This editorial appeared in the Charleston Gazette-Mail on Jan. 7:
A man little known for dexterity, Gov. Jim Justice has proved a relentless rhetorical contortionist, harumphing out of both sides of his mouth while producing his own brand of Doublethink, only not so cleverly Orwellian.
Said Gov. Jim in mid-November, speaking in pandemic-induced isolation from reporters observing via Zoom conference call: “I am calling for all business owners and managers in West Virginia to step up and make sure that everyone, everyone in these businesses, is wearing a face covering all the time inside these businesses.”
If business owners and managers ignored this call, Gov. Jim warned, “we’re going to end up having to take further steps because we will not be able to slow this thing down and stop it. The next steps will have to be closure.”
Except in the case of The Greenbrier, “America’s Resort” and also Big Jim’s, and, as it turns out, Party Central for the well-heeled.
The lavish resort located in White Sulphur Springs, owned by the governor and operated by his daughter, Jill, stirred ire across the state and country when a video of the joint’s New Year’s Eve bash showed revelers without masks and forgoing so-called social distancing guidelines.
Asked about this Monday, once more speaking in pandemic-induced isolation from reporters observing via Zoom conference call, the governor was incredulous. It was clearly, he said, “a political hit” on him.
“I’ve been asked this question now three times, where we’re putting emphasis on something at The Greenbrier hotel because I own it.”
Well, yes. That would be precisely the point, governor. You own it.
Harrumphing from another side of his mouth, Gov. Jim declared: “I’m not going to apologize to you for employing 1,500 people there. ... Would it make you happy to say, ‘What we really ought to do is just close it.’ Is that what you want?”
Recall the warning from mid-November: “The next steps will have to be closure.”
What? Someone thought that applied to the governor’s businesses, too?
Doublethink was defined in George Orwell’s classic novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four” as, among other things, holding “simultaneously two opinions which canceled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them.”
It seems fitting to place the governor in his own category of this process of indoctrination. Call it Jimbothink. This process naturally gives way to Jimbospeak, a variant of the Orwellian-inspired term “Doublespeak.”
Jimbospeak is the apropos definition applicable whenever the governor tells us two opposite things, harrumphing from both sides of his mouth, demanding to be believed in both cases or, as Orwell, explained of Doublethink, “to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again.”
Understanding Jimbothink helps one understand how Gov. Jim can at once be serious about responding to a killer virus and then not serious, insisting that constituents simply believe he is whatever they prefer him to be or whichever is thought the better of the two.
This makes clear the answers to questions swinging from opposite sides of the political pendulum. Is the governor taking serious action to halt the spread of the virus? Yes! Does the governor think actions to combat the virus are too severe? Yes! He is the amoeba-governor. He is whatever one wants him to be, so long as one never doubts him in any shape, form or fashion.
We understand Jimbothink, and are becoming steadily more fluent in Jimbospeak. But we shall always prefer Truth, not his version of it but the real thing in unvarnished form.