Bush speeches "not political"?
This week, Bush will begin a series of speeches on the war in Iraq. On Wednesday, he had this to say about the upcoming speeches:
``They're not political speeches,'' Bush said Wednesday when asked if they might have an impact on the congressional elections just over two months away. ``They're speeches about the future of this country, and they're speeches to make it clear that if we retreat before the job is done, this nation would become even more in jeopardy. These are important times, and I seriously hope people wouldn't politicize these issues that I'm going to talk about.''
Bush uses "political" in an interesting manner here, a way we commonly hear politicians of all stripes use it. What is Bush trying to communicate? Presumably that he is "just getting things done," or "just doing his job" for the country and not to advance his own political agenda. To emphasize how "not political" his speeches are, he says they are "speeches about the future of this country." This is a good example of how politics can mean very different things to different people. If politics is defined as the realm of public decision making, then how can discussion of "the future of the country" not be political? And if that's the defintion of politics, then isn't being political a good thing in a democracy? However, given the more sinister definition of politics (where politics equals self-serving power grabs), it's a good rhetorical strategy to cast yourself as being "not political." For one thing, as Bush immediately shows, it entails your critics are "politicizing" the issue by criticizing you, or at the very least puts the burden on them to demonstrate that they're not "being political" and have purely altruistic motives. As Eliasoph points out, this split in how people define politics can make it difficult to discuss public issues.