Vice President Cheney was heavily criticized as "out of touch," when he said in a May 31 CNN interview that the Iraqi insurgency was in "the last throes."
He returned to CNN on June 23 to clarify his comments.
"If you look at what the dictionary says about throes, it can still be a violent period, the throes of a revolution." Cheney told Wolf Blitzer. "The point would be that the conflict will be intense, but it's intense because the terrorists understand if we're successful at accomplishing our objective — standing up a democracy in Iraq — that that's a huge defeat for them. They'll do everything they can to stop it."
So there you have it. He wasn't suggesting that the insurgency was diminishing — as was widely interpreted, even by his defenders. He was just saying that it was almost over. Right, Dick?
BLITZER: Do you want to offer an assessment how much longer this insurgency will continue?
CHENEY: No. No, I can't say that. ...
BLITZER: But is this going to be a time frame within a year, two years, five years, how much longer will this insurgency require the troop level of the United States in Iraq right now?
CHENEY: I think the way to think about it is defining it in terms of achieving certain conditions on the ground. We don't want to stay a day longer than necessary, but we want to stay long enough to get the job done.
I took Cheney's advice, and looked up "throes" on dictionary.com. Sure enough, Cheney was right, the second definition reads:
n violent pangs of suffering; "death throes"
I certainly feel better. Regardless of what Cheney's "last throes" comment meant, at least Americans can be rest assured that his grammatical skills are sound.
Cheney's interview with Blitzer folllows a key chapter from the Bushspeak handbook. Make a big statement that will get widespread attention, the chapter reads. If you need to later contradict yourself, rest assured that fewer people will notice.
For example, President Bush made a broad sweeping statements about Saddam Hussein seeking enriched uranium in Africa — offered in a State of the Union address — only to have the White House retract the statement six months later. Earlier this month, it happened again, when the administration, one month after the fact, retracted a statement that terrorist Abu Musab al Zarqawi visiting Syria to plan bombings in Iraq.
It helps when you are interviewed by a lightweight like Blitzer, who asks questions as if they're on cue cards. No independent thought required. Blitzer assumes his guests are telling the truth, and seldom contradicts them, or offers alternative information that would allow him to play devil's advocate, let alone vigorously fight for the truth.