I was listening to NPR today while driving to an appointment. There was a brief sound bite of President Bush reacting to the Supreme Court's decision to allow prisoners in Guantanamo Bay to have the right to Habeas Corpus. I was struck by the way he phrased his response. He said, "I don't have to agree with the decision of the Supreme Court." Now I am not going to make any political statements about what I believe in regards to this issue, but I was struck by how weak this statement made him sound. Of course, he doesn't "have to agree" with the decision. He has the right to agree or not to agree. Or, was he stating he had no need to comply with the ruling? "I don't have to agree because, as President, I can do as I wish. Although, in this case, I will comply with the ruling." The terms "have to" and "do not have to" refer to the obligation or necessity to do something. "I have to feed the cat. The cat does not have to poop in my shoe." To my ear Mr. Bush would have sounded stronger if he had simply said, "I disagree with the ruling." No ambiguity and no reason for me to get on my high horse. Maybe I am sensitive to the "I don't have to..." remarks because of raising four children.
Child 1:"Dad says to clean your room!"
Child 2: "I don't hafta listen to you!"
Child 1: "Do so!"
Child 2: "Do not!!!"
The upshot of all this is that now I am more aware of how I phrase things. I want to be more precise so there is no misunderstanding in what I am trying to say. I have to feed the cat but he does not have to poop in my shoe. You do not have to agree.
France lost to the Dutch 4-1 in EuroCup 2008 action today. *sob* They did not have to lose, but they did. Will the make the next round? Je ne sais pas.