Legacy of language

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

People from around the world are succumbing to Olympics fever. Which, by the way, you can catch in China even without the Olympics. Whatever you do, do not go near their pigs or birds.

Of course, President Bush hopped on a plane to China, in what seemed like just another ordinary trip for the president - except it's his 134th visit to a foreign country. It's a record! He is now officially our most traveled president in history.

It's a little suspicious, perhaps validating what I've been saying all along - George W. Bush either has a thirst for international knowledge or is a drug mule. I know there's one way to check, but I'm not going there.

Bush also holds the record for the most presidential vacation days, 506 and counting. Between that and the travel days, it's pretty clear that there's something about being at the White House the president cannot stand.

I can't help but think it - I'm sleeping in the same bed where my mom and dad used to do it.

Seeing the president overseas reminds us that he is still president. And that we don't have that much more time with him to fully appreciate all that he's done for us. There's no time like the present to start addressing the damage.

Today, we focus on the president's use of language. Now, we've all heard the jokes about how he stumbles over words and can't pronounce them. Subliminable. Fool me once, can't be fooled, a shame on me ...

Laugh it up, but the truth is, Bush's real contribution to language has been in redefining it.

For instance, when people began suggesting in 2007 that we start leaving Iraq, he said, "What I won't accept is artificial timetables of withdrawal." And he reiterated in June that "setting an artificial timetable would send the wrong message."

No artificial timetables for withdrawal. This is a free-range, organic war. That's why it costs so much.

Then Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki suggested the United States consider getting out in, maybe, the next 16 to 23 months, which the administration thought might be a good idea. In your mind, that might be a timetable. Well, it's not!

"What we want is a kind of aspirational time horizon," clarified Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

See, timelines are dangerous. What we need is a horizon. A withdrawal strategy named after something that, no matter how long you head towards it, you never quite reach. What the administration has learned is that a rose by any other name could be ... anything. It might not even be a flower.

Take, for instance, when the Shiite and Sunni began fighting each other for control of Iraq. You know, brother fighting brother. What was that called again?

"You hear all the time that this may be a civil war. Well, I don't believe it is," Bush said.

Of course you don't believe it is. That would be a horrible thing for us to have caused. This is merely, as Gen. David Petraeus put it, an "ethno-sectarian competition."

I'll tell you what makes a great weekend. Take the kids, load them in the minivan and take them down to one of those ethno-sectarian competition reenactments.

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