Posts Tagged ‘George W. Bush’
December 27th, 2013 at 5:37 pm
Holiday Reading Recommendation: “Days of Fire”
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If you were fortunate enough to receive a gift card for a book-seller this Christmas (economists would remind us, after all, that gift cards are one of the few economically efficient Christmas gifts), allow me to make a recommendation: Peter Baker’s recent book, Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House.

If you’re like me, you may have an appetite for behind-the-scenes D.C. storytelling, but always wind up reading such volumes with skepticism; who knows, after all, who’s interpretation of events to give credence to, or what personal or professional agendas drive the final text (Bob Woodward, for instance, is famous for tilting his narratives in favor of the people who proved to be his best sources)?

As our regular readers may know, I served in the Bush Administration, working as one of the president’s speechwriters in the second term. Given the knowledge that experience imparted, I can tell you that Days of Fire is far and away the most judicious and even-handed account of the Bush Administration I’m aware of (my friend, Matthew Hennessey at City Journal, gives a good summation of why here).

Days of Fire never succumbs to either of the twin pathologies of presidential chronicles: hagiography or axe-grinding. Instead, it gives you just the facts, albeit in an addictive, page-turning fashion (there are lots of little anecdotes that only enhance the readability). You get a good sense of the various ideological positions of the key players in the Bush Administration, as well as the personality traits that shaped them and the Administration.

Baker does an exquisite job of presenting the material and allowing you to make your own judgments. While I wasn’t around for many of the events in the book, the ones I was present for are represented with dispassionate accuracy. All those that preceded my time are also described in the same terms on which I was made to understand them during my White House tenure.

This is a necessary reading whether you’re a Bush fan or a Bush critic (ditto Cheney). This is one of the few books that portrays either man in three dimensions and it will give you a great sense of how truly complicated, taxing, inspiring, and frustrating a presidency can be. Highly recommended.

October 8th, 2013 at 1:26 pm
Startling Graph about the Debt Ceiling and the National Debt

In anticipation of the debt ceiling debate/crisis/hysteria, Veronique de Rugy, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University tweeted a graph of all the times the debt ceiling has been raised since 1980.

It’s a simple but shocking illustration that tells the story of how America went from a national debt of $930 million to a national debt of $16.7 trillion in just over three decades.

The graph indicates that we clearly have two big government presidents to thank for putting Americans and the American economy in such a dire predicament: George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

January 5th, 2013 at 10:16 am
Fred Barnes Trashes the Media

As only he can do — sounding polite and reasonable while building a devastatingly critical case — Fred Barnes lights into the establishment media for its lily-livered lapdog act while not just kissing or licking, but slobbering over, Barack Obama’s ring. He won’t say it, but the case he lays out makes it clear that the media vis-a-vis Obama approaches the position Nina Burleigh offered vis-a-vis Bill Clinton. (Google it.)

One sample Barnes paragraph (among many):

Compare Obama’s coverage with that of President George W. Bush. The difference is startling. There was no fear of affronting Bush. He faced relentless scrutiny of his tactics in the war on terror: wiretaps, renditions, Guantánamo, the Patriot Act. The media raised questions about his motives, the constitutionality of his policies, and his brainpower. White House press conferences became tense and hostile events when national security issues were broached.

Obama’s adoption of these same policies has drawn minimal attention, much less the kind of media wrath that Bush endured. Last week, for example, Obama signed a bill extending the use of warrentless wiretapping to gather intelligence on America’s enemies. Bush was harshly criticized by the media on this very issue. Obama got a pass.

It really has been a shameful performance by the media. One might even say (read Barnes’ treatment of this issue) that the media has deliberately been putting “party before country.” But that might not really be true. I think a lot of the establishment media don’t know the difference.

August 28th, 2012 at 8:17 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Who’s On First
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

April 30th, 2012 at 6:22 pm
Repeal Obamacare and Replace It with… Bushcare?

Avik Roy, a health policy expert at the Manhattan Institute, posits an interesting option for fiscal conservatives looking for something to replace Obamacare with, if Republicans capture Congress and the White House this November: Bushcare.

The Bush plan was formulated by the White House’s National Economic Council, under the leadership of Allan B. Hubbard. The core goal of the plan was to equalize the tax treatment of employer-sponsored and individually-purchased health insurance, without increasing the deficit. (As regular readers know, the fact that employers can purchase health insurance for their workers tax-free, whereas individuals can’t, is the original sin of the U.S. health-care system.)

Bush’s proposal sought to eliminate the unlimited tax break for employer-sponsored insurance, replacing it with a standard deduction for everyone. Under the plan, anyone—employed or not—who bought at least catastrophic insurance would not pay income or payroll taxes on the first $7,500 of their income, or the first $15,000 for a family plan.

The Bush plan’s numbers were designed with 2009 insurance prices in mind, and the tax-deduction thresholds would grow with CPI inflation. The Treasury Department estimated that the plan would lower taxes for 80 percent of those with employer-sponsored insurance, and increase taxes for the remaining 20 percent. It would have especially benefited the 18 million people who then bought insurance on their own, along with many of the uninsured, who would suddenly find health insurance to be significantly less expensive.

In contrast to Obamacare, however, the Bush plan would have turbocharged the market for consumer-driven health plans, tied to health savings accounts, because the most economically efficient use of the deduction would be to purchase a sufficiently generous consumer-driven plan that allowed individuals to put a maximal amount of money into HSAs. Obamacare significantly constrains the use of HSAs in its regulated insurance markets.

Among the criticisms of Bush’s health care proposal is that it “only” expanded health insurance coverage to an additional 11 million people.  Obamacare’s supporters claim – perhaps erroneously – that it would cover 33 million.  But even if we take the estimates at face value, there’s another number that’s arguably more important.

The cost of Obamacare’s 33 million newly covered citizens is agreed by all sides to be in the trillions of (new) dollars.  Bush covered 11 million for zero dollars in increased federal spending commitments.

Food for thought if the Republicans run and win on a platform to repeal and replace Obamacare.

April 3rd, 2012 at 6:38 pm
Obama’s Campaign Spending Also Unsustainable

The Daily Caller makes hilarious use of Karl Rove’s analysis comparing the spending rates for the Bush and Obama reelection campaigns.

But there’s plenty of evidence that the campaign isn’t bringing in as much money as it wants.

For example, data from the campaign’s earlier quarterly reports to the Federal Election Commission show that Obama’s spending is growing faster than revenues.

“The Obama campaign’s high burn rate doesn’t come from large television buys, phone banks or mail programs that could be immediately stopped … [but] from huge fixed costs for a big staff and higher-than-expected fund-raising outlays,” according to a March 14 article by Karl Rove, chief political strategist for George W. Bush.

In the second quarter of 2011, Obama’s “campaign spent 25% of what it raised… while Mr. Bush’s campaign spent only 9% in the second quarter of 2003,” Rove said. Since then, the spending pace has accelerated, he said, pointing out that in January “the Obama campaign spent 158% of what it raised, while the Bush campaign spent 60% in January 2004.”

Also, his supporters initially predicted a $1 billion reelection fund, but campaign staffers are quick to deny that is a goal.

Rove argues that one reason the re-election campaign might be running lighter-than-expected on cash is that many of Obama’s 2008 supporters are not opening their checkbooks this time around.

Spending growing faster than revenues (158%!).  Huge fixed costs triggering obscene debt.  An unsustainable burn rate.  Grandiose predictions cratering on fiscal reality.  Contributors unwilling or unable to pony up more cash.

Whether it’s managing the federal government or his own campaign, Barack Obama is as unbalanced with money as he is with policy.

March 14th, 2012 at 8:29 pm
Obama’s Regulations Are 5x Costlier than Bush’s

President Barack Obama may never tire of blaming his predecessor for every current economic problem, but a new study by the Heritage Foundation shows that when it comes to the cost of federal regulation, Obama is king.

The numbers don’t lie, Mr. President.  Job growth is anemic, the employment rate is stagnant, but your regulatory agenda continues to add billions of dollars in costs to the only real job creators – employers.  After three years of your policies imposing five times the costs of compliance than under the Bush regime it’s time for something radically different.

January 26th, 2012 at 3:08 pm
Nearly $133 Billion in Bailout Money Still Not Repaid
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As I note in my new weekly column, out today, President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night was littered with risible claims, not the least of which was his defense of the hundreds of billions of dollars poured into the financial and auto industries at the height of the nation’s economic crisis (efforts, in fairness, that began with the Bush Administration). Contrary to the president’s rosy recitations, however, the bailouts were not an unimpeachable success. As the AP reports today:

A government watchdog says U.S. taxpayers are still owed $132.9 billion that companies haven’t repaid from the financial bailout, and some of that will never be recovered.

The bailout launched at the height of the financial crisis in September 2008 will continue to exist for years, says a report issued Thursday by Christy Romero, the acting special inspector general for the $700 billion bailout. Some bailout programs, such as the effort to help homeowners avoid foreclosure by reducing mortgage payments, will last as late as 2017, costing the government an additional $51 billion or so.

This report won’t get much attention, simply because of the fact that a majority of the money has been paid back. That fact, however, reveals what may be the most damning legacy of the bailouts’ gonzo economics: the ability to think of a $133 billion shortfall as a rounding error.

August 5th, 2011 at 2:31 pm
Dems Bashing Bush with Bad Math

Byron York eviscerates the common liberal meme that former President George W. Bush was worse on spending and taxes than President Barack Obama.  After showing that Bush’s tax cuts increased federal revenues and shrank deficits while Obama has increased the national debt at twice Bush’s pace, York ends with a resounding rebuke of the common “eight years of Republican rule” canard.

None of this is to say that George W. Bush had a good record on spending. He didn’t, and he’s fair game for criticism. But is it honest to condemn reckless spending in “eight years of Republican rule” when Democrats controlled the Senate for four of those years and the House for two? Is it honest to talk about the “cost” of the Bush tax cuts when federal revenues increased significantly while they were in effect? And is it honest to refer to Bush’s ballooning deficits when deficits actually trended down for much of his presidency — at least before Democrats won control of Congress?

Of course Obama partisans would like to pin the president’s troubles on Bush. But they should get their facts straight first.

May 5th, 2011 at 6:59 pm
Total Media Dishonesty on W’s Ground Zero Absence
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The New York Daily News carries a shameless story today seeking to sow controversy over President Bush’s decision not to join President Obama for today’s ceremony at Ground Zero:

WASHINGTON – George W. Bush won’t be at Ground Zero with President Obama Thursday in part because he feels his team is getting short shrift in the decade-long manhunt for Osama Bin Laden.

“[Bush] viewed this as an Obama victory lap,” a highly-placed source told the Daily News Wednesday.

Bush’s visit to the rubble after the 9/11 attacks was the emotional high point of his presidency, but associates say the invitation to return with his successor was a non-starter.

Those of us who served President Bush know that the NYDN’s account has nothing to do with reality. The former president’s ethos, particularly in retirement, has always been to put the needs of the current president — and the nation — above his own. His decision not to attend the ceremony was a gesture of respect toward the president who caught Bin Laden, not a snub born of petulance. The Daily News’ anonymous source is unnamed for a reason: he or she is unreliable. The paper should be ashamed.

May 4th, 2011 at 11:24 am
White House Won’t Credit Bush Policies for Bin Laden Raid

Former Department of Justice official John Yoo is helping set the record straight on how much credit the Obama Administration should be sharing with its predecessor.

Writing in today’s Wall Street Journal, Yoo makes the case that the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound would have been impossible without Bush era policies such as warrantless wiretapping and enhanced interrogation techniques – both critically important to finding the terrorist mastermind.

And the credit-shifting doesn’t stop there.  When asked by NBC News’ Brian Williams whether waterboarding was used to extract information from detainees, CIA chief Leon Panetta evaded answering.

Here’s the relevant excerpt, courtesy of RealClearPolitics:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: I’d like to ask you about the sourcing on the intel that ultimately led to this successful attack. Can you confirm that it was as a result of waterboarding that we learned what we needed to learn to go after bin Laden?

LEON PANETTA: You know Brian, in the intelligence business you work from a lot of sources of information, and that was true here. We had a multiple source — a multiple series of sources — that provided information with regards to this situation. Clearly, some of it came from detainees and the interrogation of detainees. But we also had information from other sources as well. So, it’s a little difficult to say it was due just to one source of information that we got.

WILLIAMS: Turned around the other way, are you denying that waterboarding was in part among the tactics used to extract the intelligence that led to this successful mission?

PANETTA: No, I think some of the detainees clearly were, you know, they used these enhanced interrogation techniques against some of these detainees. But I’m also saying that, you know, the debate about whether we would have gotten the same information through other approaches I think is always going to be an open question.

WILLIAMS: So, finer point, one final time, enhanced interrogation techniques — which has always been kind of a handy euphemism in these post-9/11 years — that includes waterboarding?

PANETTA: That’s correct.

President Barack Obama may not have to defend the chasm between his campaign rhetoric denouncing the Bush Administration’s policies and his use of those same tactics to find and kill bin Laden.  Don’t expect Panetta, his nominee to be the next Secretary of Defense, to be so lucky in his Senate confirmation hearings.

April 5th, 2011 at 12:38 pm
National Security Appointments Show Obama Taking Another Page from Bush Playbook

Britain’s Telegraph says General David Petraeus may be nominated to replace CIA Director Leon Panetta, after the latter is tapped to become Secretary of Defense when Robert Gates retires.

If that happens, President Barack Obama will have kept not only former President George W. Bush’s people, but also his rationale for staffing key national security posts.  Gates’ last government job before Defense Secretary was as CIA Director.  Air Force General Michael Hayden led the CIA under Bush before Panetta took over.

Despite his campaign rhetoric, President Obama has continued the war in Afghanistan, and reversed himself on civilian trials for Guantanamo Bay detainees.  Now, it looks like the current president is adopting the staffing rationale of his predecessor too.

Somewhere in Texas, I’m sure former President Bush is flattered.

October 22nd, 2010 at 12:30 pm
Tea Party Jolts the GOP Back to Life

In today’s Wall Street Journal Peggy Noonan lets loose with an unequivocal endorsement of the Tea Party’s contribution to revitalizing the GOP.  According to Noonan, Tea Party activists kick-started the Republican resurgence by decoupling it from former President George W. Bush’s ideological grip.

The tea party did something the Republican establishment was incapable of doing: It got the party out from under George W. Bush. The tea party rejected his administration’s spending, overreach and immigration proposals, among other items, and has become only too willing to say so. In doing this, the tea party allowed the Republican establishment itself to get out from under Mr. Bush: “We had to, boss, it was a political necessity!” They released the GOP establishment from its shame cringe.

Much like 1995, 2011 will feature a Republican congressional majority that is unabashed in its demand for fealty to first principles, the Constitution, and limited government.  Oh, the anticipation…

September 4th, 2010 at 1:00 pm
Obama Should Bring Back White House Fact Checkers

In one of the most telling departures from the previous Administration, Obama officials decided to eliminate the White House’s fact-checking team soon after taking office.  After President George W. Bush received heavy criticism for 16 words he said in his 2003 State of the Union Address, The Decider decided to hire a team of fact checkers to confirm the validity of every word the president spoke to the public.

The result was a process that killed any portion of presidential remarks that couldn’t be 100% verified.  The moral of the story: facts matter.  At least they did to the last occupant of the White House.

Now it seems like facts are inconveniences that can be swept under the rug.  That is, unless their absence appears on top of the new Oval Office rug in the form of a misattributed quote.  On President Obama’s redesigned floor emblem appears the quote “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”  Though it’s attributed to Martin Luther King, Jr., it actually belongs to antebellum abolitionist Theodore Parker.

Unlike Vice President Joe Biden, King didn’t forget to give credit for a line he made his own.  Next time, Mr. President, get the facts straight before you commit taxpayer money to honor something that isn’t true.

September 2nd, 2010 at 9:41 am
Ramirez Cartoon: It’s All George W. Bush’s Fault… Except the Iraq Victory Thingy
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

August 22nd, 2010 at 3:31 pm
Is Thomas Friedman Defending the Bush Doctrine?

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman offers what may be the most thought-provoking commentary on the withdrawal of American combat forces from Iraq:

In short: the key struggle with Islam is not inter-communal, and certainly not between Americans and Muslims. It is intra-communal and going on across the Muslim world. The reason the Iraq war was, is and will remain important is that it created the first chance for Arab Sunnis and Shiites to do something they have never done in modern history: surprise us and freely write their own social contract for how to live together and share power and resources. If they could do that, in the heart of the Arab world, and actually begin to ease the intra-communal struggle within Islam, it would be a huge example for others. It would mean that any Arab country could be a democracy and not have to be held together by an iron fist from above.

Considered in the most favorable light, this was the hope propelling former President George W. Bush’s decision to depose Saddam Hussein.  If Iraq could be successful, then the path would be open to other Arab nations to trade the strong man model for stronger civil society.

So far, the jury is still out; especially with Iraqi politicians locked in disputes over a power-sharing agreement after an inconclusive national election.  (Perhaps if the U.S. State Department had exported our winner-take-all system instead of the Europeans’ proportional scheme, the Iraqis would at least be able to get on with governing after they vote.)

Friedman’s column is a welcome addition to the debate about how the United States can best remake other countries.  As of August 2010, probably not much.  At the end of the day, the solution to what ails the Muslim world lies in the ingenuity and statesmanship not of some “great man” ready to play the part of George Washington or Nelson Mandela, but in the collective will of the Iraqi people.

August 11th, 2010 at 12:21 am
Jacksonians, Jeffersonians, and Wilsonians: Three Foreign Policy Views on the Right
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Over at the American Conservative, Associate Editor W. James Antle III (apparently they pay by the number of letters in the byline over at the AC) has an insightful piece up today about the shift in foreign policy thinking on the right.

Antle’s key insight is that, as the war in Afghanistan increasingly comes to be defined as a creature of the Obama Administration, many conservative foreign policy hawks are managing to stay aggressive on national defense while divorcing themselves from the nation-building pretensions of the Bush Administration (this author is among that group, which Antle — taking a page from Rich Lowry — calls the “to hell with them hawks”).

As Antle notes:

There have long been three main foreign-policy tendencies on the American Right: old-style conservatives who agree with Randolph Bourne that war is the health of the state and therefore favor less military intervention abroad; neoconservatives who want to preserve the United States’ global hegemony and engage in armed proselytizing for democracy; and defense-minded conservatives who believe the U.S. should strike forcefully at its enemies whenever it perceives itself, its interests, or its allies to be threatened.

Roughly speaking, these groups can be described as the Jeffersonians, the Wilsonians, and the Jacksonians. Among rank-and-file conservatives, the Jacksonians are by far the largest group. In the postwar era, the Jacksonians have tended to align with the Wilsonians. But there is no reason why that conjunction is inevitable.

For the record, Antle and the folks over the AC (the foreign policy followers of Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul) consider themselves Jeffersonians, a term that deserves some criticism (this is, after all, the man who aggressively promoted the French Revolution and went after the Barbary Pirates). But on the broader point, Antle is right. The grand nation-building associated with counterinsurgency theory is basically liberal domestic policy extrapolated abroad. And as George Will has perceptively noted, the very idea of “nation building” makes about as much sense as “orchid building”.

In an age of microwavable punditry, Antle has done a great job of thinking long and hard about the foreign policy divisions on the right. Anyone who cares about the future of the conservative movement and international relations would do well to read his piece in its entirety.

July 17th, 2010 at 7:53 pm
Foreign Policy ‘Realism’ as a Proxy for Doing Nothing

There’s an interesting column in Foreign Policy I commend to anyone trying to make sense out of the realignment going on in the Democratic and Republican parties.  With former president George W. Bush firmly entrenched in the public’s mind as a neoconservative nation-builder, President Barack Obama did what most political opponents do – adopt the opposite strategy.

Thus, we’ve got a Commander-in-Chief who looks and sounds a lot like former president George H. W. Bush, the highest ranking member of the foreign policy “realist” school.  To my lights, foreign policy realism is shorthand for “The world is a really dangerous place run by a lot of bad people.  Since there’s nothing we can do to change it we might as well make nice with some of the friendlier dictators.”

Perhaps that notion is correct; at least in general.  Such a view of the world helps explain why President Obama can’t seem to summon his emotions when pro-democracy marchers are killed in the streets of Tehran.  Bad people do bad things, but hey; it could be worse.

But while Jacob Heilbrunn’s Foreign Policy article does a nice job of recounting the ebb and flow of Realism’s popularity with Republicans, he seems to miss a more obvious point about the kind of politician who would be attracted to the philosophy.  Consider the presidents Heilbrunn identifies as fans: Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, George H. W. Bush, and now Barack Obama.  Their commonality?  Each president is motivated by pessimism about the world around him.

Eisenhower’s most memorable speech was his farewell address warning about a military-industrial complex.  Nixon had enemies’ lists.  Bush didn’t see the value of “the vision thing” and preferred to talk shop with elites instead of connecting with everyday citizens.  And then there’s Obama.  He might be the most negatively-oriented president we’ve had since Nixon.  The reason America needs “Hope” and “Change” is because everything is currently broken.  Besides, who are Americans to lecture the world on morals when it’s so obvious to Progressive faculty members that the United States is probably at fault for their problems?

Foreign policy realism may be a necessary corrective to neoconservative empire-building, but realism’s lack of popularity doesn’t mean it is right; just that if offers an unsatisfying view of the world.

July 17th, 2010 at 3:16 pm
Another Leftist Fantasy Film Depicts a Conservative Leader as Mentally Deficient

Seemingly, there is no end to the vitriol – subtle and otherwise – that leftist filmmakers are able to conjure up for movies about conservative political leaders.  In the latter half of his presidency George W. Bush was the depicted as a mentally unstable frat boy in the movie W and as an assassination target in Death of a President.

Now, Britain’s most consequential (and best) statesman since Winston Churchill will be portrayed as suffering from dementia while regretting her political career.  Not content to let former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s legacy be ignored by nearly all leaders in modern British politics, the people behind the film The Iron Lady are getting Meryl Streep to help create a storyline that isn’t true.  Yes, Thatcher is declining mentally, and I’m sure she regrets the fact that her party lacked the courage to maintain her defense of free markets and traditional British culture.  But that’s a far cry from regretting the very ideas that made her successful.

Is this kind of character assassination the only kind of creativity the film industry is capable of anymore when it comes to political figures?  If so, where’s the movie about an elderly version of Bill Clinton recounting all his life’s missed opportunities and wasted moments of self-indulgence?  Where is the TV mini-series about the epic match-up of egos between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama?  They could call it The Plastic Lady v. The Gen-X Candidate.  The series could explore all the psychological problems propelling the main characters to forsake healthy family relationships and a normal life for the chance to run everyone else’s.

But maybe those stories would be too boring.  After all, there’d be almost no suspense.

For now, I’ll sit back and hope that Streep’s Iron Lady is at least as insightful as Helen Mirren’s portrayal of Elizabeth II in The Queen.  As Mirren’s Academy Award for Best Actress demonstrates, even Oscar likes a performance that advances more than just a political agenda.

June 28th, 2010 at 7:49 pm
State Department Minces Words

Before leaving office, then President George W. Bush allowed his State Department to take North Korea off the department’s list of “State Sponsors of Terror.”  Earlier this year, an international panel concluded that North Korea was responsible for firing on and sinking a South Korean warship, killing 46 sailors.  Today, President Barack Obama’s State Department said this:

State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said during a regular news conference that the sinking was the act of one state’s military against another’s and not an act of terrorism. Thus, it is not ground to put North Korea back on the U.S. terror blacklist.

“It is our judgment that the sinking of the Cheonan is not an act of international terrorism and by itself would not trigger placing North Korea on the U.S. state (sponsors) of terrorism list,” he said.

But Crowley assured head-scratching journalists that if North Korea complies better with “sponsoring” terrorism, the regime will be rewarded.

“We will not hesitate to take action if we have information that North Korea has repeatedly provided support for acts of terrorism,” Crowley added.

So, it sounds like there are two reasons for no relisting North Korea on the “Sponsors of Terror” list.  Both require quibbling with definitions.  First, when a sovereign nation’s military kills members of another sovereign nation’s military, it is not an act of terrorism.  Okay, but it is most certainly an act of war.  Is the Obama State Department implying that North Korea engaged in an act of war?  If so, it seems like there should be consequences for such an act above and beyond concluding that it doesn’t meet an overly technical definition of terrorism.  (Anyone think the South Korean sailors weren’t terrorized as they died?)

The second reason is that “sponsoring” terrorism apparently requires a sovereign nation to have “repeatedly provided support” for acts of terrorism.  But when did sponsoring something require “repeated” support?  Is the local car dealership not a sponsor of a Little League team unless it “repeatedly” sponsors them?  At this point, does “repeated” mean twice, or more than twice?  And is North Korea staying off the list because they did an act directly instead of just “sponsoring” it?  Just tell the North Korean government what it has to do to get back on that list, Mr. Crowley!

People are dying to know.