Tuesday, March 28, 2006

George W. Bush: He means what he says, ambiguously speaking.

There's a certain amusing surrealism to watching White House Press Weasel Scott McClellan explain how absolutely every single thing President Chimpy McFlightSuit ever said didn't exactly mean what everyone thought it meant at the time.

As the perfect example, we have Holden's ongoing obsession with the gaggle here, during which Li'l Scottie has to re-interpret and spin and dodge and weave and tap dance and indulge in little bits of historical revisionism and and so on.

This is, of course, amusing since part of Commander Chimpy's populist appeal was that he was the steely-eyed rocket man, the straight-shooting, straight-talking, tell-it-like-it-is Texan whose word you could always count on:

[Bush] liked to brag sometimes in the campaign "You know who I am--I say what I mean and I mean what I say." Actually, it wasn't bragging, for it was true.

One of Bush's absolutely favourite expressions is "Let me be clear" -- he's a man who has no time for any of that namby-pamby, liberal, left-wing, gray-area "nuanciness." Which makes it all the more entertaining that, these days, everything that ever came out of his mouth has to be re-read carefully to appreciate what he was really saying at the time, and it has to be put in its proper "context," of course, otherwise you're simply "mischaracterizing" what he said and that would be bad.

The rootin', tootin', straight-shootin' George Bush suddenly discovering the joy of nuance. Who would have guessed?

FURTHER PONDERING: The more I think about this, the more I believe that the White House Press Corps should really be pounding this point home to take away some of Li'l Scottie's favourite talking points.

When asked a question he doesn't like, McClellan frequently dodges it with something like, "The President has discussed that before and he's been very clear about it so I would just say you should look at the record." But at this point, it would be entirely appropriate for any reporter to respond with something like:

But Scott, how are we supposed to just go back and look at the record when you so frequently tell us that we're not representing it properly, or that we're 'mischaracterising' it or that we're not putting it in the proper context?

This administration has now, on countless occasions, made what seemed to be at the time fairly unambiguous claims, only to start re-interpreting them down the road. You can"t dismiss questions by telling us to look at the record, then reject our interpretation of that record when we do.

For example, I think it's fair to ask, does this administration believe Saddam Hussein was involved in the terrorist attacks of 9/11? If I were to go back to "the record," I can show numerous examples where this administration claimed exactly that. But if I make that suggestion to you today, I'm sure you'll tell me that that's not true and that I'm mischaracterising or quoting out of context or something to that effect.

So I think it's not unreasonable to ask, how do we know which administration claims we should take at face value, and which claims will suddenly be re-interpreted down the road to mean something totally different from what we all understood them to mean at the time? How do we do that?

Yes, I'm dreaming. It happens.

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