Everyone likes slogans. A snappy sentence, a phrase that pays or an old adage we frequently recite that carries meaning for us.
“I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
“Are you ready for some football?”
“I see dead people.”
“There are only two things I hate: those who are intolerant of other people’s cultures, and the Dutch.”
We all use them. And so does President Bush, who has a myriad of Texas-flavored bon mots that he uses in nearly every speech and seemingly with little forethought. They’re usually things like “Let’s roll” or “evildoers” or “Axis of Evil.”
And then we have his intermittent verbal diarrhea, which the president himself has even lampooned. To wit:
“There may be some tough times here in America. But this country has gone through tough times before, and we’re going to do it again.”
“Do you have blacks, too?” (To Brazilian President Fernando Cardoso)
“This foreign policy stuff is a little frustrating.”
But none of these linguistic gems is as contrite as the creepy Orwellian catchphrases his message team has adopted.
Watch a speech on C-SPAN or look at the next day’s newspaper photo, and you’ll see these odd two- or three-word headlines behind the podium.
If the speech is about domestic security, it’s a given that behind the President is emblazoned “PROTECTING OUR HOMELAND.”
If it’s about accounting reform, you probably won’t miss the words “CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY.”
It’s as if the Bushies realized how incoherent their boss can be and decided a big message board behind him would help Americans understand what the hell he’s talking about. Or maybe they’re just hints for the speaker.
Reflecting this trend of nerdy verbiage is the newest maxim of the Bush administration, possibly the lamest federal slogan to come along since “Just Say No.” As part of Bush’s obesity initiative, an effort to get Americans off their derrieres and into shape, the administration has crafted kid-oriented fitness messages commanding youngsters to become active. And in a burst of creativity, they decided to use the word VERB – which, as we learned in fourth grade English class, means an “action word!” The slogan, starring in commercials on Nickelodeon, reads thusly:
“Verb: It’s what you do.”
Commercials show children swimming with words like “run” and “jump” on the screen. I’m sorry, but since when did grammar become an effective child-attention-getter? If anything, it will bore kids to death and remind them of lost hours of youth spent with Miss Levine learning proper English. For most kids, words are not sexy.
This obnoxious slogan is only the latest in the series of what can only be termed Bushisms. Maybe if the administration had a coherent, well-considered message, these silly reminders wouldn’t be necessary.