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Oh, Gimme a &$#@! Break

July 15th, 2003 · 1 Comment

Y’know, I don’t actually think this whole row over Nigerian uranium is such a big deal, unless it was a deliberate lie. And I’m entirely willing to believe that it wasn’t—that it was an honest goof, or even that there’s some further evidence we haven’t seen that still supports the contention. Fine, whatever. I didn’t think there was much of a case for war if it was true, even less if it was false.

But please, fer chrissakes, spare me this Clintonian “it depends what the definition of ‘learned’ is” bullshit about how Bush had his toes crossed and called the British-intelligence-technically-it’s-true exemption. This is a seriously low-fi maneuver. I remember taking a philosophy of language class back in the day where we covered something called “conversational implicature.” The idea is that there are a set of background rules we use to make communication intelligible. So if I say my car’s almost out of gas, you don’t reply that there’s a gas station around the corner if you know full well that it’s closed. And if you’re the President of the United States making the case for sending the nation to war, you don’t cite intelligence you haven’t vetted, that you’re not willing to stand behind. If it was a mistake, fine. That’s how intelligence is sometimes. But let’s not sink to the technically-I-didn’t-inhale level, huh?

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