When former President George W. Bush used the phrase “axis of evil” in his January 29, 2002 State of the Union address, I shook my head in pain. It was at that moment that Mr. Bush started the downward slide into losing his presidency. Mr. Bush turned the worse mass murder in American history into a global assault on terrorism. He did it with one word: war.
Americans took the bait and instead of pursuing these stateless perpetrators as criminals, we pursued them as “enemy combatants“. One word, combined with a little John Wayne swagger, allowed us to replace the law enforcement with military force.
This mistake is often overlooked when analyzing the Bush administration‘s decision to send troops to the Middle East. We may be overlooking another misuse of verbiage, this time by President Barack Obama.
In his speech yesterday from the Oval Office, Mr. Obama referred to British Petroleum’s oil leak as an “assault” on American shores. Is it really an assault? Where is the bad mind or intent? BP did not intend to cause harm. Sure, I would agree with the argument that the oil leak amounts to a nuisance; a very big nuisance. But assault, especially when couched in militaristic terms, this was not.
Unfortunately, this is one of the downsides of partisan politics, and trust me, the BP oil leak is being politicized by the right and the left. Mr. Obama is moving slowly but surely into campaign mode. Mid-terms are approaching. A couple Republicans, including Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, are already testing the waters for a 2012 presidential bid. What better way to unite and energize a broad base of Americans than on the theory that our shores are under attack.