Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Unfinished Business

Back in August, Cynthia Johnston challenged me to both defend President Bush's veracity (especially regarding the so-called "16 words" in his 2003 State of the Union address) and to support my claim that Kerry's constant fibs and distortions would hurt his candidacy. I answered few days later, but the discussion died. Ms Johnston created a new blog in late October, containing (so far solely) her reply. My small role in Bush's campaign delayed my reaction until now.

To a large extent, the election results are themselves a sufficient response. However, here are additional rebuttals.
  1. Depends on what the meaning of "is" is. Cynthia's reply was clogged with pointless hermeneutical digressions (e.g., complaining I'd mistakenly characterized her as "belittling" the basis for the 16 words, while conceding she described Bush as "caught with imaginary yellowcake on his hands."). She said Bush lied; I said Kerry lied. I say belittle, you say Bin Laden--no wonder Republicans won.

  2. It was in all the papers. Cynthia's attacks on the Presidents' truthfulness overlook two recent, separate, investigations by Congress and the British government, which established that senior Iraqis did in fact travel central Africa, including Niger, seeking to purchase Uranium in the form of yellowcake. Even the Washington Post found no evidence of lying.

  3. That was then; this is now. Ms Johnston's apparent error was to assume a Washington Post article to which I linked was contemporary, rather than a year old and before the President was vindicated. It's as if Ms Johnston confused the "before" and "after" advertisements for a gym, and so concluded exercise was fattening. By assuming the truthfulness of the liberals' charges while eliding the Administration's defense, Cynthia twists fairness and due process into something more appropriate to Lewis Carroll's Looking Glass world ("sentence first -- verdict afterwards").

  4. Expanding the lying strike zone. Cynthia says the decision to invade Iraq was founded on "President Bush’s carefully woven web of lies." She goes on to discuss weapons of mass destruction. But Bush didn't lie, for four reasons:
    First, Iraq had WMDs.

    Second, the Duelfer report found that Saddam remained eager to produce chemical weapons and might have succeeded had sanctions been lifted.

    Third, intelligence--spying--is more complicated in reality than in James Bond. Our intelligence services normally produce a range of answers and threat estimates. The binary "true/false" dichotomy does not easily fit.

    Fourth, and most importantly--how is this lying? According to The American Heritage Dictionary (4th ed. 2000) a lie is a falsehood "deliberately presented as being true." But U.S. intelligence thought Saddam had WMDs. Saddam's generals thought Saddam had WMDs. And so did everyone else, from John Kerry to Jacque Chirac. This provided the opening for propagandist Michael Moore. But neither liberals nor the mainstream media explained why mistaken = mendacious.
  5. Overlooking actual liars. How did Cynthia and other liberals fail to spot the liars among them? Such as Dan Rather, purveyor of forgeries. Such as Joseph Wilson and Richard Clarke, who twisted and hid facts to prolong their ego trip. And they refused to confront Kerry himself, who lied about an excursion to Cambodia in late 1968 and lied about non-existent war crimes he'd never witnessed. Quite a litany of losers--and the Dems remained silent.

  6. Turn around is fair play. Imagine if liberals were held to the "liar, liar; pants on fire" standard Cynthia proposes. If a mistake suddenly is equivalent to lying, the Dems haven't been honest in 50 years. They supposed Communists were reasonable and truthful--isn't everyone?--with disastrous results for hundreds of millions. They assumed poverty could be cured by spending--wasting billions and promoting a culture of dependency that persists today. They're long on theory--which is why liberals dominate academia--but unhindered by evidence. A Democrat is someone who never asked an Eastern European about the USSR, a Swede about disincentives, or an Armenian about powerlessness. Democrats thus have a broad and unblemished record of error--does that make them liars?

  7. Voters weren't fooled. By November 2nd, 70 percent of voters rated Bush's most important qualtiy as honesty, as compared to only 29 percent for Kerry. And by early morning on November 3rd--as I predicted--the authentic overwhelmed the ersatz.

  8. Nothing's changed. Today's dogma is that Bush is Hitler, Ashcroft a re-incarnated Torquemada, and America a fascist state. Yet, the New York Times still publishes, unconcerned with truth or objectivity; scruffy "no-globos" still protest, if only to delay getting a job; and Barbra Streisand can call the Administration a "reign of witches" without fear of jail. The sky didn't fall; no rational observer would call this fascism. Does that mean IMF protesters, the NY Times and Streisand are liars?
If Cynthia Johnston honestly applied the same standards to Dems she did to Bush, her list of liars would include Michael Moore, Hollywood, virtually all academics, most of the American left--and herself. I think she's mistaken--but that doesn't necessarily make her a liar.

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