This Magazine

Progressive politics, ideas & culture


On falsehoods, intentional and otherwise

This Magazine Staff

editorial by Nicholas D. Kristof
in the New York Times today directs our attention to a documented incident when President Bush stretched the truth to make a compelling point. That the incident involved his daughter Barbara and a stuffed toy matters little. He got the date, the animal, the outcome and a bunch of other details completely wrong – and this was no mere slip of the tongue; it passed by fact-checkers on the way to becoming part of his autobiography. It is refuted, not by Democratic hacks, but by Bush’s own mother.

This posting relates back to my last one, such a long time ago (I’ve been away), about cheating. How much tolerance do we, or should we, have for a world leader who doesn’t mind letting an obvious lie out of his mouth now and then. Yes, yes, politicians lie all the time in the service of their nations. But, I’m talking about character. Bush’s fib about his daughter was not in the service of his nation, it was to make his dad look like a loving grandfather.

I am reminded of a sweating Paul Martin, caught in the glare of a CBC town hall, struggling to justify the reflagging of parts of his CSL fleet and coming up with some lame-ass justification about business efficiency. Wouldn’t we all have respected him a little bit more if he’d just said, “yeah, okay, I avoid paying Canadian taxes because by doing that I make more money, and I want to make as much money as possible. Don’t you want a smart businessman like me running your economy?”

Oh, and finally, for those who haven’t yet seen it, I’m still trying to digest this eerily gentle “explanation” from Christopher Hitchens. No regrets, no admissions, but the bile quotient is low, low, low, and he even has some qualified praise for Kerry. What does it all mean?

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