Monday, August 20, 2012


There is certainly no lack of oxymorons in politics and government these days, and you would be hard-pressed to say Republicans are alone in their creation and use of them, but they do appear to have a gift for some of the more questionable ones. The current flap over Missouri Senatorial candidate Todd Akins is an interesting case in point. “Legitimate rape” is an excellent example of the genre and has single-handidly taken over the news for the past couple of days.

I guess it was George W. Bush who promoted perhaps one of the greatest oxymorons of all time when he presented us with “compassionate conservative” (it was probably some Republican speechwriter or consultant) and used it successfully for a time. We know now from bitter experience just how oxymoronic it really was.

Mitt Romney seems to have a peculiar gift for the oxymoron although some of his utterances may not be pure examples of the genre. “Corporations are people” would seem to be a good case in point, “I’m unemployed” would be another. “Planned parenthood, we’re going to get rid of that,” if taken literally makes no sense whatsoever.

Some previous oxymorons, such as “liberal Republican” are never heard anymore since if there ever really were any they have been purged or driven underground by now. Unfortunately you can still hear “conservative Democrat” as we still have the so-called “Blue dog Democrats” occasionally fouling the works. Depending on how much of a nitpicker you wish to be I suspect you might argue that “small government” is a bit of an oxymoron. Government is government, neither small or large, just the government you have. “Government is the problem” seems to me to be a genuine classic oxymoron that completely misses the point. Nowadays we put up with things like “Liberal bias,” “Reagan democrats,” “Christian militias,” “Congressional ethics,” “ Known unknowns,” “Humane wars,” “Known conspiracies,” and even such outrages as “Conservative think tanks.” Oxymoronics has become so commonplace in our society, and especially in politics and government, it threatens to bury reality in such a heavy fog as to keep us perennially lost in webs of meaningless verbiage on the way to linguistic armageddon.

Depending on how liberally you interpret things you might argue that many Republican actions might be seen as oxymoronic. “Romney foreign policy” might qualify, along with “Private Universities” and “Private prisons” (you have to think about it). “Obama is a socialist” probably ranks up there with “Compassionate conservative” for sheer incredulity.

Oxymorons aside, I thought George W. Bush had an absolute lock on meaningless gibberish until I stumbled across this from Mitt Romney:

“I believe in an America where millions of Americans believe in an America that’s the America millions of Americans believe in. That’s the America I love.”

I also find inspiring (I like consistency):

I'm not familiar precisely with what I said, but I'll stand by what I said, whatever it was."

I am returning this otherwise good typing paper to you because someone has printed gibberish all over it and put your name at the top.

An English Professor

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