Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Wednesday, June 30, 2004  

What the hell is Nick Kristof talking about? In his current column, he argues that Bush is not a liar and it's poor form to call him one. Makes 'em look like the righties who attacked Clinton--"petty and simpleminded."

I'm against the "liar" label for two reasons. First, it further polarizes the political cesspool, and this polarization is making America increasingly difficult to govern. Second, insults and rage impede understanding.

Well bully for Nick. Problem is, Bush did lie, a fact Kristof goes on to admit. (We'll come back to that in a moment.)

He lets Bush off because he has a "prima facie defense of confusion"--stupidity. He's following the Fahrenheit 9/11 meme, and all his evidence is in the service of demonstrating that the White House "deceived themselves along with the public — a more common problem in government than flat-out lying." His conclusion--it's "sad" that lefties are now making the same mistake the Bushies made of "overdosing on moral clarity and self-righteousness."

In all of this, Kristof gets one thing right: the left should avoid histrionics. But not because it's poor form or self-distructive. What Kristof misses (and you, I'm sure, already know) is that Bush's entire administration is a fraud woven of lies. Let's leave aside Iraq--I think Kristof is right that the administration was full of true believers there. How about the rest of his administration? We need only cite the names of legislation to debunk the he's-no-liar theory: the "Clean Skies" and "Healthy Forests" initiatives. To pick from the myriad examples, a couple of recent official lies include the latest budget, with no provision for funding Iraq, and the Medicare Bill, the full cost of which Bush withheld until after it was passed. The unadorned, unhysterical truth is plenty to damn the President. Getting hepped up has the obvious consequence of making people like Kristof think you're overstating the argument.

I expected a little more insight than this from Kristof.

posted by Jeff | 8:53 AM |
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