Future Tensions

Not even his fans have accused President George W. Bush of being quick or eloquent on his feet. Earlier this month, he showed again why extemporaneous speaking is not his forte. During the diplomatic visit of South Korean President Kim Dae Jung, Bush informed Kim that Washington would not be pursuing a missile agreement with North Korea. Kim, who had worked diligently with President Bill Clinton to achieve such an agreement, was disappointed. Bush explained his reasoning on the North Koreans as follows: "We’re not certain as to whether or not they’re keeping all terms of all agreements."

The problem with Bush’s explanation is that, in fact, North Korea has only one agreement with the United States, a 1994 treaty on freezing plutonium processing at a nuclear weapons plant. There is no evidence that North Korea has violated that treaty.

Asked what agreements Bush was referring to, a White House spokesman said the president was talking about future agreements. "That’s how the president speaks," he explained.

Far be it from us to suggest that the White House is fudging on this one. Perhaps the president wasn’t entirely clear about what agreements the U.S. has with North Korea. But before the tensions escalate, we think the secretary of grammar should work with the president on his future tenses.

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