Hearty thanks to Senator Jon Kyl and his mouthpiece for confirming a point we make in our next book: euphemisms are best reserved for irony.
You may have heard that Kyl made up a completely false statistic about Planned Parenthood on the Senate floor last week, claiming that “well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does” is provide abortions. Three percent of the organization’s budget goes for abortions. Kyl’s spokeswoman later told CNN that Kyl’s remark “was not intended to be a factual statement, but rather to illustrate that Planned Parenthood, a organization that receives millions of dollars in taxpayer funding, does subsidize abortions.”
A gleeful Stephen Colbert had a factualfest and issued a series of hilarious afactual Tweets, while Democrats grabbed tweaky Twitter hashtags. Kyl finally blamed the whole thing on his flack, saying he merely “misspoke.” Wow, sure beats solving the nation’s deficit!
“Not intended to be factual” is a euphemism; the term comes from the Greek, meaning to “speak good.” In this case, it means, “He was just lying.” The problem with a euphemism is that people see it as a euphemism. Not only is it easy to translate, but the speaker looks slimy to boot.
If you’re going to use euphemisms, make sure they’re clichés like “misspoke.” That also means lying, but people are used to it. It’s lying, backed by years of congressional tradition.