Quote: “We remain committed to our principle, that we will not do anything that undermines the program’s capabilities or the president’s authority.” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.
Figure of Speech: circumlocution (cir-cum-lo-CUE-tion), the rhetorical end run.
Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee say they have reached a deal, sort of, with the White House on warrantless wiretaps. The administration will get to do what it wants for 45 days at a time, provided it tells a few more members of Congress that it was necessary. “We will continue to spy on Americans regardless of Congress and will not allow it to check any of the president’s self-proclaimed authority,” said the White House spokeswoman.
Actually, she didn’t say that at all. She only meant that. Circumlocution (“speaking around”) has been an essential tool of politics since ancient Athens.
Speaking in the negative has become a Washington taboo. We’re a positive country; we’re Pro Everything. So poor Perino had to tie herself into a semantic pretzel to avoid saying the White House is Anti the Will of Congress. It’s “Pro Not Doing Anything That Undermines Etc.”
Snappy Answer: “Can you repeat that principle again?”