National Conversations:

Althouse criticizes what she calls the Orwellian use of “conversation” in current national debates:

Man, “conversation” has become one of those Orwellian words. There it is in Obama’s NYT interview, where he’s saying something that invites the relabeling that Sarah Palin so effectively slapped on it — “death panels” …

“I think that there is going to have to be a conversation that is guided by doctors, scientists, ethicists. And then there is going to have to be a very difficult democratic conversation that takes place.” [President Obama]

Conversations! Damn! As if the government does not have power! Oh, but it’s “not determinative,” you say. It’s just “some guidance.” He said that, see? Ugh! Spare me! We’re right to be afraid now, while the man is burbling about conversation. You know damned well he’s about to say and now the time for conversation is over, and we must pass legislation. Before, he was all quick, shut up, it’s an emergency, pass the legislation. People freaked, so then he deemed the period of freakage part of the conversation, and there, it has occurred, and now: shut up, pass the legislation.

This makes me recall – perhaps not too surprisingly – a bit of a book review I wrote in the TLS in the 1990s of Hillary Clinton’s It Takes a Village, which also begins by calling for a … conversation:

Clinton begins by saying that “whether or not you agree with me, I hope it promotes an
honest conversation among us”. It is quickly evident, however, that she intends a
conversation with the parents of America in much the same way that my mother, when I was
a child, intended many conversations with me – the conversation was not “honest” or “over”
until I came to agree with her.