The President and the Truth [i]or[/i] Milbank and Krugman and Ari, Oh, My!

Well, well. Seems as though one of our media whores got himself some spine. Whodathunkit? Dana Milbank stops short of using the word “liar”. But just barely. I encourage you to read the article in its entirety, but a few nuggets:

“President Bush, speaking to the nation this month about the need to challenge Saddam Hussein, warned that Iraq has a growing fleet of unmanned aircraft that could be used “for missions targeting the United States.” "

Last month, asked if there were new and conclusive evidence of Hussein’s nuclear weapons capabilities, Bush cited a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency saying the Iraqis were “six months away from developing a weapon.” And last week, the president said objections by a labor union to having customs officials wear radiation detectors has the potential to delay the policy “for a long period of time.” "

All three assertions were powerful arguments for the actions Bush sought. And all three statements were dubious, if not wrong. Further information revealed that the aircraft lack the range to reach the United States; there was no such report by the IAEA; and the customs dispute over the detectors was resolved long ago….”


“On Sept. 7, meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair at Camp David, Bush told reporters: "I would remind you that when the inspectors first went into Iraq and were denied, finally denied access, a report came out of the Atomic – the IAEA – that they were six months away from developing a weapon. I don’t know what more evidence we need.

The IAEA did issue a report in 1998, around the time weapons inspectors were denied access to Iraq for the final time, but the report made no such assertion. It declared: “Based on all credible information to date, the IAEA has found no indication of Iraq having achieved its program goal of producing nuclear weapons or of Iraq having retained a physical capability for the production of weapon-useable nuclear material or having clandestinely obtained such material.” The report said Iraq had been six to 24 months away from nuclear capability before the 1991 Gulf War.

The White House said that Bush “was imprecise on this” and that the source was U.S. intelligence, not the IAEA."

And “…Bush’s statement about the Iraqi nuclear defector, implying such information was current in 1998, was a reference to Khidhir Hamza. But Hamza, though he spoke publicly about his information in 1998, retired from Iraq’s nuclear program in 1991, fled to the Iraqi north in 1994 and left the country in 1995.”

And this from the redoubtable Mr. Krugman: “…Also in the last few days, The Wall Street Journal reported that “senior officials have referred repeatedly to intelligence . . . that remains largely unverified.” The C.I.A.'s former head of counterterrorism was blunter: “Basically, cooked information is working its way into high-level pronouncements.” USA Today reports that “pressure has been building on the intelligence agencies to deliberately slant estimates to fit a political agenda.”

“…Right now the administration is playing the war card, inventing facts as necessary, and trying to use the remnants of Mr. Bush’s post-Sept. 11 popularity to gain control of all three branches of government. But then what? There is, after all, no indication that Mr. Bush ever intends to move to the center….”

Now, as many of you already know, Mr. Bush has not lost any credibility with me, he had none to lose. I find myself wondering if he is parroting “facts” because he believes what his handlers tell him, or if he is deliberately misleading the people in pursuit of what he regards as a higher purpose.

As the air slowly leaks out of the War Blimp, and it settles flacidly to the ground, what next? Myself, as I’ve said before, I about half-expect an “incident”, “half-expect” only because of a lingering desire to believe that at least some of these men hold the public in higher esteem than themselves and their grasp on power.

It would seem not.

If your thesis is that President Bush has been presenting information in the format most favorable to his policies, than I would agree.

If you want to go farther and say that this presentation has been factually innacurate on several occasions, I would also agree.

I’ll take your points one at a time:

  1. “Six months away” - The White House said he was imprecise on this. Ok.

  2. “Airplanes with missiles that could target the United States” - Yes, they can’t reach from Iraq. I don’t think that the President said that they could. They can however be launched from a significant distance, and there is a threat from a sea-based launch, a foreign country, or even that one could be smuggled and assembled and launched from remote locations within the U.S. That these long range weapons could be used against the U.S. is in fact true. I personally was never under the impression that Saddam could launch from Iraq and hit the US, as this got clarified very quickly.

  3. “Radiation detectors” - While I think radiation detectors would be a good idea, I think Bush was stretching if not talking completely out of his ass on this one.

  4. “Hamza” - We don’t know for a fact that it was a reference to Hamza but I think it’s a reasonable supposition. Nonetheless, I find the objection rather Picayune on this. If it’s a 1998 report then it seems reasonable to say it’s current from 1998 even if the raw data goes back farther than that. One would expect some extrapolation from the intelligence received.

I think it would be fair to say that Bush is guilty of making the strongest possible assertion that could reasonably be argued from this report.

  1. Krugman - Forgive me, but he and Anne Coulter make a fine pair, and I think his editorials opinins are dismissable.

I would guess that he’s presenting his case in the strongest way possible to support his policy.

I would hope that if he is stretching credibility (and I think he is,) on some points, he’s not doing it out of a “higher purpose,” but because he has to make to do with discussing public information while he has access to more privileged and sensitive information that backs up his case, but which he cannot reveal without compromising his sources.

That’s not far-fetched at all. Clinton was in much the same boat during the “Wag the dog” debacle, and the cruise missiles.

He was under a lot of pressure for what he did, and a lot of acrimony, but I think those actions are vindicated.

It’s proper that Bush fall under similar pressure for justification, and that if his actions are not similarly vindicated that he be called to task for them.

Such are the checks and balances of our system.

Yes. You have to believe that, but you are also right to be suspicious.

I had thought to myself that as much as I personally dislike Bill Clinton it would be a terrible thing to beleive he would take military action that costs lives just to pull attention away from a scandal directed at him, but I still felt very uncomfortable.

Similarly I think you have to believe that Bush is doing this for better reasons than a desire to beat up on the guy that took a potshot at his Dad.

But suspicion and distrust are good as long as you also posit the possibility of good faith.

What Scylla said. Additional opinions on this topic can be found here and here.

What Krugman lacks in accuracy, he makes up for in exuberance. For the sort of thing explained by Scylla, Krugman calls Bush “as slippery and evasive as any politician in memory.” That is, integrity comparable to Clinton and Nixon! Mr Krugman, give us a break.

One could posit good faith if there were some plausible way to flesh out that possibility. Got any good way to explain how good faith could cause him to engage in this behavior pattern in general, or in regard to his proposed Iraq invasion in particular, or is that simply desperately-wishful thinking? It isn’t simple spin, or using the most generous possible interpretations - it is lying.

Not caring about stating the factual truth is just as bad as stating known falsehoods. Either one makes a person a liar. Bush’s intellectual laziness, or simple incuriosity if you wish, is not widely disputed, although it’s widely excused by the hopeful. But it means simply not caring about the truth.

Bush is a chronic liar, and has a number of enablers both close to him and among the citizenry. Some people have simply been much quicker to catch on to that than others. Fortunately for democracy, the lapdog media has been starting to realize they haven’t been doing their jobs on this, and are starting to report it, too - gingerly, lest they attract the liberal=traitor label, but more boldly as they remember ancient lessons about the meaning of responsible participation in the political processes of democracy. So there is hope.

elucidator, you forgot to say “blowjob” this time - can we simply assume that point in the future?


I think elucidator wrote a pretty good OP because he was specific and drew consclusions and suppositions that were specific, rather than vague generalities.

We’ve had a lot of punditry and vagueness lately.

C’mon. You’re better than that. Your just slinging muddy opinion.

Yes. I provided one. I even likened it to a scenario faced by the previous administration.

More convincing though is trying to consider the alternative.

Getting a coalition, and going to war, and taking lives is a very difficult and dangerous course of action and one that is bound to be divisive and costly.

You have to posit a high degree of arbitrariness to assume that he’d do it for fun, and I don’t think that’s a realistic asessment.

Comparing Krugman to Coulter is like comparing comparing Einstein to Hitler. Paul Krugman bases his opinions on facts or tested economic theories, and is probably one of the wisest economic and political thinkers of our time. Ann Coulter is quite the opposite. You may not agree with Krugman on many issues, but I guarantee that he’s got a hell of alot more facts backing up his opinions than you have for yours. Bite your tongue young man!

Oh yes, and if you think Clinton was a liar, Bush beats him by exponential proportions.

—That is, integrity comparable to Clinton and Nixon! Mr Krugman, give us a break.—

I don’t think there is really any any meaningful grounds on which to compare the three, and say that one is a worse liar than the other. Both Clinton and Nixon got caught in a lie in spectacular media fashion: but that hardly makes them more or less likely to bend and break the truth than other Presidents. There are as many cases for Bush’s bending of the truth and blanching his integrity as any of these other two. Though I can’t remember a time when the media has been so soft going on a politician from campaign to presidency.

Comparing Krugman to Coulter is like comparing comparing Einstein to Hitler. Paul Krugman bases his opinions on facts or tested economic theories, and is probably one of the wisest economic and political thinkers of our time. Ann Coulter is quite the opposite. You may not agree with Krugman on many issues, but I guarantee that he’s got a hell of alot more facts backing up his opinions than you have for yours. Bite your tongue young man!

Oh yes, and if you think Clinton was a liar, Bush beats him by exponential proportions.

Opinion, yes, but one with far more factual support (read Milbank, for instance) than the contrary, though. But to continue:

Limiting your discussion to only a single incident, then claiming victory, while ignoring the pattern and any other inconvenient examples. A typical approach for you, though; one you’ve been called out for on multiple occasions.

Well, no shit, Captain Obvious. Which is exactly why we all want the President we’re stuck with to take it seriously, and face facts as they are and not as he might wish them to be.

Oh, and btw, please provide a cite for this little gem:

Read much Tom Clancy, do you?


Ok, Elvis. I won’t make that mistake again.

I may have missed the answer, someone please direct me… but even if Hussein showed up with a nuke * today, * why would he lob it us again?


The fact is that he probably wouldn’t (though he’s probably pretty upset about the whole Gulf War thing.)

Suppose Anne Coulter wrote: “Joe Lieberman is as big a liar as Richard Nixon.” We’d all think that was outrageous. Well, Krugman effectively wrote the same thing about George W. Bush. There’s your comparison.

Coulter is a smart lawyer, and Krugman is a brilliant economist. It’s a shame to see people of this quality in the gutter. It’s a shame that mean-spirited, attack journalism has been the road to success as a pundit for both of them.

Stoid, if Saddam acquires nukes, a likely scenario is tha he would again attack Kuwait and perhaps Saudi Arabia, using the nuclear threat to keep the US and UN from intervening. This scenario could result in terrible consequences, depending on how it played out.

Paul Krugman compared to “Anne of Green Goebbels”? december, tell me you didn’t really say that! Tell me you misjudged your medication, you were deranged by grief over your parakeets sudden demise, Ms. December made you get up in the middle of the night to trim your toenails and it made you surly. I’ll accept almost any excuse. But, Good Lord, man!

Point of fact, Mr. Krugman didn’t really break any news, or make any assertions not already on the table. You got a beef, you got a beef with Milbank. Can you refute any of the assertions made by him/her?

As for Saddam bin Laden and his nukes: if he sets one off, he might as well be sitting on it, for all the good it will do him. Might as well stuff a stick of dynamite up his Nixon and light it with his cigar: AMF.

Almost the same thought expressed in two different ways can have opposite meanings. E.g.

*A. “Darling, when I look at you, time stands still.”

B. “You have a face that would stop a clock.”*

Here are quotes from the two cited articles.

These two quotes look similar. However, Millbank’s version means Bush demonstrates a normal level of Presidential embroidery. Krugman’s version means that Bush is as slippery and evasive as the very worst of “any politician in memory.”

So, Krugman implied that Bush is as slippery as the worst of Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Joseph McCarthy, Jim Trafficant, and Bob Torricelli.

See what I mean?

Well, now that you bring up Tom Clancy you do realize that he wrote a book where a Japanese pilot flew a plane into the Capital Building, right? Clancy, when asked about the book and the 9-11 attacks stated, not verbatum, that he knew planes could be used as weapons but that he didn’t think that 20 people would decide to kill themselves at once. He thought it would be one or two people.

So your little flippant remark about Tom Clancy comes back to bite you on the ass. He predicted that this could happen in a novel. Clancy is very good at understanding weapon systems and how they are used. Obviously he knows a whole lot more than you do.


Yeah, sure, december, but Ann Coulter? Show me a quote where Krugman says something about executing a few liberals pour encourager les autres. A Krugman quote about killing Muslim leaders and converting them to Christianity.

You are trying to make an equivalence between a bit of fever and rabies because both involve a temperature.

Balderdash, sir! Tommyrot!

*Originally posted by elucidator * Show me a quote where Krugman says something about executing a few liberals pour encourager les autres. A Krugman quote about killing Muslim leaders and converting them to Christianity.

Yes, you have a point. They have different styles of nastinesss. Coulter’s style is more flamboyant.

BTW, elucidator, your last two posts used flamboyant figures of speech: Goebbels and rabies. :wink:


I don’t find Anne Coulter to be a dispicable human being because she called Bill Clinton a liar…Good God, if I did that, I would have to say the same about the entire Republican Party and many Dems and others on the left. (Christopher Hitchens for one particularly dramatic example!)

I must say that Bush makes me yearn for liars like Nixon, Torricelli, and Clinton who only (or at least mainly) seem to lie to save their own ass rather than lying about policy matters on a regular basis.


From where I sit, Anne and Paul are pretty much the same. They’re both bores who fabricate on the subject of their political nemesis.