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‘The nature of politics is to subtract meaning from language’

“Using vague, slippery or just meaningless language is not the same as lying,”says a political speechwriter.

I can’t say it’s enough to get me to read a book-length memoir by a former speechwriter for former (now disgraced) South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford. But after reading Washington Post book critic Carlos Lozada’s review of “The Speechwriter” by Barton Swaim, who wrote speeches for Sanford, I couldn’t help passing along two lines that capture some of the difference between straight talk and political talk.

First, from Swaim, on the kind of rhetoric we hear from politicians and their spokesters every day:

“Using vague, slippery or just meaningless language is not the same as lying: it’s not intended to deceive so much as to preserve options, buy time, distance oneself from others, or just to sound like you’re saying something instead of nothing.”

Then, even more depressing, from Lozada:

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“The nature of politics is to subtract meaning from language.”