Date: 05 October 2006
WASHINGTON, Oct 5, 2006 (AFP) - The White House on Thursday defended US
President George W. Bush's description of the 10 months of bloody violence
in Iraq since December 2005 elections as "just a comma."
"He is not talking about the war as a comma," spokesman Tony Snow told
reporters after critics pounced on Bush's repeated use of the expression as
a sign of callous disregard for the war's death toll.
"What the president's making the point is, when you look at a history book,
the ten-month period is a comma," he said. "What he means is that, in the
grand sweep of history, 10 months is not an epic."
Snow fired back at unnamed critics he accused of trying to "wrench a
statement out of context" to use it as ammunition against Bush "who is
deeply aware of the human costs of war."
"Some people have tried to say, 'How dare the president refer to this as a
comma? He's being glib about the deaths of Americans.' That's outrageous.
And the people who say that know it," said the spokesman.
Bush appears to have first used the controversial term in a late September
interview with CNN television, when he noted the violence in Iraq and said
that the December 2005 elections "seems like a decade ago."
"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," he said.
He used the same image on Tuesday at a political fundraiser in California,
telling Republican party faithful: "It must seem like an eternity to you,
when you think about those elections last December."
"It certainly does to me, in some ways. Ultimately, when this chapter of
history will be written, however, it's going to be a comma," he said.
"The Iraqis voted, comma, and the United States of America understood that
Iraq was a central front in the war on terror and helped this young
democracy flourish so that a generation of Americans wouldn't have to worry
about the extremists emanating from that country to hurt the American
people," he said.