Thursday, May 04, 2006


Froomkin writes:

The way I see it, the Washington press corps is still appropriately embarrassed that they screwed up in the run-up to war. Now, as Bush's approval ratings fester, they are getting bolder in challenging the official White House line on any number of issues. They're justifiably proud of a handful of great investigative pieces.

But they still haven't addressed the central issue Colbert was raising: Bush's credibility. As it happens, the public is way ahead of them on this one: For more than a year, the polls have consistently been showing that a majority of Americans don't find Bush honest and trustworthy.

And yet, as I've chronicled time and again in this column, (see, for instance, my Feb. 3 column, It's the Credibility, Stupid ) the mainstream press -- the very folks in that ballroom on Saturday night, the ones who actually have access to the president and his aides -- have allowed that fundamental issue to go unexplored.

What Colbert was saying about the guy sitting a few feet away from him -- and I think this is what made so many people in that room uncomfortable -- was: Don't believe a word he says.

It took a long time - until Katrina - for the press to really catch up to the idea that maybe, just maybe, these guys are completely incompetent. In a rare moment in 2004 Jonathan Alter said on the Franken show:

The level of incompetence here is so staggering here, and yet there's this gap between how astonishingly incompetent...and we can go over particulars in the last year if you want to... how astonishingly incompetent they've been and the perception is still of them as solid citizens...


"The only way you can sort of start to let the public know is to say no. They don't know what they're doing. They're clowns.

But that was an isolated sentiment, and not one which was really repeated until Katrina hit. Since then we've gotten a bit more on the incompetence thing. Still, as Froomkin notes, they really haven't gotten hip to the fact that they're total liars about everything despite all the evidence to the contrary. It took Ray McGovern to point out the obvious today to Rumsfeld. Of course, any sentient human being knew that Rumsfeld was lying the instant these words popped out of his mouth:

We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.

We didn't need to fail to find WMDs to know that was a lie. It wasn't just a lie, it was as bad lie. A pathetic lie. A transparently obivously lie. Only drooling morons could imagine that the phrase "in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat" could be anything other than a lie even before we knew that no such weapons existed.

Forget national security and WMDs, which are oddly taboo subjects for serious scrutiny. Just look at Medicare D, Social Security, Katrina, etc... etc... They. Lie. About. Everything. Not spin, not hyperbole, not exaggeration, which are all things which I think have some appropriate place in political discourse, but lies. Awful, dangerous, deadly lies.

In his book, Spikey Mikey Isikoff wrote about Clinton:

I was now convinced Clinton was far more psychologically disturbed than the public ever imagined.

Whatever the merits of that statement it's time to acknowledge that Bush and his administration are far more incompetent, dishonest, and dangerously radical than the press is willing to imagine.