Amid the Sunday uproar over The New York Times' report on a secret intelligence report labeling the war in Iraq an answer to anti-U.S. terrorists' prayers, CNN aired a portion of an interview with President Bush conducted by Wolf Blitzer earlier in the week.Strange as it sounds, Bush's "comma" reference seems to have a very specific meaning, according to Ian Welsh in The Agonist.
In a report here at E&P, we observed that in this exchange, Blitzer asked about the latest setbacks in Iraq and indications that civil war may be at hand. Bush, with a slight smile, replied, "Yes, you see — you see it on TV, and that’s the power of an enemy that is willing to kill innocent people. But there’s also an unbelievable will and resiliency by the Iraqi people…. 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."
A lot of people have been slamming Bush for his comment that Iraq is "just a comma". As an e-mail correspondent pointed out, this is another case where Bush is using code words to speak directly to his Christian right base.It's what Welsh calls "dog whistle politics" -- talking to the base in code only they hear, while the rest of us just think it's another bizarre "Bushism."
The phrase is: "Never put a period where God has put a comma." Which is to say - it ain't over yet, and God may well make it better. So Iraq's bad, but if we trust in God, he'll make it better.
In other words, Bush's weird sense of serenity as everything goes to hell around him is based on the knowledge that Iraq isn't a period, it's just a comma. In God's plan, it's all going to turn out great and Bush is going to go down in history (for posterity, if not for today's whiners and negative thinkers) as a great president because he has the guts to go ahead and finish the job by overthrowing those crazy, terroristic mullahs in Iran and finally reshaping the entire Middle East. Once we have the new Iranian government in place, everything will be fine and today's little unpleasantness in Iraq will just be a distant memory.
And when would that be? In the Huffington Post, Gary Hart predicts an attack on Iran will be the "October Surprise" that takes place before the November election.
I doubt it. Starting another war just before the election sounds too risky (for the Republicans). It might work. But it also might not. They're not going to do anything that risks losing control of Congress. Besides, if you're trying to win an election, why use bombers when Diebold voting machines are perfectly capable of doing the job?
No need for an "October Surprise" -- Bush knows there's no hurry. He can easily wait a bit, give the UN stuff a little more time to play itself out, and then launch the cruise missiles.
Prepare for a "November Surprise" instead -- a few weeks after the election. Give the new Congress a fait accompli to think about, and what will probably be an ongoing war by the time they take office in January.
Bush knows everything will be fine. He's working his way through the commas and approaching the end of the sentence. He's the democracy-bringer, and he's doing God's will.