rhetorical pabulum

The Evolution of Language (Americopolitik Mix)

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA)

Three paragraphs. Actually, the rest of Betsy Woodruff’s article for Slate would be hilarious as long as we account for the modifier, “morbidly”.

If there is one issue that will creep into everything that happens on Capitol Hill right now, it is immigration. Whether you’re interested in spending, national security, the next attorney general, or the 2016 presidential contest, immigration will be deeply involved. And where there’s talk of immigration, there’s talk of amnesty. When Republicans use that term—and, for the most part, only Republicans use it—the word is typically shorthand for “bad immigration policy.” Asking if a Republican supports amnesty is akin to asking if someone is beating his or her spouse; it’s a loaded term, and the correct answer is always no. For conservatives, amnesty is bad. Nobody likes amnesty.

But there’s a hitch: Some of the top legislators who frequently use the term can’t actually explain what amnesty is. I spent the past few days asking Republican senators what they meant when they referred to amnesty in terms of immigration policy. The answers I got were intriguing. That’s because while Republican congressional leaders are always eager to discuss their opposition to this vague, amorphous concept, many of them are downright befuddled when asked to explain what that concept looks like in real life. Their responses ranged from straightforward to nonsensical.

When I asked Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Georgia Republican, what specific immigration policies he was referring to when he used the term amnesty, he said, “I don’t understand the question.”

It is a vaudeville routine: What do you mean what do I mean?

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) might win the prize, though: “I think trying to talk about specific definitions that happen in a framework where nothing is working to conclusion is just not a very good way to spend time.”

(more…)