Orwellian Obama

The Daily Show had two good segments on the US policy of using drones to kill people. It looks at the so-called legal rationale that the Obama administration created to justify its own actions and how the language in it is designed to deceive rather than clarify. The memo is a deliberate exercise in the cynical use of language and reveals the utter hypocrisy of the Obama administration on this issue.

In his excellent essay Politics and the English Language George Orwell gave examples of how political leaders distort language, saying “Political language-and with variations this is true of all political 
parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists-is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable and to give an appearance of solidity to 
pure wind.” If Orwell were alive today, he would have been impressed with the Obama administration’s skill in this area and would have found much better examples of the point he was making.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
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(These clips were aired on February 4, 2013. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post.)


  1. trucreep says

    Let’s remember – the people behind this “legal rationale” are the administration’s own lawyers. Partisan lawyers who move up the ladder by doing what they’re told and saying yes whenever they’re asked. The Obama Administration is adding on to the book the Bush Administration wrote.

  2. says

    the people behind this “legal rationale” are the administration’s own lawyers

    Are you deliberately oversimplifying a complicated situation?

    The current disaster has built upon a trend of other disasters. For example the papers of John Yoo (the Bush lawyer who invented the torture justification) are cited as references. There is plenty of blame to go around and it transcends party politics.

  3. left0ver1under says

    US administrations used to say, “We can’t do that”. Since the invention of the CIA, every administration has said, “How can we get away with it?”

    Like a thief who steals bigger and bigger things, US presidents and administration have committed greater and greater crimes because they know there are no consequences. Nixon’s exposure slowed it for a while, but it’s actually gotten worse since then.

  4. trucreep says

    Of course I am. When I said the current administration is adding on to what the previous administration is doing, I feel like that supports what you said, that the current disaster has built upon a trend of other disasters. Pushing the envelope further is almost reliant on the fact that your predecessor pushed it further than it had been previously.

    lol, basically I’m saying that we agree with each other here – I’m afraid that your initial hostility towards me was because you perceived me as being unfairly harsh towards Obama, which seems to reflect the current state of affairs: the liberal hypocrisy.

  5. says

    I think there is no amount of harshness sufficient for Obama short of a seat in the defendant’s box at The Hague. Don’t try to make assumptions about what other people are thinking, you’re not very good at it.

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