Nearly perfect headline: “At the Pentagon, Gates Seen as Liberator”

This is a joke right out of The Onion (they’d overplay it, though): Robert Gates, new defense secretary, rolls into the Pentagon with the kind of reception the Bushies (and Rumsfeld himself!) predicted for our soldiers in Iraq — wreathes of flowers, etc. This being the Washington Post, the writer plays it lightly, only hinting at the parallel a couple times in the article (“hearts and minds,” “greeted as a liberator”). But he nails it.

The headline writer gets the joke, too; {s}he must. But for some reason {s}he fumbles it. Why “seen as liberator” rather than “greeted as liberator”? If the problem was length, the headline could be, “At Pentagon, Gates Greeted as Liberator”? By refusing to use the same language the administration repeatedly used to the media, the Post really flubbed up a nice joke with some bite.

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