Speaking at a New York school today, President Bush provided the long-awaited sequel to his 2000 campaign query, “Is our children learning?” From the Washington Post:
"As yesterday's positive report card shows, childrens do learn when standards are high and results are measured." The official White House transcript later corrected the statement to "children.This latest “verbal slip” will undoubtedly garner some cheap laughs all across the spectrum, because it’s always fun to hear a figure of authority fall flat on his face. But to dismiss it as merely just another “Bushism” would be missing the boat entirely; The “childrens” mixup is only the latest battle in his second front in the war on Al Qaeda—the actual war being waged against the word “Al Qaeda.”Qaeda in Arabic is a plural noun, meaning, among other things, “the way.” But a closer look reveals that the singular of Qaeda—Qadawa (or something approximating that) gives us the Arabic word for grammar. The President has been criticized for years now for attempting to wage war on an abstraction—terrorism—without trying to absolve the root causes, be they poverty, political unrest, or religion. By displaying ignorance bordering on contempt for standard rules of grammar, Bush is doing his part to attack the terrorist ideology at its very core. When there is no more grammar, the entire organizational structure of Al Qaeda will presumably collapse in on itself, leaving a free a democratic society in its wake.