October 17, 2003

Why Does the Bush Administration Lie All the Time?

Matthew Yglesias wonders why the Bush administration lies all the time--this time about botulinum:

TAPPED: October 2003 Archives: Long story short: There's no threat here. This raises the question of why, exactly, Kay's team and the gang at the White House are trying to convince people that there is. Politically speaking, obfuscation is an effective strategy on this subject, since it's easy to get confused between the botulinum B bacteria (not dangerous, found in Iraq) and the botulinum A neurotoxin (dangerous, not found in Iraq). I myself made this mistake, but I'm not a biologist and I'm certainly not a biowarfare expert. This tactic -- saying things that are true in such a way as to get people to believe things that are false -- has become a prominent feature of the administration's public relations strategy...

Matthew: they lie all the time because they are genuinely bad people, and because the American press corps lets them get away with it.

Posted by DeLong at October 17, 2003 12:46 PM | TrackBack


One wonders whether Brad applies the same interpretation to the Clinton administrations constant lies (they lied because they were genuinely bad people, and the press let them get away with it). Or did their lies somehow emerge from pure motives?

Posted by: Lugo on October 17, 2003 02:40 PM


Let's unpack Lugo's argument, a fairly typical Bush apologist's rejoinder. In essence, it goes like this: Liberals complain about Bush lies; they did not complain about Clinton lies; ergo, Liberals are hypocrits.

I think Socrates had the best response to this type of diversionary tactic. He would have said, "Maybe you are right, Mr. Bush Apologist, that I should have condemned the 'constant lies' of the Clinton administration in real time. Since you, by your own statement, must possess a much keener appreciation for honest statement by our elected officials, perhaps you might explain (for example) why Mr. Kay did not tell us that the vial contained merely a common bacteria, and not a deadly toxin?

Posted by: joe on October 17, 2003 03:53 PM


Saying, "Maybe you are right . . . .," of course, necessarily implies, "Maybe you are wrong . . . ."

Posted by: joe on October 17, 2003 03:59 PM


@Lugo: Can you name the lies?

Posted by: Sam on October 17, 2003 04:33 PM


The press did not let Clinton get away with his lies. They showed Clinton's saying "I did not have sex with that woman" over and over and over again after it came out that he did, in fact, have sexual relations with her.

The difference is that nobody died when Clinton lied. His lies were were merely annoying, pathetic and disgraceful. That's why nobody was especially outraged except for right-wingers who already hated Clinton anyway. Bush's lies, on the other hand, are monstrous.

Posted by: rps on October 17, 2003 04:41 PM


See what I mean? Now we're talking about Clinton and whether he lied or not. We're way off topic. Everybody already has an opinion about Clinton and his credibility, and arguing about Clinton will never change anybody's opinion. But it does distract us from the real issue - Bush's deceit.

Posted by: joe on October 17, 2003 05:30 PM


Where are the Roman numerals?

Posted by: john c. halasz on October 18, 2003 07:57 AM


>>The difference is that nobody died when Clinton lied.

I gather you don't count the Sudanese pharmaceutical factory.

Of course Clinton is a genuinely bad person. But that has zero relevance to whether Bush and Co. are genuinely bad people.

Posted by: drapetomaniac on October 18, 2003 07:16 PM


It is not true that "nobody died" because of Clinton's lies. Under him the State Dept said that 500,000 Kosovo Albanians were missing presumed dead to justify the bombing of Yugoslavia. The true figure was probably about 1000 (but this figure is overwhelmingly KLA killed in combat & Albanians killed by the KLA). As a result of the war begun on these lies 2,500 died in the war & probably 8,000 under the Nato occupation.

Posted by: Neil Craig on October 19, 2003 05:19 PM


"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11, 2001. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well affects American security." -- Hillary Clinton, October 10, 2002

Posted by: Hillary Lied Too.. on December 15, 2003 11:45 PM


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