The National Republican Congressional Committee has been trying to rewrite a little history. Once they found out the phrase “social security privatization” was not playing well with voters, they decided it was not their own policy label after all, but rather a piece of inaccurate Democrat spin. Joshua Marshall has the relevant background.
If you needed an excuse to reread “Politics and the English Language”, here it is. As Orwell says in that essay:
In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. … Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them.
So it is on a smaller, but still important, scale with “personal accounts” vs “privatization.” The NRCC go a step further than Orwell. Euphemizing your own clear language in order to blur your intentions is bad enough. To then insist that your own original words were invented by your political opponents in order to discredit you is, in Ramesh Ponnuru’s words, “a piece of brazen historical revisionism.”