Thursday, April 08, 2004

Eugene Volokh does a very good job covering Ted Kennedy's Jane Fondaesque speech and countering the arguments put forth by Kennedy's supporters like Mark Kleiman. I did think that one more point should be added. It may seem completely unrelated, but bear with me.

When, in discussing the evidence that Saddam Hussein was searching for WMD, Bush sourced a particular piece to the British, his critics were outspoken in their belief that this was somehow underhanded. Let's quote Kleiman himself for this argument:

According to the postmodernist ethics now being practiced by the Bush Administration, that addition made the assertion true, even though the underlying statement about uranium purchases was false, because it was in fact the case that British intelligence had prepared an analysis containing the (false) statement about uranium purchases. He never said that the Iraqis tried to buy uranium, he only said that the British had "learned" that the Iraqis tried to buy uranium. No problem.


That quibble may be good enough to avoid a criminal charge ... [b]ut morally it's worthless: anyone hearing that speech was intended to believe that Iraq had tried to buy uranium from Niger, not merely that the Brits had a report that said so.

I have always strongly disagreed with the spin the Democrats and the (overwhelmingly Democratic) media put on that line. They were pitching a load of bullshit, frankly. Kleiman, to his credit - unlike the vast majority of the media then and now - didn't materially change Bush's quote (though he DOES mis-state it one time by talking about a "Niger fairytale").

While I completely disagree with his opinion and conclusion on this particular topic, I DO understand and, in fact agree, with his logic in general (it was his premise that threw him off). If you insert a line in a speech with the SOLE purpose of creating a particular (likely false) impression, then the fact that it could be construed a different way is truly a "morally worthless" defense. Ted Kennedy has proven yet again by his Iraq=Viet Nam speech that he himself continues to be morally worthless.