President Bush made a simple but unfortunate mis-statment on Thursday that will haunt him in the press and on late-night T.V. talk shows for weeks to come. But what he said is not near as amazing as the blatant twists put on it by big news media to make it even more direct and daunting than it was.
Here’s what he is quoted as saying:
“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” (as quoted by Reuters in Yahoo! News)
His apparent intent was to allude to our country’s own innovativeness and resourcefulness, but he confused the referents of the second statement with the subject of the first. — Rob Stewart
—Bushisms and Media-isms (Snippets: Rob Stweart’s Blog)
Yes, that’s an awkward claim. As Rob suggests, this will be added to the collection of amusing Bush mis-statements. But if Bush’s opponents sieze on this statement to insist that “thinking of new ways to harm our country” is the same thing as “Bush wants to harm our country in new ways,” then our political discourse has descended to the level of grammar flaming. I hope that won’t happen.
I remember in the fifth grade a student gave a speech where she claimed she “believed in freedom and in justice for all.” That was a gaffe, and my friend Ron and I laughed about it to ourselves (after her speech was over) but I never for a moment thought she really believed in “injustice for all”.
Although Bush’s statement was awkward, I don’t think it was a grammatical mistake. Hijacking passenger liners and using them as piloted bombs was indeed innovative and resourceful. Regardless of who is in power in the White House, if anti-terrorism forces don’t spend a lot of time and energy thinking about other creative ways of being destructive, we will be defenseless. Thus, we must think of new ways to harm the US, so that we can protect the US.
Still, “and we never stop thinking of ways to protect ourselves,” would have been much better.
Boston.com buries the “neither do we” comment at the bottom of an article praising Bush’s recent attempts at impromptu humor — though he made the terrorism gaffe in a prepared speech.