[[L A B E L S]] * With 27 more Americans having lost their lives in combat in Iraq just this week, the Bush administration is suddenly flip-flopping on its previous determination to rebrand the “War on Terror” as the “Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism.” George W. Bush, taking a much-needed break yesterday from his overextended summer vacation, indicated in a speech to the American Legislative Exchange Council in Grapevine, Texas, that his subordinates had erred in that new phraseology. “Make no mistake,” Bush declared, “we are at war.”
As reported in today’s edition of The New York Times, “administration officials became concerned when some news reports linked the change in language to signals of a shift in policy.” But of course, that wasn’t actually the concern of anybody living in “reality-based” America. The real problem, as those of us outside the White House echo chamber see it, is that this semantic swing didn’t indicate a dramatic shift in the policies that have turned Iraq into a bloody quagmire.
ADDENDUM: A new CBS News poll finds that while Americans remain seriously divided on their opinions of Bush’s Iraq war, they’re much more united in their interest in the widening CIA leak scandal. Forty-one percent of respondents said they view this matter, which is already under investigation by an independent counsel, as of “great importance” to the nation--a larger percentage than said the same thing about the Whitewater brouhaha in its early days, and approximately the same percentage of folks who thought, in the spring of 1987, that Ronald Reagan’s Iran-Contra scandal was significant. According to a CBS news release, “Fifty-seven percent of Republicans think the administration is hiding something or lying--although 28 percent think it is telling the entire truth. Democrats are much more skeptical.” Whether the public maintains its focus on this scandal may well depend on what becomes of yet another political outrage: allegations, reported in the September issue of Vanity Fair, that U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois) took “covert payments” from Turkish nationals during the 1990s, in exchange for “political favors.” Stay tuned.