'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Tony Snow on the Difference Between an Escalation and a Surge 

Somewhere far away Scotty and Ari are sitting around a beachfront bar drinking mojitos together: (from yesterday's gaggle)

Q And so often in debate, obviously, language is very important. To your mind, is there a difference between an increase in troops, an escalation in troops, a surge in troops? Because in the last 24, 48 hours these words have all started to become weighted.

MR. SNOW: It just started to become weighted? I think a lot of times people are going to try to find a one-word characterization that allows them to make a political point without perhaps diving into the details in trying to give a proper --

Q Well, what's the difference between an escalation and a surge?

MR. SNOW: Well, why don't we talk about characterizations once we have a plan?

Q Because I think it's part of a conversation that's going on right now.

MR. SNOW: I understand that, and, guess what -- it's a conversation, as I've said before, that is a bit in a vacuum and I'm not going to get into the business of preemptively characterizing something that we have not released in full detail.

Q But, somehow, "escalation" has become this Democratic word -- the Democratic Party language.

MR. SNOW: Well, ask the guys who do their focus groups. They're going to have an answer for it. Look, the President is talking about a way forward, and rather than getting involved in trying to assess a description of a plan that has yet to be released publicly and, therefore, about which I am not in a position to characterize publicly, it seems a little silly for me to start quibbling about adjectives without discussing what they purportedly describe, don't you think?

Q Well, the President apparently told Gordon Smith and others yesterday that the 20,000 troop increase/surge/escalation is part of the deal. So that's why I'm asking specifically about -- we are going to see some kind of increase.

MR. SNOW: Rather than looking for a one-word handle, look at the policy. And, actually, this is your challenge -- you guys do words for a living; figure out -- rather than trying to ask Democratic or even Republican lawmakers what the proper descriptive term is, you figure it out. I mean, you're going to have an opportunity --

Q I'm trying to, but that's what --

MR. SNOW: Yes, but what you're doing is you're listening to what other people are saying and saying, is that the right one? Well, I can't help you on that.

Q Yes, that's exactly what I'm doing --

MR. SNOW: Can't help you on that one.

Q -- I'm listening to other people describe it, and I'm asking the administration, what's the proper word?

MR. SNOW: I understand. But what we will say is, look at it, then we'll talk.

Q Do you have a problem with the word "escalation"?

MR. SNOW: As I said, look at it, we'll talk.

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