White House Talking About 'long Poles' And 'big Sticks' A Lot Lately

There's an interesting trend in statements coming out of the White House these days - it seems like the top folks over at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. are a little obsessed with "long poles" and "big sticks."

"That's just not possible," a Crypt reader might say in response to that claim. Senior White House officials, including the president and vice president of the United States, would never make such comments. Alas, it is true, and I will be happy to go to the videotape on this one.

Let's start with National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, who made three separate references to the legendary "long pole" in a Monday press briefing on Iran's nuclear weapons program (or lack thereof):

"As we have said, weapons-grade uranium is the long pole in the tent for a nuclear weapon."

"That is the long pole in the tent, and that's what the international community has been trying, in a pretty united way, for the last three or four years to get the Iranians to suspend."

"Well, we hope not, because as I said, the problem presented by the continuing uranium enrichment program continues, because that is the long pole for a country like Iran on the way towards having a path towards a nuclear weapon."

Hadley is apparently enamored with the 'long pole in the tent" metaphor, since he also used it back in August 2006, when talking about creation of a peacekeeping force to end Israeli-Hezbollah fighting: "The long pole in the tent, as they say, of course, is the formation of this multinational force [and] that takes some time."

Bush followed with his own "long pole" reference on Tuesday, and he seems to have gotten it from Hadley: "Now, the Iranians -- the most difficult aspect of developing a weapons program, or as some would say, the long pole in the tent, is enriching uranium."

Cheney, for his part, told Politico on Wednesday that some senior House Democrats, Reps. John Dingell (Mich.) and John Murtha (Pa.) may have been, uh, somewhat emasculated by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

“They are not carrying the big sticks I would have expected," Cheney said of his former colleagues.