The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Just to Clarify, Among Democrats, The Phrase “War on Terror” Is Not Okay, But “Tyranny of Oil” Is Okie-Dokie


I had been going back and forth on whether to address John Edwards’ refusal to use the phrase “global war on terror.” After all, more than a few people on the right have said for a long time that they didn’t like the term because of its unspecificity; they preferred a “war on Islamist extremism” or “war on Islamofascism” or something a bit clearer on naming the enemy. “War on al-Qaeda” would seem to be too narrow, since a non-al-Qaeda group of terrorists could be equally eager to kill Americans.

Anyway, Edwards laid out his thinking to Time:

And now, in his first interview to explain his turnabout, Edwards tells TIME that he will no longer use what he views as “a Bush-created political phrase.”

“This political language has created a frame that is not accurate and that Bush and his gang have used to justify anything they want to do,” Edwards said in a phone interview from Everett, Wash. “It’s been used to justify a whole series of things that are not justifiable, ranging from the war in Iraq, to torture, to violation of the civil liberties of Americans, to illegal spying on Americans. Anyone who speaks out against these things is treated as unpatriotic. I also think it suggests that there’s a fixed enemy that we can defeat with just a military campaign. I just don’t think that’s true.”

But Hillary Spot reader T. brought this to my attention, and I concur — if “war on terror” is unacceptable, then what about phrases like the “tyranny of oil“? (When asked during the debate, Barack Obama did raise his hand to say he believed in a “global war on terror.”)

How’s that for an “inaccurate frame”? (Man, I look forward to the day that our friends on the left stop seeing a George Lakoff linguistic conspiracy everywhere they look.) How will phrases like “tyranny of oil” be used to justify a whole series of things that are not justifiable?

For that matter, doesn’t the phrase “tyranny of oil” suggest that “there’s a fixed enemy that we can defeat with just a military campaign”?

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson


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