If you’ve ever tuned into the raw feed of a political press conference, you might have noticed that the language can feel…arcane? Obtuse? Intentionally obfuscatory? It’s not just you. The press and political spokespeople have evolved a strange sort of trade language that allows them to exchange, or avoid exchanging, actual news in an official briefing that you might otherwise think was nominally created for that purpose. And if you really want to see this kind of dialogue in action, you should check out spokespeople talking about defense and the military.
So that’s what makes a recent string of Tweets from Phil Ewing, an experienced defense reporter now writing for Politico, so great. With the internet still on fire thanks to the new Star Wars trailer, Ewing started tweeting about the defense spending policies and priorities of the Imperial Starfleet—the star destroyer-flying, snowtrooper-deploying, Death Star-building, Alderaan-destroying bad guys of the Star Wars universe. Imagine if Grand Moff Tarkin had a publicist.
The results were magical, a Dark Side skewing of both the weird ways the Empire prosecuted its war against the Rebellion, and the language crimes policymakers and their mouthpieces commit when they talk about the hard truths (and sometimes lies) of budgets and war.