Friday, September 27, 2002

What's in a Word

Congress found itself evaluating the difference between "and" and "to" this week, in debates on a proposed resolution to declare support for the President Bush's campaign to declare war on Iraq. When it comes to putting their names on a resolution that will undoubtedly not receive universal agreement around the world, the representatives in Congress found themselves exquisitely sensitive to nuances in meaning. "You try to get to an understanding not only in terms of what is written, but how can it be interpreted," claims Representative Dick Armey, the House majority leader. Who better to appreciate the fine distinctions between definitions than people whose entire careers rest on how the public interprets their statements and promises? The question for me becomes not "which word did they finally settle on" but rather "how do I evaluate their motives for picking one word over another?"
Read the NY Times article.

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