Thursday, February 15, 2007

It means I’m trying to protect our troops

Some additional points about Bush’s press conference:

Language Log’s Benjamin Zimmer points out that Bush used the term “Democrat” in its insulting sense three times (Democrat leadership, Democrat senators, Democrat members).

Dana Milbank points out that Bush used the phrase “I believe” no fewer than 18 times (Among others: “I believe that success in Baghdad will have success in helping us secure the homeland,” “I believe an Iran with a nuclear weapon would be very dangerous for world peace,” and the somewhat contradictory “I believe Iran is an unbelievably vital nation.”) He also used “in other words” eleven times; the frequency of that one has been steadily increasing for a while now.

Bush said that people could disagree with his Iraq policy and still be “as patriotic a person as I am.” That is, he added, as long as they don’t actually act in any way on their beliefs, and do, in fact, act exactly the same way they would if they thought he was a veritable tactical genius: “Can somebody say, ‘we disagree with your tactics or strategy, but we support the military’ -- absolutely, sure. But what’s going to be interesting is if they don’t provide the flexibility and support for our troops that are there to enforce the strategy that David Petraeus, the general on the ground, thinks is necessary to accomplish the mission.” Wouldn’t a better definition of patriot be someone who actively opposed a policy they considered disastrous?

Another much-repeated phrase, in discussing alleged Iranian explosive devices in Iraq, was the need to “protect our troops” (seven times). But he specifically denied manufacturing evidence in pursuit of a war with Iran: “Now David says, does this mean you’re trying to have a pretext for war? No. It means I’m trying to protect our troops.” But he’s spent the last five plus years telling us that self-protection must be preemptive: fighting them over there, smoking gun in the form of a mushroom cloud, Bush Doctrine, lessons of 9/11, etcetera etcetera.

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