2006/10/07

Tony Snow explains Bush's "just a comma" comment

The comma refers to the period of time between last year's election and today. We're talking about — well, the President is making the point is, when you look at a history book, a 10-month period is a comma.
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And I've talked to him about this a number of times. It was simply — what he means is that in the grand sweep of history
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Helen Thomas then points out (quite reasonably, I think): The war is three-and-a-half years old.

MR. SNOW: I know, but notice that "comma" reference was simply referring to the time since — what he really is referring to is the short lifetime so far of the government. Everybody trying to say, ah-ha, and trying to draw conclusions, is it working, isn't it working; do you have confidence in the Prime Minister, do you not? It's 10 months old. It's a government that is still in its infancy and trying to deal with a host of complex and very important issues. So when you take it in the broad sweep of history, and as we look back — you and I probably — well, you may, centuries from now, but I don't think I'm going to last as long as you will, Helen — but the facts is –

What Snow & Thomas disagree on seems pretty clear. Snow is essentially arguing that the "rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic" exercise that was concluded with the installation of the new government of Iraq was a "decisive turning point," much as was the signing of the Iraqi constitution on 8 March 2004:

US President George W Bush called the adoption an "historic milestone"

Or the "turnover of authority to the Iraqi people" on 28 June 2004, which resulted in:

"This is a historical day," Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said. "We feel we are capable of controlling the security situation."

Added Iraqi President Ghazi Al-Yawer: "This is a day we are going to take our country back into the international forum. We'd like to express our thanks to the coalition," Al-Yawer continued. "There is no way to turn back now."

Historic, eh? Funny how nobody celebrated the second anniversaries of these famed and historic days. 22 June 2005, Kofi Annan declared that various international pledges of support given at a conference in Brussels marked a:

"This conference marked a watershed for Iraq," Mr Annan said afterwards.

He said he hoped the long-suffering people of Iraq would "take heart from this strong message of support" and that the declaration would make future challenges "appear a little less daunting"

And of course, there was the 8 June 2006 killing of the head of "al Qaeda in Iraq," Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. British Prime Minister Tony Blair was wary of using the term "turning point." but was suitably enthusiastic:

[It] was a sign of "a new spirit to succeed", said Mr Blair.

"Our task, obviously, is to turn that spirit, that willingness, that desire to succeed into effective action," he said.

"If we are able to do so, then we will have accomplished something that goes far beyond the borders of Iraq."

Further commentary in this particular article demonstrates that the British press is far freer and less corporatized than the American press is by leaps and bounds.

Helen Thomas was correct. The Iraq War is three and a half years old, currently longer even than the US war against Germany. Germany and Italy declared war on the US on 11 December 1941 and VE Day was 8 May 1945, 1244 days. The number of days from 19 March 2003 to 1 October 2006 is 1292 and there's no end in sight.

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