San Diego Soliloquies

Monday, January 19, 2004

Pseudo-Autodidact and Shut-in Clausewitz Can't Read

Over at the USS Clueless, Steve den Beste tells us all about: An imminent big lie.

You see, in the first two paragraphs of an article in Sunday's Washington Post, Glenn Kessler wrote:

    The Bush administration's inability to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq -- after public statements declaring an imminent threat posed by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein -- has begun to harm the credibility abroad of the United States and of American intelligence, according to foreign policy experts in both parties.
    In last year's State of the Union address, President Bush used stark imagery to make the case that military action was necessary. Among other claims, Bush said that Hussein had enough anthrax to "kill several million people," enough botulinum toxin to "subject millions of people to death by respiratory failure" and enough chemical agents to "kill untold thousands."

So Steven gets all hot under the collar:

    They say, "Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity", but we seem to have gone beyond any possible stupidity now. Have we reached the point where we can assume there's a conspiracy to spread a big lie? And where we can safely dismiss the opinions of anyone who repeats it?
    ...
    That [referring to the second paragraph of the Kessler article] was the SOTU address where Bush said that we could not afford to wait until such threats became "imminent". AAaargh!

Steven thinks that when people say:

    There is already a mountain of evidence that Saddam Hussein is gathering weapons for the purpose of using them. And adding additional information is like adding a foot to Mount Everest. Ari Fleischer, Press Secretary, 9/6/2002
    or
    Iraq has stockpiled biological and chemical weapons, and is rebuilding the facilities used to make more of those weapons. We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons -- the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have George W. Bush, President, 10/5/2002
    or
    The president of the United States and the secretary of defense would not assert as plainly and bluntly as they have that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction if it was not true, and if they did not have a solid basis for saying it Ari Fleischer, Press Secretary, 12/4/2002
    or
    There can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more. And he has the ability to dispense these lethal poisons and diseases in ways that can cause massive death and destruction. If biological weapons seem too terrible to contemplate, chemical weapons are equally chilling Colin Powell, Secretary of State, 2/5/2003
    Etc.

that we should ignore all these statements, including those that came after the State of the Union address, and focus on that fact that in the State of the Union address Bush said we should strike before it's "imminent". The intention of the article is that our friends, allies, and even internal consumers of our intelligence have to wonder what the product is worth now. Every single one of those statements that Bush made in the SOTU is a nail in the coffin of our credibility.

The best part of Steven's little diatribe though, is that it proves he (and Glenn Reynolds) can't read for content anymore, just ideology. In the first paragraph, Kessler says:

    ...after public statements declaring an imminent threat posed by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein

In the second paragraph, Kessler writes:

    In last year's State of the Union address, President Bush used stark imagery to make the case that military action was necessary.

The first statement, by using what normal English speakers realize is a plural, Kessler implies that there was more than one statement on more than one occasion. In the second statement, Kessler is describing a differing tactic that supplemented the "public statements declaring an imminent threat" a tactic where "President Bush used stark imagery to make the case", rather than the declarative statements Kessler described in paragraph one. See how flexible a working vocabulary is?

By the way, all the statements above are stolen from Billmon, who provides an easy sortable list of the um, "mistakes"(?) Bush and his folks made. Remember, "Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity".


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