Quote: “‘Stuff happens,’ ‘mission accomplished,’ ‘last throes,’ ‘a few dead-enders.’ I’m just more familiar with those statements than anyone else because it grieves me so much that we had not told the American people how tough and difficult this task would be.” Senator John McCain in the Washington Post.
Figure of Speech: peristrophe (per-IS-tro-phee), the figure that tosses back an opponent’s rhetorical grenade. From the Greek, meaning “turnaround.”
When your rhetoric is one step ahead of reality, either reality eventually matches your rhetoric, or your rhetoric succumbs to reality. President Bush believed he could make history by deciding it into being. History seems to have other ideas.
Bush’s strange bedfellow and would-be successor, John McCain, takes some of the most famous quotes of the Bush administration and re-spins them with a show of grief that seems downright presidential. But the senator, a loyal Republican, deftly avoids attacking Bush himself. Note the use of “we,” not “that jerk in the White House.” And McCain quotes only the president’s men, not Dubya himself.
Behind that straight-talking, war-hero exterior lies a master rhetorician.
Snappy Answer: “To see how familiar we are with them, wait till the election.”