Peggy Noonan is kvetching about how awful President Obama is again -- this time her complaint is that Obama "has very poor judgment." How bad is his judgment? Well, Noonan says, the man can't even use an acronym like a normal person!
He takes off the table things that should be there, and insists on weird words like "degrade" -- why not just "stop and defeat"? -- and, in fact, "ISIL." The world calls it ISIS or Islamic State. Why does he need a separate language? How does that help?Hmmm, let's see: Here's British prime minister David Cameron:
Cameron added that Britain and the rest of the world cannot ignore the threat Islamic State poses. "Step by step we must drive back, dismantle and ultimately destroy ISIL and what it stands for," he said.Here's Australian prime minister Tony Abbott:
"But we have to be aware that there are people even here in Australia who would do us harm, and there are networks here in Australia of people who support the work of the ISIL death cult in the Middle East."And here's Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper:
"Canadians are rightly sickened by ISIL's savage slaughter of anyone who doesn't share their twisted view of the world. We know their ideology is not the result of 'social exclusion' or other so-called 'root causes,'" Harper said to a ripple of laughter.So the acronym ISIL, which Noonan thinks Obama uses just because he's peculiar, or arrogant, or willfully perverse, is actually used by the three most important heads of state in the English-speaking world apart from the president of the United States.
(And, by the way, they're all conservatives.)
Is there anything Obama can do that right-wingers won't describe as an outrage?
And as for "degrade": I see it in the Bush administration's 2006 National Strategy for Combating Terrorism ("We have made substantial progress in degrading the al-Qaida network, killing or capturing key lieutenants, eliminating safehavens, and disrupting existing lines of support"), as well as in Dick Cheney's memoir ("Since we had agreed our aim was to degrade Iraq's tank force by 50 percent before we launched the ground war, the difference in estimates mattered"). But I can't find any evidence of Ronald Reagan ever using the word, and I guess that's the gold standard for Noonan. Therefore, the word is "weird."