Keith Riler says it has taken some time and work, but Barack Obama has invented a new language. "Obamese" and "Barackish" aren't quite right, so let's call it "Obamish."
Obamish uses English, but it does so to confuse most listeners while really communicating with only a few. Obamish is a language based on lies -- but, when it's effective, it's a language that establishes plausible deniability around the implementation of politically risky, far-left policies. Obamish is an arrogant language, premised on a need-to-know custodial view of the governed. Paul Kengor claims:
Obama and Axelrod are geniuses at coming up with words and phrases that seem vague and benign to the larger population ... but which resonate with a hard left that understands the deeper meaning completely.
The mainstream media is a critical partner in the successful use of Obamish. With the media's collaboration, a "nothing to see here" veneer is applied to the Obama administration's newsworthy birth and development of radical policies.
Only when the president is good and ready is the veil of obfuscation lifted. At that point, it is hoped that the public sees the underlying radical move as an insurmountable fait accompli, not as a wacky, unacceptable, and opposable policy proposal.
Obamish is typically deployed in up to three phases: tip-off, implementation, and revelation. Tip-off is marked by imprecise and often verbose nonsense. The deliberate misdirection of Obamish's tip-offs aims both to signal the base to another policy in motion and to result in minimal reporting of that policy. Obamish's implementation phase is the blatantly dishonest phase, during which it is critical to watch not what the president says, but what he does. Tip-off and implementation are the quiet phases, requiring a collaborative media and recognizable only by Obamish-attuned lefty cognoscenti. Obamish's last phase, revelation, is the go-public phase -- which, if it happens, occurs as a low-key bureaucratic acknowledgement or a major pronouncement.
Four policies provide good Obamish case studies. The president's gay marriage policy is a finished study; the president's restriction of religious freedom and publicly funded abortion goal are two in-process examples; and, finally, the administration's yet-to-be recognized goal of drug legalization shows Obamish in its early stages.
First, Obamish completed -- Obama's gay marriage embrace. This tip-off was marked by the confusing imprecision of the now-famous "evolving" concept:
I have been to this point unwilling to sign on to same-sex marriage primarily because of my understandings of the traditional definitions of marriage. But I also think you're right that attitudes evolve, including mine. - Oct. 2010
My feelings about this are constantly evolving. - Dec. 2010
This is confusing on so many levels. First, sociologists now widely question whether the concept of social evolution has any meaning, or whether its use reveals more about the person applying it (highly likely for the president). Second, biological evolutionary timetables indicate that humans reached behavioral modernity at least 50,000 years ago, making one person's biological "evolution" impossible. Third, Barack Obama favored gay marriage before he was opposed to it, after which he "evolved" to support it:
I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages. - in 1996, running for Illinois State Senate
I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian - for me - for me as a Christian, it is also a sacred union. God's in the mix. - April 2008, running for president
While the tip-off was imprecise, implementation was surgical. Prior to taking a stand, President Obama abandoned the Defense of Marriage Act, opposed California's Proposition 8 marriage amendment, and pursued an aggressive agenda on the international stage.
Revelation came after, with the President's Biden-assisted announcement of his completion of a circuitous evolution and embrace of gay marriage.
Second, Obamish in process -- Obama's attack on the freedom of religion. The president seeks to reduce this longstanding freedom to a "freedom of worship," effectively banishing religiously informed values and opinion from the public square and marketplace. This policy was tipped off over a multi-year period, with a raft of conflicting and verbose nonsense, decipherable only by sympathetic secular warriors:
Hold firm to your faith and allow it to guide you on your journey. Stand as a lighthouse. ... But remember too that the ultimate irony of faith is that it necessarily admits doubt. ... And this doubt should not push us away from our faith. But it should humble us. It should temper our passions, cause us to be wary of too much self-righteousness[.]
And from an earlier speech on the same topic:
Even those who claim the Bible's inerrancy make distinctions between Scriptural edicts, sensing that some passages -- the Ten Commandments, say, or a belief in Christ's divinity -- are central to Christian faith, while others are more culturally specific and may be modified to accommodate modern life. ... Religious leadership need not accept such wisdom in counseling their flocks, but they should recognize this wisdom in their politics.
A veritable ode to relativism. Non-wisdom in flock counseling, but wisdom in politics -- in retrospect, a telling peek at the president's opposition of faith and reason.
While the tip-off consisted of vague polysyllabic ruminations about wisdom, cultural specificity, and tempered passions, implementation was again targeted and specific. The HHS contraception edict and its disdain for the Catholic faith made for the key policy action. However, the administration's favoring the losing side in the Hosanna-Tabor 9-0 smack-down and its shameful attack on a publicly prayerful pro-lifer were additional implementation events.
It is uncertain when the full revelation of this policy will come, as the administration is still hiding behind contraception and a "war on women," suggesting that the president made an error of projection and vastly underestimated the truly religious nature of many voters.
Third, Obamish in process -- ObamaCare's free abortions for all. In the tip-off, President Obama called for abortion to be "safe, legal and rare." This, of course, is confusing. Everyone knows -- make something illegal, make it rare; make it legal, make it common. Note that the president has never advocated that handguns be "safe, legal and rare."
Implementation quietly occurred in March, with an underreported HHS rulemaking decision in which the administration instituted $1-per-month abortions -- a dramatic reduction from the current cost of about $500 per baby.
Recall what happened when the price of cell phones dropped? Rare devices (think the DynaTac 8000x, at $3,995) became ubiquitous (think texting). Like wireless communication, casual sex is pretty popular, making an abortion explosion the predictable and likely result of the president's $1 policy.
"Safe, legal and rare" is still the party line. With pro-life sentiment growing, revelation may be a while in coming.
Finally, early Obamish -- the legalization of drugs. Obama's comment below has all the signs of a tip-off:
"It is entirely legitimate to have a conversation about whether the laws in place are ones that are doing more harm than good in certain places," he said during a morning panel. ... But he quickly added that he feels "legalization is not the answer," arguing that a legal drug trade could be as corrupting in its influence as illegal drug operations. "Nevertheless, I'm a big believer of looking at the evidence, having a big debate," Mr. Obama added.
This policy's implementation is thus far hard to spot, with perhaps the 16% reduction in anti-drug aid to Latin America being an early sign. Nonetheless, drug legalization is a longstanding pet project of the hard left, and Obama is doctrinaire hard left. Given that this imprecise tip-off is true to form, it is reasonable to expect the president to "evolve" on this issue, particularly if re-elected. Look for more implementation and a revelation to follow.
As these examples show, Obamish inverts and perverts communication by design. Whereas normal, good-faith communication informs, acts, and reports back, Obamish acts and occasionally informs, all the while hiding under a liberal overlay of misdirection and dishonesty.
Obamish debases our culture. What Bill Clinton did for fidelity and chastity, Barack Obama is doing for honesty. While some may see clever short-term politics, even tactically minded liberals should admit that Obamish is a bad thing. We must trust our leaders in order to support them, not always be decoding them as they govern against our will. If policies can't stand scrutiny, perhaps they are just bad policies.