Euphemism karma

As I recall, “regime change” first entered the vocabulary back in 1998, when it stood for a stronger position against Saddam’s regime in Iraq than disarmament, essentially promising that post-Gulf War sanctions against Iraq would never be lifted as long as the Saddam Hussein regime remained in power there.

There may have been a whiff of “by any means necessary” at the time but somehow in the run up to this new war the term has apparently picked up a wink-wink nudge-nudge connotation of violent overthrow. That is to say, the antiseptic phrase “regime change” no longer stands for a goal but for a particular means of accomplishing that goal, at least to some.

Thus, when protesters wave signs saying “Regime change begins at home” or John Kerry calls for the regime change here in the U.S., the literal denotation may be on safe ground but in the minds of gung-ho patriots, this semantic judo trick of turning a political opponent’s verbiage on himself smacks of the sin of moral equivalency (now frequently pinned on all who oppose Saddam’s malevolent reign afar and Bush’s reactionary extremism at home).

So when this guy thinks he hears Kerry advocating violent overthrow of the government, we must try to understand the baggage inferred along with the possibly too-clever-by-half rhetorical flourish.

Guess what, our leaders must submit to possible regime change every four years. This is how we do this.

The legislators who took potshots at Clinton during Kosovo and other actions deserve a spanking for their “shocked, shocked” responses this time around.

The aforementioned blogger shut down his comments on the references post as I gather it got into an uncomfortable review of the last, dirty election. Will he let me ping his trackback address?