We all know of the Left’s obsession with euphemisms — words and phrases that are deemed less blunt than others and therefore less likely to hurt a fellow snowflake’s feelings. Some of these coinages, like man-caused disaster, which was dreamed up by Obama DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano as an alternative to “terrorist attack,” failed to gain widespread acceptance, while others — like undocumented worker, a misnomer for “illegal alien” — did.
Yesterday, during the daily White House press briefing, a somewhat tense exchange over a particular word choice occurred between Press Secretary Jen Psaki and Fox News reporter Peter Doocy. The word in question was stranded. A video of the back-and-forth follows, along with a transcript.
Peter Doocy: But does the President have a sense that most of the criticism is not of leaving Afghanistan, it’s the way that he has ordered it to happen, by pulling the troops before getting these Americans who are now stranded? Does he have a sense of that?
Jen Psaki: First of all, I think it’s irresponsible to say Americans are stranded, they are not. We are committed to bringing Americans who want to come home home. We are in touch with them via phone, via text, via email, via any way that we can possibly reach Americans to get them home if they want to return home.
Doocy: “There are no Americans stranded” is the White House’s official position on what’s happening in Afghanistan right now?
Psaki: I’m just calling you out for saying that we are stranding Americans in Afghanistan when I said — when we have been very clear that we are not leaving Americans who want to return home, we are going to bring them home and I think that’s important for the American public to hear and understand.
No one is questioning that the administration is “committed to bringing Americans who want to come home home,” as Psaki so artfully put it. The reality, however, is that the U.S. government can’t bring Americans who want to come home home at present because the country is under the control of the Taliban, which has the unilateral decision on who can go. Many Americans can’t get to the airport, and those who manage to penetrate the fortress-like structure are often unable to board flights.
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In other words, they are stranded, which is defined as “left without the means to move from somewhere.” Which part of that definition does Psaki think is inapplicable to the current situation? To those who lack Psaki’s sensitivity, the word sounds like a perfect description of the situation on the ground in Afghanistan. On Aug. 20, J.E. Dyer wrote:
A major crisis, one of the biggest in decades, is ongoing in Afghanistan. Thousands of Americans are stranded in the country, unable to get to the international airport where the U.S. military is efficiently pushing out half-full flights, because that’s what it can do with the tools it’s been given. [Emphasis added]
A day earlier Ben Bowles used it in a post critical of Joe Biden’s attempts to change the subject:
So what if thousands of Americans are stranded in Afghanistan, which is now in the hands of the enemy? Why bother with videos of desperate Afghans plunging to their deaths from the wings of U.S. military aircraft that have just taken off? [Emphasis added]