What is in a name?

(Foreword: I’ve got unflattering things to say about folks from both political parties… so if you’re feeling unfairly picked on… have patience, keep reading. If you’ve read it all and you still feel unfairly picked on… please feel free post a comment and pick on me.)

This morning on the radio a sound byte was played from the first American President in Estonia. The debate point for the day (again) was: “Civil War, is it or isn’t it?” The President laid out his position on the subject.

“What we’re seeing in Iraq right now is a pattern of violence that started in February.”

Whew! That’s a relief. A pattern of violence sounds much better than a Civil War.

Wait a fight pickin’ minute. That’s nine months. The word “pattern” suggests order… the opposite of random… distinct factions attacking each other. What exactly does nine months of ordered violence suggest? Even if you buy into the theory that it was all “sparked” by al Qaeda “months ago,” doesn’t a “pattern” of internal and reciprocal violence begin to add up to a Civil War at some point? It’s been argued that Iraq is not in a Civil War because most of the fighting has happened in Baghdad. I’ve heard it suggested that the same argument could be used to say the pattern of violence between the United States in the 1860’s wasn’t a Civil War because no fighting took place in Maine (and I would add that none of it occurred in the major population centers of the time… Boston, New York, Philadelphia… or anywhere in the northeast). I’ve also heard it said that more than a quarter of the Iraqi population is in Baghdad.

At this rate, if the president doesn’t watch his step he’s going to have to give up his membership card to The American Association for the Advancement of Hyperbole (A.A.A.H.! for short).

My biggest regret posting this message is that I’m contributing to a (mostly) meaningless debate. The energies devoted to all of this haggling over a label would be better spent haggling over a solution. Democrats need to get their imagination out of cold storage (where it’s been safely preserved since the late sixties), and start positioning themselves as a REAL solution to the problem (instead of playing one on TV).

There’s more to this problem than a label.

Give the gift of words.