Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Breaking the Bush-Obama Language Barrier

Ten days ago, Barack Obama said this about Pakistan: “If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will.”

He was pooh-poohed by Tony Snow and called naïve, dangerous and irresponsible by candidates of both parties. Mitt Romney said, “He’s gone from Jane Fonda to Dr. Strangelove in one week.”

Today President Bush, asked what he would do in Pakistan, answered: “I'm confident that with actionable intelligence we will be able to bring top Al-Qaeda to justice. We're in constant communications with the Pakistan government...And I'm confident, with real, actionable intelligence, we will get the job done.”

There is no daylight between these two answers except that Bush is taking Musharraf’s acquiescence for granted and is ducking the possibility that he “won’t act.”

But two week ago, his homeland security adviser Frances Townsend didn’t. She told Fox News that, beyond working with Musharraf, we were ready to take additional measures.
"Just because we don't speak about things publicly doesn't mean we're not doing things you talk about," Townsend said, when asked why the U.S. does not conduct special operations and other measures to cripple Al Qaeda. "Job No. 1 is to protect the American people. There are no options off the table...No question that we will use any instrument at our disposal."

A week earlier she expressed “frustration” with Musharraf to the New York Times, which reported that “there was growing concern that pinprick attacks against Al Qaeda targets are not enough, but that some new American measures might have to remain secret to avoid embarrassing General Musharraf.”

So Bush’s policy, translated from Texan, is that, if Musharraf won’t act, we will. He just uses more words than Obama.

If Jane Fonda won’t explain all this to Mitt Romney, maybe some Administration Dr. Strangelove will.

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