From George Orwell to George Lakoff, the connection between controlling language and controlling politics has been well established. But when the effort to control language gets to the point where it denies reality, it simply gets to be too much to believe. That is why people lose faith in politicians and pundits. When you spend your time saying east is west and up is down, eventually people just realize that you are either lying to them or lying to yourself. Either way, you are lying.
Witness the publication of Star-Ledger‘s Paul Mulshine:
We see something of the same phenomenon with George W. Bush. Liberals love to paint Bush as a conservative and therefore argue that his abject failure is a failure of conservatism. But Bush himself never claimed to be a conservative. The closest he came was when in the 2000 campaign he termed him self a “compassionate conservative.”
Well, how would you explain this:
When asked about these critiques [that he is not a conservative] on Fox News Sunday, Bush replied, “I’m a conservative. I got elected governor in a conservative state.”
From President Bush’s 2004 speech at the RNC Convention:
I’m running for President with a clear and positive plan to build a safer world, and a more hopeful America. I’m running with a compassionate conservative philosophy: that government should help people improve their lives, not try to run their lives.
Or this line from a speech in Pennsylvania:
And that sets up a real difference in this campaign. My opponent is a tax-and-spend liberal; I’m a compassionate conservative.
And just to pile on – because it’s so easy and demonstrates how shoddy Mulshine’s “journalism” is, I’ll include Bush’s 2000 announcement speech:
I’m running because my party must match a conservative mind with a compassionate heart…I’ll be guided by conservative principles. Government should do a few things, and do them well. Government should not try to be all things to all people…I make decisions based on a conservative philosophy that is engrained in my heart.
Mulshine can argue all he wants that George W. Bush is not a “true conservative” – I actually agree with that – but he can’t say that George W. Bush doesn’t say that he is. Nor can he argue that he campaigned, not as an isolated reference, but as a political identity in both 2000 and 2004 as a conservative. As I recall, it was liberals at the time that questioned what his use of “compassionate” as a qualifier might actually mean back then.
See Scott Garrett flip below the fold.