describe the administration's aid package.
He insisted, at the daily White House news briefing: "It is not a bailout for Wall Street. It is not a bailout for CEOs."
The word the White House prefers is "rescue."
Of course, the word that the House Republicans prefer is "crap sandwich," but with a concerted enough effort, you watch: the media may shift in their choice of terminology. Now, if only the White House would start calling this measure "Tony Rescue," and offer to buy Barack Obama a $700 billion mansion, John McCain might have a shot at the White House.