Not getting the joke?

Patterico points to this opening of a Dana Milbank Washington Post column:

Earlier this month, President Bush was almost done with a speech to a group of minority journalists when he dropped a rather startling proposal.

“We actually misnamed the war on terror,” he said. “It ought to be the Struggle Against Ideological Extremists Who Do Not Believe in Free Societies Who Happen to Use Terror as a Weapon to Try to Shake the Conscience of the Free World.”

Or, if you prefer to abbreviate, SAIEWDNBIFSWHTUTAAWTTTSTCOTFW.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Bushism has returned. . . .

Hmm — it sounds to me (and Patterico) like a bit of a joke, no? (See here for a more extended quote.) Lots of people, especially those who like to use words like “struggle” instead of “war” and to say someone “happens to” do something rather than “labeling” the person with an adjective, have been arguing that we shouldn’t use the term “war on terror.” Bush intentionally comes up with a lampoon of what those people would prefer that it be called.

The joke (admittedly, not an uproariously funny one) is precisely that the phrase lacks the punch of “war on terror.” And surely it must be a joke: Do you really think that Bush meant to seriously admit that the “war on terror” was misnamed? Whether or not you think the term is a misnomer, I doubt that President Bush thinks so, or that he has any interest in seriously saying so.

Incidentally, the LEXIS transcript (available in the Public Papers of the Presidents file) — and also the White House’s transcript (thanks to reader Mark Hessey for the pointer) — reveals that Bush’s statement was followed by laughter from the audience — and my guess is that this was laughter that Bush intended.

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