June 30, 2004

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Why Does Nicholas Kristof Have a Job? Edition)

Andrew Northrup reads Nicholas Kristof, and his head explodes:

The Poor Man: He's Not A Liar, He's My President!: Nicolas Kristof is sick and tired of people calling the President a liar. And he's got lots of arguments about why this is a terrible thing to do:

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.

Indeed. It is wrong to call the President a liar, because that's a bad word. Liberals should think of a nicer way of couching their criticism. Kristoff gives an example:

In fact, of course, Mr. Bush did stretch the truth. The run-up to Iraq was all about exaggerations, but not flat-out lies. Indeed, there's some evidence that Mr. Bush carefully avoids the most blatant lies — witness his meticulous descriptions of the periods in which he did not use illegal drugs.

See? The President doesn't lie, he only exaggerates, maybe stretches the truth on occassion, possibly says things in such a way as to deliberately leave the listener with the wrong impression. Indeed, there's some evidence that Mr. Bush carefully avoids the most blatant lies - and if maybe perhaps carefully avoiding the most blatant lies isn't an adequate standard of truthfulness to hold the President to, well, I just don't know what this country is coming to.

There's the usual litany - Michael Moore is a uncritical conspiracy theorist (true), ergo the President is truthful (false); calling the President a liar is like accusing Bill Clinton of murder; Bush always says the wrong thing, so maybe everything was just a big misunderstanding; liberals are turning into what they hate the most; etc. Largely unexplored, however, is the issue of whether or not Bush is a liar. Let's explore it:

He has lied about his time in the National Guard, and lied about his criminal history. He lied about his relationship with Ken Lay, he lied about who would benefit from his tax cuts, and he lied about stem cells. He lied about his visit to Bob Jones University, he lied about why he wouldn't meet with Log Cabin Republicans, and he lied about reading the EPA report on global warming. He lied about blaming the Clinton administration for the second intifada, he lies constantly about how he pays no attention to polls, he lied about how he loves New York, and he lied about moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. He lied about finding WMD in Iraq, he lied about making his decision to go to war, he lied about the CIA's dismissal of the yellowcake rumors, and he lied about the IAEA's assessment of Iraq's nuclear program. He lied about funding the fight against AIDS in Africa, he lied about when the recession started, and he lied about seeing the first plane hit the WTC. He lied about supporting the Patient Protection Act, and he lied about his deficit spending, and now my wrist hurts.

These are all lies, told by the President himself. This doesn't include any distortions, half-truths, or exaggerations, or any lies told by senior figures in the administration. These lies are big and small. Together, these lies involve trillions of dollars and at least tens of thousands of deaths, and Nicolas Kristoff is terribly concerned about sharp words and Michael Moore movies. It is indeed too bad that the "political cesspool" is becoming polarized, but I don't think that the solution to this is to shoot the messenger and agonize over ever-finer definitions of falsehood. It shouldn't be this difficult to get your priorities in order.

[UPDATE: If anyone needs help prioritizing, Tim Dunlop has a handy list of what is important and what isn't.]

Why does Nicholas Kristof still have a job?

Posted by DeLong at June 30, 2004 01:27 PM | TrackBack | | Other weblogs commenting on this post
Comments

I saw that post as well. It's a great post.

Do you think Fahrenheit 9/11 will bring back the issue of when Bush lied about seeing the first plane hit the towers on live TV? When there was no TV footage on the first plane hitting the towers until that evening?

Posted by: KevinNYC on June 30, 2004 01:33 PM

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It is not lying. Bush is a post-modernist.

http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?pt=87ZOPwwqxUtOFjp6lJXV%2Bh%3D%3D

Lying is not Bush's biggest problem. The big problem is really bad policies that have terrible consequences and no mechanism to debate, alter, improve or reject them. The lying is just rubbing salt in the wounds his policies inflict.

Posted by: bakho on June 30, 2004 01:54 PM

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Start a contest to find the most politically correct term for a truth challenged president.

Posted by: spencer on June 30, 2004 01:57 PM

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Liberals don't really mind dishonesty. It's not lying that bothers them so much. It's just when the liar is from the other political party that they get really pissed off about it.

Posted by: danithew on June 30, 2004 02:21 PM

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Let's not forget the ever-popular, "I fell off my bike because it was raining and slick."

Posted by: Josh Yelon on June 30, 2004 02:23 PM

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Oh, he's a liar all right...

-------------------

1. Published on Saturday, July 20, 2002 in the Boston Globe:

"Is Iraq a True Threat to the US?"

http://www.commondreams.org/views02/0721-02.htm

-------------------

2. Published on Friday, August 16, 2002 in the New York Times:

"Top Republicans Break With Bush on Iraq Strategy"

http://americanassembler.com/issues/iraq_gate/prewar_warnings/Top%20Republicans%20Break.html

-------------------

3. "Inspectors Call U.S. Tips 'Garbage'": Feb. 20, 2003

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/01/18/iraq/main537096.shtml

-------------------

4. "Star Witness on Iraq Said Weapons Were Destroyed: Bombshell revelation from a defector cited by White House and press": February 27, 2003

http://www.fair.org/press-releases/kamel.html

-------------------

5. Published on Friday, March 14, 2003 by the Los Angeles Times

"Democracy Domino Theory 'Not Credible: A State Department report disputes Bush's claim that ousting Hussein will spur reforms in the Mideast, intelligence officials say"

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/0314-06.htm

-------------------

...Either that or he TRULY IS dumber than the proverbial "rock"...

-------------------

6. "Mr. Bush's War": Aug. 22, 2002

http://www.bigeye.com/082202.htm

-------------------

7. "Marketing Iraq: Why now?": September 12, 2002

http://www.cnn.com/2002/ALLPOLITICS/09/12/schneider.iraq/

-------------------

8. "Blood Money": Thursday 27 February 2003

http://www.truthout.org/cgi-bin/artman/exec/view.cgi?archive=1&num=53


Posted by: Mike on June 30, 2004 02:25 PM

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My mistake - the Bush/Bike thing was a lie, but not directly from his mouth.

Posted by: Josh Yelon on June 30, 2004 02:26 PM

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From www.m-w.com; Note #2:


Main Entry: 3lie
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): lied; ly·ing /'lI-i[ng]/
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English lEogan; akin to Old High German liogan to lie, Old Church Slavonic lugati
intransitive senses
1 : to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive
2 : to create a false or misleading impression

Posted by: ogmb on June 30, 2004 02:38 PM

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Why does Paul Krugman still have a job?

Posted by: Larry Jones on June 30, 2004 02:48 PM

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"Why does Nicholas Kristof still have a job?"

Because Michael Moore can't do *everything* for you folks.

Posted by: Jim Glass on June 30, 2004 02:53 PM

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MY GOD!!! A POLITICIAN WHO LIES!!!!

Tell me...is perjury considered lying or is just a vast right wing conspiracy? Where was your outrage then?

Posted by: Neppie on June 30, 2004 03:04 PM

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Nicholas Kristof may not be the sharpest observer of the domestic political scene, but his singular focus on the genocide in Darfur buys him a lot of moral capital (in my books). Whether he dances away from calling GWB something unpleasant doesn't really detract from his work on attracting a devestating humanitarian crisis.

Posted by: Sean M. on June 30, 2004 03:04 PM

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MY GOD!!! A POLITICIAN WHO LIES!!!!

Tell me...is perjury considered lying or is it just a vast right wing conspiracy? Where was your outrage then?

Posted by: Neppie on June 30, 2004 03:05 PM

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Nicholas Kristof clearly holds liberals and Democrats to a higher standard than he does conservatives and the Republicans. I don't recall that he ever protested the pollution of our political discourse during the "hunting" of President Clinton. He is not consistent in his opinions and therefore has trashed whatever credibility and reputation he's built in his journalistic career. He does not deserve such a prominent position with the New York Times.

Posted by: Mushinronsha on June 30, 2004 03:09 PM

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Maybe the keystone of all Bush lies is the one that at some point(s) he told himself. That is, that he knows what to do to lead this country well.

Posted by: S.W. Anderson on June 30, 2004 03:20 PM

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Why does Kristoff still have a job?

Maybe it's because of his Pullitzer Prize, his brilliance, his mastery of several difficult languages, his incredible work ethic. Or maybe it's his memorable writing on (off the top of my head) subjects such as genocide in Darfur, the cost of drilling in ANWR, snowmobiles in Yellowstone, fistulas in Africa, sex slavery in southeast Asia, the status of women in Iran, etc.

Kristoff would have to write about a hundred columns as boneheaded as this one before his reputation began to suffer.

Saying he should be fired is silly, about on par with a six-year-old calling someone a doodyhead.

Posted by: Chef Ragout on June 30, 2004 03:35 PM

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I've got to go with Sean M. and Chef Ragout. The article is moronic, Bush is a liar, and Kristof is a hero.

Posted by: David J. Balan on June 30, 2004 03:39 PM

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Why do some people continue to equate repeating the same lie about consensual sex with lying all the time about everything? (Neppie is how one of my raised-in-England grandchildren prounces the British word for diaper.)
On the model of kings named The Bold, The Fat, The Lionhearted..., I suggest George the Mendacious.

Posted by: Brian Boru on June 30, 2004 03:47 PM

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(Maybe KRISTOF still has his job because he writes what BILL KELLER

http://www.nytco.com/company-executives-bkeller.html

likes to read ;-)

--------------------

Maybe SOMEBODY should put the question

( public@nytimes.com )to DANIEL OKRENT
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/06/27/weekinreview/27bott.html

Posted by: Mike on June 30, 2004 03:54 PM

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I'll grant that Bush is a liar and that he lies about important, public policy matters rather than sins of the flesh. However, let's not confuse instances of his being honestly wrong with instances of his being a liar. For example, it's not clear to me that Bush could have known at the time his stem cell decision that only 11 lines were viable.

Posted by: poster on June 30, 2004 04:00 PM

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How does Kristof feel about Alan Murray?

http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/movable_type/2004_archives/001023.html

Maybe he's just trying to lend respectability to linguistic nonsense that attempts to distinguish the Bush's daily dishonesty from outright lies. Murray not only tried to make the same distinction, but offered an argument that has a similar ring to it. Kristof doesn't want to contribute the the cesspool. Murray doesn't want to impugn Bush's character (his what?) because "if the day comes when Americans conclude that all presidents are liars, then all presidents will lose the incentive to tell the truth." So we should avoid calling a spade a spade because it degrades public discourse? But what if, by not calling Bush a liar, we encourage even greater degradation to public discourse? What if other aspirants to the office conclude that the standard of honesty for presidents is so low that no lie, no matter how momentus its impact, will be called a lie in the press?

Maybe these guys have a hidden scruple? Maybe they have finally realized that their profession contributed so massively to the undermining of public discourse during the Clinton witch-hunt, that they now want to make amends. 'Cause I don't see how lying about every damn thing that comes along, and very, very frequently on matters of public policy, makes Bush more honest (that was essentially Murray's point) than Clinton, whose lies revolved mostly around his private indiscretions.

Posted by: kharris on June 30, 2004 04:02 PM

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Poster,
He may not have know that only 11 lines were viable but he did know perfectly well that he didn't search his soul and wrestle his conscience for the answer, and instead tried to please everyone with a lame punt on the issue.

Posted by: Gordon on June 30, 2004 04:14 PM

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Kristof notes many bad things about Bush: zealot, consipracy theorist, truth stretcher, prevaricator, misleads with not-quite-straight-out-lies, too confused to know what he is talking about. So his prescription how to avoid polarization is dubious.

Equally dubious is the reason why we should avoid polarization of political cesspool. Cesspool should be drained and/or sanitized, and just leaving it undisturbed will only increase the stink.

Posted by: Piotr on June 30, 2004 04:27 PM

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"is perjury considered lying or is just a vast right wing conspiracy? Where was your outrage then?"

WIIBUBCBJWA? ITTWLW!

Posted by: ogmb on June 30, 2004 04:29 PM

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The only thing I don't agree with is Northrup's opinion that "Michael Moore is an uncritical conspiracy theorist" is true.

Posted by: Lee A. on June 30, 2004 04:46 PM

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Kristoff still has a job because he is workign for people who are significantly worse than he is. Between careerism and some kind of idea that the Times management consensus (or as Somerby says, "script") deserves respect, he ends up trimming the way he does.

He may also be a token honky. He's a small-town white boy from here in Oregon. Salt of the earth and shit.

Posted by: zizka / John Emerson on June 30, 2004 05:04 PM

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Larry asks "Why does Paul Krugman still have a job?"

Because he is smarter than you? I don't see your syndicated column anywhere.

Posted by: me on June 30, 2004 05:20 PM

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I haven't seen the Times circulation figures, but do wonder whether the pablum-izing of the paper isn't going to show in the bottom line soon.
I care what Krugman and Rich have to say, but no one else on the paper. If I can get them and the theatre/movies reviews online, why shell out $24 a month for the weekend home delivery?

Posted by: Bob H on June 30, 2004 05:39 PM

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This post is really juvenile. Bush lied (?!) because he said "I love New York" when he really doesn't? I guess every politician who said "What a beautiful baby!" will have to be impeached. Seriously, Mr. DeLong's complete lack of proportion or common sense reminds me of my 10-year-old daughter.

More substantively, if there was anyone who was a master at misleading while not saying anything literally untrue, it was Bill Clinton. (Hence the "Slick Willie" sobriquet.) So if Mr. DeLong thinks that this is a major failing, and he had any moral integrity, he should have been denouncing Clinton for eight years.

Posted by: Cal '85 on June 30, 2004 05:41 PM

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He lied when he claimed to be a uniter, not
a divider. He lied when he said his would
be a humble administration, such that a WaPo
op-ed piece early on referred to the incoming
Uriah Heep administration. More like Wackford
Squeers.

Lying about an affair is a joke, my boy.

Posted by: Hedley Lamarr on June 30, 2004 05:42 PM

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bakho thinks we're missing the boat; the real issue is policy formation and implementation.
Sure. If we have a press that can do it's job, that is.
Trouble is the press/media have largely caved in since 9/11 and now most people regard that (TV for sure) as an entertainment source, no?
So the implementation of policy (what?) is reported uncritically.
Let's expand our dimensions of criticism here beyond lying. It's biased, unfair, incomplete, irregular, inadequate and fails in so many ways to inform the public that a movie like Fahenheit can cause a stampede.

Posted by: calmo on June 30, 2004 05:59 PM

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Stop; please look at the big picture. As bakho says, lying is not Bush's problem. He's an incompetent zealot and probably believes most of what he says. Nicholas Kristof is better than most journalists. He is not an apologist for GWB. Consider this, "But considering the odd things the president often says ("I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family"), Mr. Bush always has available a prima facie defense of confusion.

Mr. Bush's central problem is not that he was lying about Iraq, but that he was overzealous and self-deluded. He surrounded himself with like-minded ideologues, and they all told one another that Saddam was a mortal threat to us. They deceived themselves along with the public — a more common problem in government than flat-out lying."
Every President has lied during his time in office, even Abraham Lincoln. Every President has some foolish moments- thank God that Lincoln didn't allow himself to be videotaped. The Bush-Ashcroft policies are terrible and threaten our security and our civil rights.
Save some pressure for John Kerry- the tax cuts he has proposed add to monster dollars. I'll vote for Kerry, but getting Bush out won't end the serious problems facing our country. Congress won’t watch the shop- ordinary citizens will need to keep a lot of pressure on Kerry, especially if he brings in Carlyle group members.

Posted by: anciano on June 30, 2004 06:03 PM

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With all due respect to Professor DeLong - anybody
who seriously wonders why Nick Kristof has a job
hasn't taken the time to read him. He is a champion of the voiceless - read him on Sudan, for example - or on women's rights - he has taken his column to places and issues that most bigmedia journalists don't ever write - or probably even think about.

Posted by: Eddie Sutton on June 30, 2004 06:30 PM

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It should be reiterated that as a POLITICAL issue, Bush's lying takes a back seat to his general incompetence in the Iraqi occupation, one adverse result being the enormous melding of nationalism and terrorism that now ensues.

Otherwise his opponents may be accused with the charge that they would rather Saddam were still in power.

(That may in fact be the view of some military strategists!--because we had Saddam fairly contained, and under watch, and he in turn had his country under vicious lockdown--but it would be a difficult sell to the electorate.)

Bush is a liar, sure, but far worse for America: he's a shortsighted stumbler.

(The same rhetoric can apply to his fiscal policy.)

Read in this way, Kristof is making much the same point.

Posted by: Lee A. on June 30, 2004 06:40 PM

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the world would be a much better place if bush were simply a liar. that implies he knows the truth.

what scares the hell out of me is that bush truly believes the crap that comes out of his mouth. in that sense bush is far far worse than nixon

Posted by: kit on June 30, 2004 06:58 PM

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I agree with bakho that American political discussion should be reality- and policy-oriented, whereas I do not agree with Pat Robertson that Armageddon is nigh, but if I were a betting man I'd put my money on Armageddon coming before American politics becomes rational.

That's why I'm in the pro-Michael-Moore camp -- he knows how to persuade intuitive gut thinkers who don't pay close attention to anything. They're not the majority, but they're an extraordinarily hefty swing demographic.

Posted by: zizka / John Emerson on June 30, 2004 07:21 PM

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His work on China with Sheryl WuDunn was really rather good for the time he was doing it. But as with all the "fact checking" by the media of F9/11, the big question is: where was the fact checking in the leadup to the war? And with Kristoff, the related question is: what about the current situation maked him think we can afford to keep such taboos sacrosanct, or that we have an obligation to extend such a courtesy unilaterally?

Posted by: MarkC on June 30, 2004 07:33 PM

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There is a huge difference between Farenheit 911 and The Clinton Chronicles.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/6303293581/002-7843561-9032049?v=glance

The Clinton Chronicles (a great hoot) is all unsubstantiated innuendo. 911 stays close to the truth.

People rallied around Clinton because his policies improved their lives. People are abandoning Mr Bush because his policies have not worked.

The Krugman "Error on Terror" column works, not because PK called Bush a liar, but because PK juxtaposes the Bush rhetoric,

"I am instructing the leaders of the F.B.I., the C.I.A., the Homeland Security and the Department of Defense to develop a Terrorist Threat Integration Center, to merge and analyze all threat information in a single location. Our government must have the very best information possible."

with the Bush results,

"Among other things, the center took over the job of preparing the government's annual report on "Patterns of Global Terrorism." The latest report, released in April, claimed to document a sharp fall in terrorism. "You will find in these pages clear evidence that we are prevailing in the fight," Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage declared. But this week the government admitted making major errors. In fact, in 2003 the number of significant terrorist attacks reached a 20-year peak."

The question of lying does not even have to be debated. If the debate is whether or not Bush is telling the truth, then Bush wins. If the debate is whether Bush produced the results he claimed, then Bush loses. Lying or incompetence? Does it matter? Which is worse? Mr Bush claims accurate information is important? Did he deliver? No. Lying or incompetence? You decide.

This is why Farenheit 911 is so effective. It does not call Mr. Bush a liar (Kristof gets this among other things wrong although he is correct that calling Bush a liar is not helpful.). The film lets Mr Bush speak for himself, then portrays the results of his policies. For sure, the film dwells on Bush failures, not Bush successes. But can anyone think of a lot of successes?

The Kirstof piece is a mess.

Posted by: bakho on June 30, 2004 08:03 PM

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I just read that the various departments under the Homeland Security umbrella still haven't got working, compatible computer systems. The article made it seem that the average bright HS student has more computer power and smarts than Homeland Security does.

Posted by: zizka / John Emerson on June 30, 2004 09:37 PM

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I think that the issue with Moore isn't really accuracy or honesty. There are some quibbles (the Afghan pipeline, Rep. Kennedy's nephew, the Saudi percentage of ownership of America) but most of what he says is OK.

It's first, his polemical tone, which conservatives don't like because it's against them, and liberals don't like because liberals really are pretty nice people (except for me -- Patrick Sullivan, go fuck yourself).

Second, it's the impressionistic,insinuating, filmic method, which does not make what we would call arguments grounded on data. But that's what works with intuitive gut thinkers.

I just refuse to lusten to any conservative or Republican complaining about Moore. If they really objected to that kind of stuff in principle, they couldn't be Republicans. Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Hannity, and Bush himself do worse all the time, and then you have the whole Clinton impeachment. They gained power by the worst kinds of nastiness and dishonesty.

Posted by: zizka / John Emerson on June 30, 2004 09:45 PM

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Calling your political opponents "liars" is a time-honored political tactic. The pedigree of this tactic is established beyond all doubt and cannot be disputed by anybody who has even half seriously studied the political history of this country.

Now one can condemn this tactic, especially when the charge is false, but there is no denying its effacacy. Like advertising, it works. Similarly, just look how the oft repeated charges against "liberals" has become embedded in the typical right wing psyche: "elitists" (demonstrably false); "un-patriotic" (on its face, laughable); and last, but not least, "socialists" (they wouldn't know real socialists if they wore signs). Bush is just the current charicaturistic embodiment of a political movement that is built on what is termed in polite company as fabrications.

If the shoe fits, wear it. George W. Bush is a damnned liar. The sheer number of fibs is damnning in and of itself, leaving Clinton in the dust (He of the one little white lie that nobody believed to begin with).

A person of Kristof's otherwise sound judgement and record should have been aware of the inherently untenable thesis of the whole column. I guess even he is entitled to a clinker now and then. But why this? This verges on mendacity.

Posted by: bobbyp on June 30, 2004 09:59 PM

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I remember back when right-wingers supposedly hated "moral relativism".

Now look at them, spinning Bush's lies against Clinton's. Pathetic. And completely expected.

Posted by: Ras_Nesta on June 30, 2004 10:13 PM

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If you can figure out why Miller, Safire, Brooks, and Seeyle have jobs there, then maybe you can begin to formulate a theory on Kristoff.

Posted by: Kuas on June 30, 2004 11:38 PM

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Nearly all the professional "liberals" in the WP and NYT are tearing their hair out, trying to reconcile "being nice" with political reality. Even as Cheney screams "Fuck you" to a top Senator, the professional ninnies at these papers whine about us liberals being angry and calling a bunch of lying thieves, "liars".

Well, FUCK YOU, Kristoff.

Posted by: Elaine Supkis on July 1, 2004 02:17 AM

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Bakho has it absolutely right.

Bush's central flaw is not that he is a liar, having carefully considered the right course, dismissed it because it didn't serve his interests, and then deliberately constructing a falsehood to cover his position. This was how Nixon lied, not W.

Bush's central flaw is that he isn't very interested in any of the heavy lifting involved in considering the right course to start with. His lies result from a core superficiality. This is worse than being liar, in some ways.

Clinton lied, but mostly about personal stuff, and we mostly forgave him because he was substantive and interested in the complexity of policy. W leaves all of this to people like Rummy, sadly.

Posted by: Jim Harris on July 1, 2004 05:14 AM

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Kristof's column is especially rich when read in conjunction with Bill Keller's recent defense of Michiko Kakutani's right to say that Clinton had "told lies about real estate" [i.e. Whitewater]. Eric Boehlert of Salon says that Keller responded to his query about this by upholding "a critic's right" to her language on the grounds that "The Ray report, for example, said they were prone to statements that were 'factually inaccurate.'"

So, if we follow Times-columnist Kristoff, so long as a politician (at least one named Bush) stays outside the boundaries of demonstrable felony perjury, calling him a liar is a threat to the nation's soul, or at least its mental health. But if we believe Keller, the Times's standard on such matters is that so long as a politician's personal prosecutor is willing to say he has been "factually inaccurate," calling that politician (at least one named Clinton) a liar is good hard journalism. Damned liberal media.

Posted by: Jeffrey Kramer on July 1, 2004 05:36 AM

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My best (nasty) comment about Kristof is that, if I were setting up a false front democracy, with a tame press, I'd have him high on my list of 'opposition' columnists.

Posted by: Barry on July 1, 2004 06:39 AM

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ok,
did anyone notice the famous pretzel incident and its repercussions.

Press release:

President bumbs his face on table. They said it happened when he ate a pretzel, it gt stuck, causing him to choke, pass out and bang his face on a table.

How many people do you know that this type of calamity happens to. I saw something similar choreographed in an old 3 stooges episode. Curly is eating snapper soup, and the clam comes out a bites his nose. Curly then smacks the table and soup, he then goes to war with the clam.
Even Ex-President Ford, who stumbled often leaving Air-Force One, simpy stated: "I fell"
and the press just spread around the Prez is clumsy. It is not embarrasing to be clumsy...but to lie about it in such a pretzel logic way is telling; and part of a deeper pattern!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Dave S. on July 1, 2004 11:18 AM

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Come on, guys: Kristof's sense of propriety and political correctness may not appeal to you (though I actually think political correctness and propriety are kinda good things, a society needing mores blah blah blah), but he's one of the better writers and better journalists out there. I'll grant that this column isn't one of his best, but overall, he's been right about a lot since I've been reading him. Among NYTimes op-eders, I'd rate him #2, after Krugman. Certainly his investigations are better than Brooks' or Friedman's airy impressionism, and he's sane, unlike "Kofigate" Safire or Dowd. And he... uh... catches my attention more than Bob Herbert, whose columns always seem honest, well-reasoned, and make my eyes glaze over.

Posted by: Julian Elson on July 2, 2004 08:06 AM

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"Why Does Nicholas Kristof Have a Job?"

My goodness. Because of this. And this, this, and this, and this.

I was offline for much of the past two weeks, Brad, so that's probably where you've had your own posts on Darfur. I strongly suspect that hundreds of thousands, or at least tens of thousands, of people may not die because of Nicholas Kristof's willingness to use his platform to travel to genocidal hell-holes to write about them.

Perhaps that's just a tad important?

Motherfricking co--

Blogs that don't allow links, with no warning, send me up the wall. Great. Now I have to go find and copy them all over again.

http://amygdalagf.blogspot.com/2004/06/powell-in-darfur.html

http://amygdalagf.blogspot.com/2004/06/meaning-of-genocide.html

http://amygdalagf.blogspot.com/2004/05/sudan.html

http://amygdalagf.blogspot.com/2003/05/what-did-you-do-nicholas-kristoff.html

http://amygdalagf.blogspot.com/2002/06/virtues-of-third-world-sweatshops-are.html

Posted by: Gary Farber on July 2, 2004 10:13 AM

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Thanks for the added effort to get those links GF.

Staying informed isn't easy.

Posted by: calmo on July 2, 2004 03:43 PM

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FAHENHEIT 911 DEGREES IS HOTTER THAN 451

Ray Bradbury is pissed at M. Moore, claiming he wants his title back. Duh???? It's not the same title, Ray. True, paper burns at 451 degree but it takes 911 degrees to burn up the U.S. Constitution. That is what Moore claims Bush has done in attacking Iraq.

Moore's piece is a satirical cartoon. Still he is attacked for distorting the truth. Duh???? No cartoonist is ever held to any standard of realism. Their craft is based on distortion—the morphing of people into ideas. Which is exactly what Moore does in F-911.

His first attempt at satire is to ask: Are Americans sleep walking? Are the last four years but a dream? He implies that if Americans don't soon wake up to what is happening, figures like Donald Rumsfeld will soon morph into past figures that were named, for example, Hermann Goering, Hitler's Reich-Marshall.

At the Nuremberg Trials after WW II, Goering said the following: "But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, ....All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country." (April 18, 1946, interview with Gustave Gilbert in his book, NUREMBERG DIARY.)

Moore is clever in making Bush the star of his movie. Sure he must drag the lines spoken out of context to make his points, but that is the fodder for all current political ads. What he does best is to graphically show how the nation of sheep followed the leader into this abyss. For example, he shows two Marine recruiters rounding up the needed cannon fodder like a pimp at the bus station stalking runaway teenage girls.

Make no mistake, the hundreds of audiences from coast to coast who took time to applaud after watching F-911, got the message and woke up. There are, of course, many in Iraq who will never awaken again. They did not, however, die in vain.

And no, Ray Bradbury, you can't have your title back.

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