03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

McChrystal Pressed On Vocabulary Usage

It never ceases to amaze me how our Congresscritters can reduce a serious matter to such insipidity.

A few minutes after noon on Tuesday, Representative John Kline (R-Minn.) had the opportunity to question General Stanley McChrystal. Kline first touched on McChrystal's earlier testimony, in which the genearl stated that he did not personally recommend a July 2011 date for troop reductions. McChrystal reaffirmed that he did not "recommend a date," but attempted to explain that he did "identify to my leadership" that "significant progress against [the] insurgency" could occur within eighteen months, which would put that milestone in the summer of 2011. You can expect this thread to be tugged on with alacrity, after these hearings.

That was about it for substance, however. Kline spent to bulk of his remaining time inquiring about vocabulary words.

KLINE: What is it that we have the right strategy and the right resources to do? Is that to win?

MCCHRYSTAL: I believe it is to let the Afghan people win.

KLINE: Okay. And is there an important difference there? We're asking our sons and daughters, literally in some cases, to go over there and fight, 30,000 more of them. Are we asking them to go over and win?

MCCHRYSTAL: We're asking to go over and be on the winning team. The reason I parse this is because the Afghans are the ultimate winners here.

KLINE: I understand that. I think the parsing is interesting because it seems to be consistent that whether it is Admiral Mullen who I asked whenever we had the last hearing here a few days ago if we were seeking victory and he said, no, it is success. Well, I don't understand why we're parsing these words "success" and "victory" and "win," but it seems to be consistently coming from that table. Now, Secretary Gates reportedly said this weekend, quote, we are in this thing to win, unquote, when talking to our men and women in Afghanistan. And I certainly think that's right and I certainly hope that's the message that we are portraying to the men and women that we're sending over there, that they're going over there to win. And I guess my question to you is is there some guidance from somewhere to all of you that says we can't use the words "win" or "victory?"

MCCHRYSTAL: Not that I have received.

So there you have it. No one is apparently micromanaging anyone, with thesauri.

Kline went on to say that it was "just amazing we got into this parsing business." To clarify for the Congressman, who doesn't "understand why we're parsing these words 'success' and 'victory' and 'win'", we're only doing so because you insisted on it in your stupid line of questioning.

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