[let them be clear]

 Today Howard Dean explained his response to the capture of Saddam Hussein. “Let me be clear,” he said. “My position on the war has not changed.”

His position on the war is all well and good, but his statement raises a question: Who exactly is trying to prevent Dr. Dean from being clear?

A quick search of Google News suggests that the world’s political establishment is begging for opportunities to be clear. “Let me be clear,” pleads Sir Jeffrey James, the British Special Envoy to Nepal, “that the British government has no interest in assuming the role of facilitator or mediator.” Dan Gillerman, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, also asks for leave to be clear, then declares that “We consider the resolutions adopted by this so-called 10th emergency session [of the Security Council] to be ultra vires.” (Apparently Latin is clearer than English.)

The Google News results for “let me be clear” go on for pages and touch on every subject imaginable, suggesting that the phrase is the basically of 2003. Sort of. Except that it’s way more oratorically grandiose, which is why politicians have taken to using it. If you stand up and say, “I’m in favor of limiting the expansion of the federal deficit to $500 billion over the next 12 years,” you’re just making a statement. But if you set your jaw, look soulfully into the red light atop the camera, and preface it with “Let me be clear,” well, then you’re taking a stand.

But the thing is, no one is preventing politicians from being clear. They can go ahead whenever they’re ready. We’d love to hear it. Politicians: can you let yourselves be clear?

Also published on Medium.