Are We on the Same Page? Now More Than Ever

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Rest assured: President Barack Obama and his national security team are on the same page. That's according to White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, who since Obama announced his strategy to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria on Sept. 10, has sparred with reporters over whether there are splits between the White House and the Pentagon, the White House and the State Department and the White House and the Ambassador to the United Nations.

There aren't, according to Earnest, who in the last week has gotten progressively stronger in his description of just how "on the same page" the administration really is on the details of the strategy.

On Sept. 16, after General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, raised the possibility of forward deployed U.S. troops, Earnest said the following:
 On Sept. 18, Secretary of State John Kerry was added to the mix with Dempsey:
Today Samantha Power, the administration's ambassador to the United Nations was added to the list, after her appearance on the Sunday political talk shows. Dempsey, of course, was still there, too.
 To summarize, the White House is confident that its secretary of State, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the U.S. ambassador to the UN are all firmly, exactly on the same page with the president.
Here's the thing about responding to a question by saying you're "on the same page'' with someone, though: You probably aren't, or else the question never would've been asked in the first place. In these cases, the differences -- brought to the media's attention during congressional testimony and in television interviews -- appear to more about the language used and semantics than anything else. But they do exist, no matter what page everyone thinks they are on.