[ Thursday, July 17, 2003 ]

Word count

President Bush only spoke 16 words, so what could that matter?

People cannot say anything that changes society in so few words, right? It’s not like Neil Armstrong spoke for the citizens of all the world when he stated, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." That was only 11 words, so it must have really been irrelevant.

And Dr. Martin Luther King did not define the Civil Rights movement with the words, "I have a dream." Four words ... that’s barely talking at all. Then there is the Bible. That cannot matter because its first line is just a little, bitty sentence: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."

Of course Armstrong did speak for mankind, King did define a cultural movement, and the Bible does matter.

So do Bush’s 16 words.

However, courage-deficient hawks want to dismiss Bush’s likely deception due in part to its shortness. Maybe the most impressive point was that Bush, who sometimes seems to mispronounce at least 16 words in a speech, was able to string together the sentence, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa," during his State of the Union Address.

The point was clear. Bush used the quote to paint a picture of Hussein attempting to restart a nuclear program. Now, it appears the statement was inaccurate at best or a lie at worst.

Supporters rallying around the president now suggest the statement was not a main cause for the war. Somebody would basically have to believe the mentioning of nuclear weapons in the most important annual speech given by anybody on the planet is irrelevant to support that argument.

Bush backers also attempt to brush aside the statement by reducing its value to a word count, as if that is the deciding factor of a comment’s value. "It is 16 words, and it has become an enormously overblown issue," said national security adviser Condoleezza Rice on CNN.

In case Rice was wondering, the United States Constitution Amendment (the 13th) that freed an entire race of people counted less than 50 words - just like the First and Second Amendments.
Dave Sutor [11:04 PM]