The following statement is both ambiguous and so obviously ambiguous that it should hardly bear mentioning:
I want President Obama's agenda to fail.
This could be used in several kinds of circumstances, including ones where I might say any of the following:
1. President Obama has a certain agenda whose goals I disagree with, and I don't want him to achieve the goals that I want to avoid.
2. President Obama has a certain agenda whose methods I disagree with, and I don't want him to use those methods to achieve the goals he and I both agree to be good, even if I would want those goals to be achieved.
3. I don't want President Obama to have goals that would achieve good.
4. I don't want President Obama's goals to be achieved, no matter what those goals turn out to be, even the good ones, merely because they happen to be his goals.
So RNC chair Michael Steele comes along and says something that denies 3 and 4, and when pressed on the details he endorses 1 and 2. Popular conservative
entertainer talk show host Rush Limbaugh around the same time says 1 and 2, and when pressed for details he denies 3 and 4. Aside from a small disagreement about how to say things and what constitutes the kind of cordiality that it's best to have toward the President of the Unites States, there isn't any real substantive disagreement here, and neither person involved thinks there is. So why do I keep hearing about this? There really is nothing to see here.