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Bush Curses, World Jumps - Jules Crittenden

A couple of days have passed. Its time for some sober reflection on the importance of Bush saying "shit."

It is not, as American commentators have suggested, either particularly good or particularly bad or in any way worrisome that the leader of the free world said "shit." A lot of us say it a lot, on and off the job. I said it the other day when I hit my thumb with a hammer in a home renovation project. Emphatically. Then I said it again later at work. Never mind why.

The big deal also was not this nonsense about Tony "Yo" Blair being Bush's poodle. Some Brit scribblers hate Bush, Blair agrees with Bush, Blair is Bush's poodle. Ok, fine. Brit tantrum noted, moving on ...

The real problem is that two decades after Ronald Reagan open-miked the infamous words, "We begin bombing in five minutes..." world leaders haven't figured out what a bully pulpit the open mike is. You'd think by now they'd be open-miking all over the place. Look what happened to the Soviet Union just a few short years after Reagan's open-mike "gaffe." No bombing involved.

Diplomacy generally calls for conveying messages in understated fashion that leaves room for both sides to maneuver. Forceful and threatening statements are avoided unless there is a firm intention to act on them, imminently. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran is a notable exception, as he enjoys issuing threats he currently has no ability to carry out, such as the destruction of Israel. This has not done much to raise Ahmadinejad's standing anywhere except possibly at Hezbollah HQ, which is experiencing difficulties and may not have a very high opinion of the boss in Iran at the moment, either.

When Bush says something offhand in front of an open mike, everyone pays very close attention. At this very moment, you can be sure Syrian and Iranian intelligence analysts are examining all possible nuances of Bush's open-mike babble.

Bush can dismiss it as a joke. He can even ignore the fact that he ever said it. Because within the norms of diplomacy, he didn't say shit, as it were. But an important message still gets through.

In times like these, with Iran fighting a proxy war against Israel in Lebanon, Bush may want to consider a few more open-mike moments. Something along the lines of:

"Yo Blair, the irony is, if we just blew the shit out of Damascus and Teheran, that Hezbollah shit would come to an end pretty quick."