Bush branding: 11 labels we’d like to forget

Yesterday, NPR’s On The Media aired an interesting segment about Bush and language. It wasn’t another jab at his butchering of English; it was a look at his administration’s creative branding of its policies, programs and  initiatives:

Gladstone’s guest, “Republican wordsmith” Frank Luntz, doesn’t anticipate that much of Bush’s lexicon will stick, but he seems to be referring to Bush’s oratory, rather than the Administration’s knack for naming. Regretfully, I think we’ll have to live with some of these names for a while (not to mention the damage they’ve done). In no particular order…

  • Operation Enduring Freedom. I think you have to establish freedom before it can endure. As I read on a bumper sticker once: “We’ll Liberate the Shit Out of You.” Remember when this one was…
  • Operation Infinite Justice. Because Bush’s top adviser is… The Lord, and The Lord apparently likes Tom Clancy novels. Either way, this war introduced us to…
  • Unlawful enemy combatants. Not just enemy combatants, but unlawful ones. In any case, this means that even though we’re in the middle of a “war” on terror, the people we’re fighting are not “prisoners” of said war once we capture them. They’re “detainees.” And they’re unlawful. How convenient for us. Or maybe not, since the government can decide that any one of us is an unlawful enemy combatant pretty much whenever it wants to and with no explanation whatsoever. Think about this before you chuck your shoes at the president smart guy, or you might be subjected to…
  • Enhanced Interrogation Techniques. Don’t worry though, it’s not torture. Sigh.
  • The Axis of Evil. We have to trust him on this. He talks to The Lord, remember?
  • Homeland Security. They tell us what color we are – red, orange, yellow (like Lifesavers… literally), and they keep American cities from being destroyed (except by hurricanes). We all feel much more secure with them around.
  • Patriot Act. It tells us how to act patriotic.
  • No Child Left Behind. And seven years later, no children are behind! Right?
  • The Clear Skies Initiative. Because who’s not for clear skies? Wait, Bush? Really? But what about the name? I don’t get it.
  • The Healthy Forests Initiative. Because who’s not for healthy forests? Wait, Bush? Really? But what… oh, I think I’m starting to understand.
  • Compassionate Conservatism. Ahhh, this is where it all began.

For a final word on Bush’s knack for naming, I leave you with Jon Stewart.

Aspirational Time Horizon