Ah but of course
Dan Fromkin's White House Briefing column points to an interesting Bushian verbal cue; I include a link but it's not a permalink and will link to the most recent column, so I quote the relevant parts here:
Here's a debate-watching tip: Perk up your ears every time President Bush says "of course" tonight. Because if recent history is a guide, what's coming is a statement that his supporters might find obvious, but that his critics might consider a whopper.
I first noticed this after last week's debate. (Here's the full text.)
"Of course we're after Saddam Hussein -- I mean bin Laden," Bush said early on.
Depending on where you're coming from, politically, that's either manifestly true or a Freudian slip exposing a significant falsehood.
Later in the debate, Bush said: "And, of course, Iraq is a central part in the war on terror."
Well, that was precisely the number one point of contention that night.
Bush's views were being challenged that night, and his use of the phrase "of course" sounded defensive in nature. So I decided to go back and look at how Bush used the phrase in other situations recently where he was confronted by tough questions.
Here's Bush's sole use of the phrase at his joint press conference with Iraq's interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi, last month:
• Talking about his decision to attack Saddam Hussein, Bush said: "Of course, I was hoping it could be done diplomatically. But diplomacy failed. And so the last resort of a President is to use force. And we did. And now we're -- we're helping the Iraqis."
And do you remember Bush's last prime-time press conference in April? Here's every time he used the phrase then:
• "And of course I want to know why we haven't found a weapon yet."
• Speaking of the President's Daily Brief that he received a month before Sept. 11, 2001, headlined: "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US," Bush said: "And of course that concern[ed] me."
Lots more (for now) at link above.