Tuesday, August 21, 2007

"Sentence structure mistakes"

This was posted at TPM this morning:
… in a conversation with Egyptian democracy activist Saad Ibrahim, the president said, "You're not the only dissident. I too am a dissident in Washington." As Eric Kleefeld told me yesterday, President Bush seems confused. Dissidents are the ones who get tortured and wiretapped. Not the ones who do it. I guess that's one of those sentence structure mistakes.
Even though I had read the quote earlier, it took me a while to get my stomach settled at the thought of Bush saying that, when I consider it in context. Of course, Josh Marshall is right: If you torture and wiretap, you're not a dissident.

But it's not a syntax error. Semantic role reversal of an odd sort, maybe: dissident as agent of torture rather than patient. Simply changing the meaning of the word seems more likely: dissident = one who disagrees with others who have some power (more limited than and subordinate to his own, of course). But at his age, I'm going with a plain old speech error: He's just the decider, not the dissenter. Probably mixes up staff names all the time too.

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