The ‘preemptive war’ clause of the Bush doctrine—to the extent that the thing is officially articulated in the first place—is considered nefarious not on its face, but rather because the Bushian notion of “preemptive” war is colored by history: it is conflated with the false pretenses of the war Bush waged in Iraq. And it is connected, generally, to the broader implications of a globalized notion of manifest destiny. Which is to say: “Preemptive” has several definitions, and Obama’s and Bush’s are clearly different ones. Obama isn’t choosing to start a war, but rather negotiating with one already waged. You can’t be “preemptive” about something that already exists.

The Bush/Obama comparison, in the end, washes over the particular details (such as they were) that the president articulated in his speech last night—and ignores the many supplemental pieces of information and context and insight that other journalists, admirably, provided the public last night. “Obama: so Bushian” might make for good punditry. It doesn’t, however, make for good journalism.

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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.