August 3, 2008

Does it scan?

With the rash of old-geezer stories accompanying the McCain campaign, I've been seeing frequent references to the first President Bush's notorious encounter with a supermarket scanner. Here's today's Times: "Mr. McCain’s sense of wonder evoked the episode in the early 1990s when George H. W. Bush became overly impressed upon seeing a price scanner at a supermarket check-out counter."

Snopes flatly declares the Bush story false, and quick Googling finds that most other media outlets at the time agreed: Bush was being shown a new type of scanner, they said, and he was "curious and polite" rather than amazed. The Times "re-reported" the story and stood by it. There's now a truncated, silent video clip of the incident on YouTube, but it's inconclusive at best.

Barring further developments, I'd say this is an appropriate anecdote to use when discussing voter perception of whether a candidate is out of touch, as long as it's properly qualified to note that it's bullshit heavily disputed. It should not be used when discussing whether candidates actually are out of touch.

Posted by Daniel Radosh


It's true that Snopes "flatly declares the Bush story false," but read through the contemperaneous stories even on their own page and it's a lot less of a slam-dunk. Ever since Snopes was caught lying / scrubbing their own pages about Michael Moore I've been unable to see the site as a completely objective arbiter of truth, and the way this page is written, including dipping into first person, suggests an eagerness to give Bush the benefit of the doubt in the face of specific details - from credible witnesses in papers of record - that are not specifically refuted (and the video certainly provides no such refutation).

In my opinion a better example for your purposes is "Al Gore said he invented the Internet" - which, true, is more focused on "Al Gore is a pompous ass," but does also play into the out-of-touch image.

Hence "heavily disputed" rather than "bullshit."

Post a comment

Powered by
Movable Type 3.2