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Columnists

Say What You Mean. Mean What You Say

Circumlocution is one of those SAT words that I use to describe the rhetorical strategy employed by many who choose to “baffle you with b******t when they can’t dazzle you with brilliance.” Defined as “the use of many words where fewer would do, especially in a deliberate attempt to be vague or evasive,” it is more genteel than ‘lying’ but definitely not as honorable as ‘honesty’. The listener drowns in blather while the speaker basks in his or her verbosity, yet nothing actually is said.

This inability and/or unwillingness of politicians to address relatively simple questions directly is infuriating at best and insulting at worst.

I will not waste my time on donald trump here. Nikki Haley, on the other hand, asserted that she was the better candidate, not only because she is younger but because she does not shy away from a challenge and addresses the issues forthrightly.

Okay, she’s younger.

During the New Hampshire primary campaign, Haley was asked the cause of the Civil War. Any eighth grader would know the answer. Instead, Haley delayed her response, all the while framing an answer in her head. She quipped, “well, don’t come with an easy question.” Finally, “I think the cause of the Civil War was basically how government was going to run, the freedoms and what people could and couldn’t do.” Like own other people?

Then she turned on her questioner. Classic ad hominem distraction. “What do you think the cause of the Civil War was?” she asked. He replied that he was not running for president and wished to hear her thoughts. Her answer? “I think it always comes down to the role of government and what the rights of the people are.” This from the governor of the first state to secede from the Union. His response? “In the year 2023, it’s astonishing to me that you answer that question without mentioning the word ‘slavery.’”

Haley supporters quickly pointed out that she was instrumental in lowering the Confederate flag from the statehouse rotunda, where it had flown, by law, since 1961. Her act followed Dylann Roof’s murder of nine Black members of the Bible study group of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church on June 17, 2015. Haley was elected in 2010. Coincidence or exploitation?

In a further disingenuous attempt to reconcile slavery and the Confederacy, she wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that the flag was “a symbol of slavery, discrimination, and hate for many people,” but she “know[s] too many good people in South Carolina who think differently about the flag but who are not the least bit racist.” An eerie echo of trump in Charlottesville.

As if that weren’t bad enough, the Alabama Supreme Court recently ruled that frozen embryos are children, and people can be held legally responsible for destroying them. This stems from two lawsuits filed by three sets of parents whose frozen embryos were destroyed by an intruder in the cryogenic nursery where they were stored in 2020.

The parents sued for wrongful death but were denied by a lower court. The state Supreme Court reversed that ruling, maintaining that the embryos were protected under Alabama’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act. Moreover, Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Parker, who wrote the majority opinion, asserted, “human life cannot be wrongfully destroyed without incurring the wrath of a holy God.”

The Pandora’s box of medical, legal, and ethical ramifications are myriad.

When asked by NBC News if she agreed that embryos are children, Haley responded: “Embryos, to me, are babies.” Bringing up her own infertility issues, she distinguished between artificial insemination and IVF. “But when you talk about an embryo, you are talking about, to me, that’s a life. So, I do see where that’s coming from when they talk about that.” Later that evening, in an interview on CNN’s ‘King Charles’, Haley denied that she had ever “agreed” with the decision. “What the question that I was asked is, ‘Do I believe an embryo is a baby?’ I do think that if you look in the definition, an embryo is considered an unborn baby,” Haley said.

No, Nikki. If you look up the definition of embryo, this is what you will learn:“The embryonic stage reveals that the fertilized egg is a clump of cells with no brain; the processes that begin to generate a nervous system do not begin until after the fourteenth day. No sustainable or complex nervous system is in place until approximately six months of gestation.”

Moreover, if you can “see where they’re coming from” regarding embryos, then you fundamentally agree with their decision. Her silence regarding Parker’s patently religious language is deafening.

For politicians, this obfuscation is deliberate. Convoluted language and alternate facts seduce voters and are a calculated threat to democracy.

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