Quote: [The word surge] “falls into the Orwellian zone between language and politics.” Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, speaking to the Washington Post.
Figure of Speech: eponym (EH-po-nym), a word made from a person’s name. From the Greek, meaning “upon a name.”
Once again the Republicans show their mastery of rhetoric, and the media show their ignorance. The Democrats label the president’s plan to add 20,000 troops to Iraq “escalation,” recalling the Vietnam quagmire. Not bad, but not sexy either, and it’s hard to work into a headline. “Surge” is much better. It’s little. New. Different. And inside that tiny word-capsule is an argument: We’ll roll over the enemy, and then we’ll roll back.
Should the media adopt such a rhetorically rich word? Since they don’t know what rhetoric even is, the argument hardly comes up. Credit media think-tanker Tom Rosenstiel for trying, at least. He gropes for a rhetorical term and comes up with the eponym “Orwellian” — derived, of course, from the writer George Orwell, whose fictional dictators ruled through euphemism.
But “surge” isn’t Orwellian, or even euphemistic. Nobody is being brainwashed here. Nor is the zone between language and politics Orwellian. It’s rhetorical. Then again, dear Figarist, you already knew that.
Snappy Answer: “And the media increasingly fall into the O’Reillyan zone between politics and gossip.”