Doublespeak, whether intentional or unintentional is communication that is obscure, pompous, vague, evasive and confusing. () In most instances, doublespeak tries to achieve a particular objective as is the case in President Bushs address to the nation on September 11, after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. The objective of this speech is clearly to mollify the emotions of a frightened nation and at the same time set the tone for what is to come as a result of the attacks. In this speech one can find many examples of doublespeak.
These examples seem to be intentional although they defy typical doublespeak in that the doublespeak is not intended for any personal gains and is not concealed with a lot of convoluted language. If one can understand some of the basic principles about making sense of media-speak then the domino effect of this type of speech can be reduced. One of the first statements President Bush makes in his speech can be classified as doublespeak. When he says Our way of life, our very freedom came under attack, he is indirectly saying that everything Americans are accustomed to and enjoy is at stake.
With these simple words and the tone chosen to deliver them President Bush is strategically taking the emotions of the American people for a ride while making it clear that the American people are his target audience. An important principle for properly deciphering this instance of doublespeak is to unload first responses and get them out in the open so the rest of the message can be received clearly and unobstructed by inner thoughts. Other examples of doublespeak that fit into the same category as the previous one are when President Bush uses the phrases, Foundation of America and Steel of American Resolve.
Both of these examples attempt to evoke an emotional response although, the emotions attempting to be extracted are different from those in the beginning of the speech. They differ because they set the tone for new offensive and secure feelings opposed to the original feelings of defense and endangerment. This example also illustrates how obscure doublespeak can be. President Bush regards the attacks as despicable and evil acts. The word evil is the doublespeak in this example. The way he uses this word automatically stereotypes America positively and others negatively.
This type of stereotyping is bad because it can chip away at how millions of people perceive millions of other people. () The use of the word evil also takes the terrorist acts slightly out of a political perspective and places it into a religious one. This change of placement could possibly evoke even stronger emotional reactions from some of the audience. This example of doublespeak was the transitional device President Bush used to alter the direction of his speech from what was fact to what might be to come.
President Bush addressed his point of view about why America was attacked and reassured its citizens that America would not be changed through the use of more doublespeak. He begins his transition by calling America The brightest beacon for freedom. He continues by saying that No one will keep that light from shining. The way President Bush phrases his ideas in this example are common practices of doublespeak. To be able to properly navigate through this type of doublespeak one needs to be able to know how to demystify metaphors.
Metaphors are most often used when one is trying to express strong feelings and influence how an audience interprets a message. The danger posed by not understanding metaphors is that often times they are not recognizable and cause conflict for a receiver to comprehend a message. In this case the metaphor was explaining how big America is and that nobody will be able to conquer it. If one did not know how to decipher this metaphor the message might be lost causing confusion. It is this type of confusion that often directly advances the intentions of doublespeak. Similar to metaphorical examples of doublespeak are long story style methods.
President Bush needs to seek the support of his nation and the world to back his possible coming actions. He says, All those who want peace and security in the worldstand together to win the war against terrorism. This statement is an oxymoron and is certainly doublespeak. The words peace and security are blanketing the overall message that the nation is about to go to war through means of a small sequential story. President Bush calmly narrates the story of what pleasant events took place with different leaders from around the world throughout the day and casually inserts his underlying message about war.
One must be able to slip past the seductions of a story to break the code of doublespeak in this type of example by bringing in personal opinions and background information to be certain the story is not false. Immediately after President Bush slid his underlying message into the story he changed the audiences point of focus. President Bush quickly changes the focus of his audience from his message of war to children whose worlds have been shattered. This quote used as shift in the audiences attention is an example of doublespeak in itself.
President Bush swings the audiences attention yet another time by swiftly returning to his second underlying message of religion when he says Be comforted by a power greater than any of us and I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Although it is not specified which religion is getting referenced, the quotations are common knowledge to many and to others could be looked at as puffed up language causing for the quotes to be doublespeak. President Bush changes the focus of his audience with doublespeak one final time from his underlying messages in the conclusion of his speech.
Using doublespeak once again he says Americans are from every walk of life and that we must unite in our resolve for justice and peace. These phrases are parallel to President Bushs overlying and underlying themes and are also characteristic of doublespeak. He expresses that Americans are from different cultures and backgrounds and everyone must settle their differences and come together to fight in order to achieve our common goals. President Bush ends his speech with a reinforcement of his underlying message about war and leaves the audience feeling as though they must defend freedom.