Monday, October 30, 2006

Lie, Damn Lies, and Presidential Press Secretaries

I would hate to be Press Secretary for President Bush. The gyrations these guys have to go through to avoid stating the obvious is amazing. I think maybe Scott McClellan had a great approach – that of a fencepost being asked to extract a cube root of a integer. He didn’t even acknowledge that he looked like a complete idiot. However, he was effective in his job. It has been reported that Bush once congratulated him after a press conference for not saying anything. I am paraphrasing here, but that is essentially what he said.

However, Tony Snow is something else entirely. He’s obviously a bright guy. However, when you have an obviously bright guy trying to defend something that cannot be defended or try to avoid answering a question by linguistic tricks, he cannot come off as anything but a smarmy hack that will say anything. Watching him last week trying to explain Bush’s “We’ve never been stay the course” bit has now been followed by his “tortured” explanation of Cheney’s assertion that it is a “no-brainer” to “dunk someone” if it could save American lives. Was he referring to waterboarding? After WWII, the U.S. prosecuted people who used this technique as war criminals. Oh, no, declares Snow. Cheney would never talk about specific techniques when questioning suspects. And beside, everyone knows that the U.S. does not torture. O.K., so if he wasn’t talking about waterboarding, what was he talking about? Several people have commented in the last few days that anything involving water and interrogating terrorists suspects has to induce some sort of fear into the detainee. So, it is isn’t waterboarding and the threat of imminent drowning, what are we talking about here? There just isn’t anything else that fits. Yet, Tony Snow pretends that he doesn’t know what the press is so upset about and why they won’t accept his non-answers as answers.

I don’t understand how these people can really live with themselves. O.K., if you really believe in what you are doing, if you would stand before God and be judged on your actions, then why not tell the American people the truth? The obvious answer is that they know they can’t do that. If they were to tell the American people what is really up with torture, or illegal wiretapping of phone conversations, or any one of about one hundred other nasty little secrets that the Bush administration doesn’t want anyone to know, they know that most of the true Americans would howl in protest. They absolutely know they are in the wrong and cannot defend their answers. Therefore, all we get is this little tapdance between the press and Bush or his mouthpiece where they try to trip each other and score cheap points as if someone is keeping a running tally. We hardly ever get the truth. And when we do happen to get a truthfully nugget now and then, it is almost always by accident.

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