A word packed with blowback

by Andrew Sprung

Like many of Obama's perceived failures and equivocal triumphs, I suspect that yesterday's oh-so-partial climate deal will bear fruit over time.  But this sum-up from the President -- notwithstanding his refusal to oversell -- raises a red flag:

Mr Obama acknowledged that the deal was “not sufficient to combat the threat of climate change but [was] an important first step” on cutting greenhouse gases.

“We have made a meaningful and unprecedented breakthrough. For the first time in history, all of the major economies have come together to take action [on global warming],” he said after meetings with Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil and Jacob Zuma, the South African president.

That "unprecedented" recalls Hillary's disastrous gush about Israel's "unprecedented" settlement freeze (never mind that it's true, whether or not it's enough).  And the "unprecedented" stimulus, and health care reform bill...all true. But all messy, partial, slow-acting. With fire incoming fire from left and right, that adjective is a rich target.