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Latest Obama era language edict: 'Drug war' dies, like 'war on terror'

May 15, 2009 | 12:48 am

The Democratic Barack Obama administration's new drug czar Gil Kerlikowske at his swearing-in with Vice President Joe Biden

Just a quick Obama Era Language Update and review for you. So you don't say anything politically out of line over the weekend. And end up getting Rick Wagonered or something.

OELUs (pronounced oelus) are a relatively new phenomenon in this country. They began emerging shortly after Jan. 20 to help depict change to believe in. Because, you know, words have meaning. And consequences.

For instance, we used to have "toxic assets," which were real estate properties worth much less than everyone pretended during the EOS (Era of Speculation). These properties have been renamed "legacy assets," meaning real estate properties worth much less than everyone pretended during the EOS but now we're trying to sell them. As in "pre-owned cars."

We used to have the "war on terror," which got its name from the fact that terrorists were killing people and we were killing terrorists, historical activities previously associated with "wars" involving people killing each other.

A variant of "war on terror" was "global war on terror," often used to help convince other nationalities on the globe to join the conflict because things in Bali, Madrid and London had developed a way of blowing up unexpectedly.

These phrases are out now because war is not good or popular. Talking is less violent. And it's another way to differentiate the Obama Change Crowd from the EBG (Evil Bush Gang). Today, the war on terror has become an "overseas contingency operation" (OCO).

Also, acts of terror are no longer acts of terror. They are "man-caused disasters," according to Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano, who happens to be a member of the gender not covered by that term.

The newest change involves the war on drugs, so called because for many years now people have been killing each other or themselves over or with illegal drugs. (See "war on terror" above.)

But now the drug war is gone. Poof. Finito. Just like that.

Obama's new drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, Seattle's ex-police chief, finds the words "drug war" too bellicose ("warlike in manner") for his tastes.

"Regardless of how you try to explain to people," Kerlikowske tried to explain to the Wall Street Journal people,"it's a 'war on drugs' or a 'war on a product.' People see a war as a war on them. We're not at war with people in this country."

Indications are the Obama administration intends to deal with the illegal drug situation as a public health issue requiring treatment more than enforcement. So, look for vaccinations against drive-by shootings and muggings.

Also, remember that surge of thousands of U.S. troops into Iraq by President Bush that Sen. Obama said would never work? Well, just so you know, the new surge of thousands of U.S. troops into Afghanistan ordered by President Obama is not really a surge. It's a bolstering. An increase. Wouldn't want any Ticket readers to be caught out.

We'll try to keep you posted on other linguistic developments on the politics front. (Oh, wait, that's kind of a combat term.) We'll keep you posted on linguistic developments involving the discussion of politics and language issues related thereto.

— Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Chris Kleponis / AFP / Getty Images (Kerlikowske with VP Biden, who invented the term "drug czar" when it was a war on drugs).

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