Thursday, February 22, 2007

Opinion (Jan Freeman): As the stomach turns

During last week's congressional debate on Iraq, House minority leader John Boehner argued that the resolution against troop increases would leave America's enemies "secure in the knowledge that America doesn't have the stomach to stop them."

This intestinal-fortitude idiom has been part of the Iraq discussion for a while now, most notably in Dick Cheney's recent speeches and interviews. But as far back as October 2004, former New York mayor Ed Koch was using it to lambaste queasy war skeptics, declaring that Democrats "don't have the stomach to fight international terrorism!"

Sometimes, hearing these polemical uses of stomach, you suspect that the speaker would rather be accusing his targets of insufficient backbone, guts, heart, or something less printable. But stomach, it turns out, is usefully ambiguous as a political challenge -- an insult with deniability built in.

Read the rest at the Boston Globe