A few days ago, I posted this article about President Bush's words and real world events concerning the War on Terror, drawing parrells between the Bush Administration and Orwell's 1984.
I recieved a critiquing quote--something I enjoy as I like being challenged--and thought since I haven't written a post in the past few days, I'd write a response.
I agrued that the President lied about four issues--the safety of the average American, his sudden downplaying of Osama bin Laden, the strength of the intelligence and his inability to capture bin Laden. My reader correctly pointed out that these were not technically lies. The first is debatable, the second was an action, the third was a normal mistake and the fourth was understandable because it was about the future. Technically, he's right.
And if we lived in a world that was run by a giant computer, I wouldn't have written the article in the first place. But the fact of the matter is, in the real world, we have something what I call the "Oh Come On Rule."
For example, intelligence reports are wrong, a lot. That's true. It's a fickle thing and what was once true a week ago is rarely true now. Accurate information is the best weapon in any war, but it's always been the hardest to get. So when the President says that he's certain that the intelligence is accurate and he completely backs it, its reasonable to assume that he actually made sure it's accurate. That the facts won't suddenly change, that the information is checked and double checked and triple checked, that the intelligence agents who work for him know what they are doing. Saying its an honest mistake makes me say "Oh come on!" It could be that it was a mere error but its far more likely that the man is either a liar, an idiot or lazy. I thought I'd stick with the least damaging one.
My reader violates the Oh Come On Rule, too, so I'm not surprised that s/he is unaware of it. In my first post, I wrote: "[T]he President acted as if that didn’t matter—that he never cared about bin Laden in the first place—and shifted seamlessly to Iraq" to which my reader replied, "[Y]ou are now describing Bush's actions, but the topic was supposedly how Bush's rhetoric is the opposite of reality." Yes, technically, that's not true and according to the most literal interpretation of my language, you have a point. But again, we live in the real world and in the real world, writers use different words to describe the same action in order to keep their writing interesting. When I say acted, I'm saying that's what Bush said or implied in his speeches. And as long as we are on the subject, there is NO--count them NO--credible evidence that there's a link between bin Laden and Hussien. Osama bin Laden hated (and he still might) Sadam because he saw him as a Western puppet. If you want to tell me that intelligence gathering isn't a perfect science, read the paragraph before this one again.
In my original article I said, "one year Osama bin Laden was the main target and our forces will find him, but then we didn’t." It's true that's about the future and technically he couldn't know that but when you divert resources away from searching for bin Laden and to the War on Iraq--something you have to do if the military is as strained as I'm told--then you loose a lot of crediblity that bin Laden was ever a main concern. Technically we haven't given up but for all wants and purposes, we have. (Though I'll concede we might get lucky.)
The safety of the average American is debatable, I'll admit that. But the President himself told us that he's expecting an attack any day now. I hardly call looming threats, constant terror warnings and the dreaded Patriot Act "safer." Technically my reader is right, but come on... (Though I'll admit that in this case, it's more like "Words speak louder than words.")
There are other things that remind our President of Big Brother: that he has so few press conferences, thus limiting the opportunity to be faced with a hard quesiton; that he insists anyone who attends an open meeting sign an oath of loyalty; that he's proud he doesn't read the paper; that he looks down at having debates; that his administration blacks out scores and scores of lines of declassified texts on the grounds of "national security." There's a pattern here and it's more unAmerican than anything Kerry has even been accused of doing. For anyone that cares about this country, they should be holding out their leg in hope that our President will trip while sprinting down that cold, slippery road.