Thursday, January 20, 2005

Honesty: Never the Best Policy

In response to Tim Dunlop's "The Road to Surfdom" post about Richard Armitage's recent outbreak of honesty, the good doctor says:

One problem is that, because it's so rare that any Bush official speaks honestly, when they finally do we all jump up and down and say "see, see, even So-And-So says it". And then the right-wing bash machine has to kick into overdrive to show what a hate-filled freak Mr. So-And-So is. Thus, discouraging any of the others from talking. Paul O'Neill was bashed pretty hard. Joe Wilson is probably not on the inauguration invite list this year. Richard Clarke was scorned for a weird family life which they never really elaborated on. Maybe the attacks would have happened anyway, or maybe it's because we started attacking Bush so savagely with their words and Bush had no other recourse than to attack the messenger.

Even worse is when an active Bush official (or Bush himself) says something honest. Every little slip-up of honesty is hoisted into the air like it's our enemies severed head. We all demand honesty from the Bush Admin, but every tiny peep of it is used against them. Why in the hell should they be honest when it just hurts them every time? One of the Bush Admin's biggest political blunders was ever admitting that those "16 words" shouldn't have been in the SOTU speech. They really let the genie out of the bottle on that one. I wouldn't doubt if they regret doing that more than they regret the whole Iraq thing.

And I don't know what the answer is. It's their own doing by making honesty so rare. But it seems a touch hypocritical when we attack Bush for not admitting to mistakes...and then attack him in the rare times when he admits to even the most minor of mistakes. And the right is guilty of the same thing, lest we forget the Clinton presidency. I should add that it's the media that is a big cause of this. We talk about Bush's blunders and dishonesty all the time; it's fun and lets off steam. But the only chance that journalists get to do that is when they can quote a Bush official saying it. So when they finally get the juicy quote, they run with it as hard as they can. It must be frustrating to be strait-jacketed by such inane, self-imposed rules.

Moral: People need to realize that the reason we demand honesty from our political opponents is simply so we can attack them with it. Not that we shouldn't still demand honesty. We just shouldn't be so High & Mighty about it when we attack our enemies for not giving us the weapons we need to beat them. We're all monkeys. Damn dirty monkeys.

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