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July 15, 2003

It was only 16 words!

Daniel Radosh

It was only 16 words! What's the big deal? Kinsley brilliantly eviscerates the White House's defense in the case of the bogus nuke evidence. Key excerpts:

The Bushies say: 1) It wasn't really a lie; 2) someone else told the lie; and 3) the lie doesn't matter.

1) Bush didn't say it was true, you see—he just said the Brits said it. This is a contemptible argument in any event. But to descend to the administration's level of nitpickery, the argument simply doesn't work. Bush didn't say that the Brits "said" this Africa business—he said they "learned" it. The difference between "said" and "learned" is that "learned" clearly means there is some pre-existing basis for believing whatever it is, apart from the fact that someone said it.

2) If the president—especially this president—can disown anything he says that he didn't actually find out or think up and write down all by himself, he is more or less beyond criticism. Which seems to be the idea here.

3) Logically, of course, this argument will work for any single thread of the pro-war argument. Perhaps the president will tell us which particular points among those he and his administration have made are the ones we are supposed to take seriously. Or how many gimmes he feels entitled to take in the course of this game. Is it a matter of word count? When he hits 100 words, say, are we entitled to assume that he cares whether the words are true?

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