Parsing the President

PARSING THE PRESIDENT….When were George Bush and Dick Cheney briefed on the new intel concluding that Iran had shuttered its nuclear bomb program? Bush himself is trying to tap dance around that a bit, but the answer appears to be sometime in July or August.

So what did they do? Breathe a sigh of relief and tone down their rhetoric? Don’t be silly. This is only obvious in retrospect, but it turns out that a couple of months ago both of them began parsing their language very, very carefully, with the goal of (a) making Iran continue to look as dangerous as possible while (b) not directly contradicting the NIE — just in case it ever became public and someone called them on it. Matt Yglesias dissects Cheney here; Josh Marshall dissects Bush here.