The principal principle principle

Lately, I have noticed a disturbing trend in the language of the prime minister and his henchthingies. You know, the new-but-rapidly-aging trick with which, faced with any old screwup of their own making, they contrive to still appear (heh...) right, because their stand is based on "Principles".

This phrase is uttered in tones of finality. The kind that suggest that all things the PM labels as "Principles" cannot, must not, be questioned. By anybody. Because it's, you know, a Principle. Therefore Unassailable.

To the PM's fans, the term also implies pleasing undertones of moral discourse. Therefore even more Unassailable. One never negotiates Morality.

In a short time, the trick has become a trope, the new lazy-ass-all-purpose spin management tool over at the PMO. Splop a few random "Principles" into the speaking points on everything very arguably sketchy and/or dumb and, hey, presto, all butts are completely wallpapered clear up to the ethical ceiling. Which at this juncture, is, ummm, low.

My Oxford Big Word Thingy, Canine Ed.©®™, is an admirably clear (and massive) reference, but with two-odd dense pages of alternative definitions for "principle" ya know there's plenty of room for creative (and handy) misinterpretation.

Avowed principles - especially in politics, and especially among recent ruling parties, are not necessarily fundamental or immutable, or even true. They are ideas upon which policies are based. Sometimes pretty bad ideas. Even rotten ones. If you have a minute, you could look up "rotten" in the Oxford Big Word Thingy, Canine Ed.©®™.

I could, of course, have gotten all of this deplorably wrong. I am semimythically canine and fallible.

The prime minister could - and maybe would - logically argue that his principles can't be wrong. Because he has none left.


zoom said...

It's like the Republicans staking their claim on 'family values.' Since they were for family values, the Democrats, by default, must be against them. The Democrats couldn't touch family values without looking like they were attacking the very fabric of American society. And it was so easy for the average American joe to say yeah, family values is something I can get behind, so I must be Republican. He probably never even thought about what 'family values' means, or how it can mean different things to different people, or how the Republican version of family values excluded gay families, single-parent families, low-income families, and all families that were in some way non-traditional. He was a good family man, therefore he believed in family values, therefore he was voting Republican.

Same principle, right?

coyote said...

I think so. I have the nagging feeling that some kinda circular (il)logic ties into it, too. But I can't quite put my paw on it. Darned doggy ADD, anyway...