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  1. peteryoung's Avatar

    • Join Date: May 2005
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    #1

    'to the extent that'

    President Bush says,

    "And to the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility."

    How am I to interpret this sentence, and in particular the meaning of 'to the extent that'? Dictionaries do not give very good answers; they tell you the phrase means 'insofar as', and when you check 'insofar as' they forward you back to 'to the extent that'. So I decide to come up with a few interpretations of my own, and would be very much grateful if anyone could give some comments on this problem.

    1)Because the federal goverment didn't fully do its job right, I take responsiblity. (cause-effect)
    2)The more the federal government didn't fully do its job right, the more I take responsiblity. (corresponding measurement)
    3)Now that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsiblity. (weak cause-effect?)
    4)If the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility. (conditional)

    Would appreciate a reply. Thank you very much! :)


    • Join Date: Mar 2006
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    #2

    Re: 'to the extent that'

    Quote Originally Posted by peteryoung
    President Bush says,
    "And to the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility."
    How am I to interpret this sentence, and in particular the meaning of 'to the extent that'? Dictionaries do not give very good answers; they tell you the phrase means 'insofar as', and when you check 'insofar as' they forward you back to 'to the extent that'. So I decide to come up with a few interpretations of my own, and would be very much grateful if anyone could give some comments on this problem.
    1)Because the federal goverment didn't fully do its job right, I take responsiblity. (cause-effect)
    2)The more the federal government didn't fully do its job right, the more I take responsiblity. (corresponding measurement)
    3)Now that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsiblity. (weak cause-effect?)
    4)If the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility. (conditional)
    Would appreciate a reply. Thank you very much! :)
    If you can tell us what Pres. Bush means, we'd all be grateful .

    Seriously though, what he meant is something like:

    "I accept responsibility (for the poor response to the New Orleans disaster), but my responsibility is limited to only what the federal government did wrong. They did do wrong, but they didn't do much wrong (and I take responsibility 'to that extent'), because the state authorities were mostly to blame and bear most of the responsibility."

    In other words, "to the extent that they didn't do their job right" means "only in the things where they didn't do their job right."

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