About This Site

Figaro rips the innards out of things people say and reveals the rhetorical tricks and pratfalls. For terms and definitions, click here.
(What are figures of speech?)
Ask Figaro a question!

This form does not yet contain any fields.

    « Protect and ... What Was the Other Thing? | Main | He's Kinky, and He's Our Man »

    Don't Call It Spin. Call It Market-Tested Truth-Telling.

    bushpinocchio.gifQuote:  "What is being considered is not a militarization of the border, but support of border patrol capabilities, on a temporary basis, by National Guard personnel."  White House spokeswoman Maria Tamburri, in the New York Times.

    Figure of Speecheuphemismus, the euphemism.

    Faced with a national emergency—the November elections—President Bush plans to send National Guard troops to the Mexican border.  The Mexican president, Vicente Fox, expressed concern.  So the White House responded with a euphemismus ("pretty language").  Don’t call sending heavily armed troops to the border "militarization."  Call it "support of border patrol capabilities."

    The euphemism can help redefine an issue.  But the White House commits a rhetorical blunder when it repeats the original unfavorable term; that, and not the euphemism, is what tends to stick in the audience’s mind.  We’re reminded of Mr. Burns, owner of a nuclear power plant and Homer Simpson’s employer. "Oh, meltdown," he says.  "It’s one of those annoying buzzwords.  We prefer to call it an unrequested fission surplus."

    We prefer to call it a meltdown.

    Snappy Answer:  "Temporary, you say? Like Iraq?"  

    PrintView Printer Friendly Version

    EmailEmail Article to Friend

    Reader Comments

    There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

    PostPost a New Comment

    Enter your information below to add a new comment.

    My response is on my own website »
    Author Email (optional):
    Author URL (optional):
    All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.