Thursday, October 05, 2006

Celebrations and Punctuation Marks

Some generals fight the last war; some senators appropriate funds to celebrate the last war. The New York Times reports that Senator Mitch McConnell has raised his hand as the author of the $20 million line item to pay for celebrations of victory in Iraq and Afghanistan:
The office of the Republican whip, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, acknowledged that he had pushed the bill out of lingering anger that Vietnam veterans had to “sneak back” home after that war and out of a desire that this generation of troops be thanked.
Mr. McConnell sponsored language in last year’s military spending bill, which authorized up to $20 million for a “commemoration of success” in Washington saluting the end of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. No money was set aside or used because fighting continues.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that President Bush is going around the country comparing the mess in Iraq to a punctuation mark:
As he heads out on the campaign trail, haunted by an unpopular war, President Bush has begun reassuring audiences that this traumatic period in Iraq will be seen as "just a comma" in the history books. By that, aides say, he means to reinforce his message of resolve in the long struggle for Iraqi democracy.
...
Bush used [the phrase] in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer aired on Sept. 24 in talking about Iraq. He noted the bloodshed shown on television but hailed the resiliency of the Iraqi people and cited the election last December in which 12 million came to the polls despite the violence.
"Admittedly, it seems like a decade ago," Bush went on. "I like to tell people when the final history is written on Iraq, it will look like just a comma because there is -- my point is, there's a strong will for democracy." The president used a similar line at a campaign event last week in Alabama and again on Tuesday in Stockton, Calif.
Critics are deconstructing the phrase to find a hint of religious overtones:
And a lively Internet debate has broken out about the origins of the phrase, with some speculating that Bush means it as a coded message to religious supporters, evoking the aphorism "Never put a period where God has put a comma."
Whether or not the phrase is meant to have religious overtones, Bush has not been shy to speak of the war in Iraq in grand historical terms.
With our president fixated on a glorious future, and Senator McConnell fixated on the inglorous past, one has to wonder: Who's minding the store?

2 Comments:

Blogger catbird said...

If he wants to play the punctuative simile game, here's my submission: Iraq is like an ellipsis.

Ellipsis

An ellipsis can also be used to indicate a pause in speech, an unfinished thought or, at the end of a sentence, a trailing off into silence.

Ellipsis in writing

The use of ellipses can either mislead or clarify, and the reader must rely on the good intentions of the writer who uses it. An example of this ambiguity is “She went to... school.” In this sentence, “...” might represent the word “elementary”, or the word “no”. Omission without indication by an ellipsis is always considered misleading.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

And then there's the sin of omission...

11:11 AM, October 05, 2006  
Blogger Lefty said...

so did he do it because he wanted people to know it was him, or because he knew it was only a matter of time until the rest of us figured it out?

5:11 PM, October 05, 2006  

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