Interpreting ‘Govspeak’

Drew Alexander | Oct 8, 2013, 2:04 p.m.

There’s the English language as you and I know it, then there’s the vernacular native to politicians and bureaucrats when pseudo-communicating with the hoi polloi that I call “Govspeak.”

When you hear someone uttering Govspeak, you may think you know what you’re hearing but you really aren’t. This is because the surface words always have an underlying meaning. So it’s up to me, your humble word warrior, to interpret the true nature of what you are being told by the ruling class in Washington, D.C.

Govspeaker says: “We are thoroughly investigating the matter.”

Really saying: We’re going to sweep this under the rug and you people will soon forget all about it.

Govspeaker says: “The American people have a right to know.”

Really saying: You little people out there may think you have a right to know, but nobody here is going to tell you what’s really going on.

Govspeaker says: “I’m drawing a red line and if you cross it there will be serious consequences.”

Really saying: I know I’m not scaring anybody, I just like sounding macho sometimes.

Govspeaker says: “We are implementing these measures for the good of the public.”

Really saying: You are too stupid to know what’s good and what’s bad for you so the government will make these decisions for you.

Govspeaker says: “We need to invest more in the infrastructure of America.”

Really saying: We want to raise your taxes so that we can spend more for programs that don’t accomplish anything except to curry favor with our powerful constituencies that help us stay in office.

Govspeaker says: “Education and the future of our children are my top priority.”

Really saying: I know that most public schools are a disaster, but I can’t support any common sense things like school vouchers because I get campaign funds from the teachers’ unions. Besides, my kids attend a private school, so they’ll be just fine.

Govspeaker says: “Congress is determined to reduce spending and to eliminate waste and corruption.”

Really saying: I’m saying this because it sounds good, not because it will ever happen.

Govspeaker says: “The president is evaluating the crisis and is consulting with his top security advisers.”

Really saying: The president is out on the golf course.

Govspeaker says: “The federal government employees in question have been placed on administrative leave.”

Really saying: We don’t actually fire anybody. They just go home for a while and still collect their paychecks.

Govspeaker says: “This is unacceptable.”

Really saying: We say this when we don’t have a more meaningful comment about something bad that has happened.

Govspeaker says: “We must have comprehensive (fill in blank) reform.”

Really saying: By “comprehensive” we mean that every special interest group gets something they want while we in Congress tack on a few billion dollars worth of earmarks for the things that will make us look good to the folks back home.

Govspeaker says: “We are referring this matter to a committee.”

Really saying: You will never hear about it again.

Drew Alexander, also known as “The Curmudgeon,” is a monthly columnist writing about political issues. Send comments to drewalexander@cox.net or to Drew Alexander, in care of Lovin’ Life After 50, 3200 N. Hayden Road, Suite 210, Scottsdale, AZ 85251.

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