Friday, March 21, 2008

Of gaffes and "wha'?"

If, as Michael Kinsley has said, a gaffe is when a politician accidentally tells the truth, what are we to call a lie about a lie about an accidentally-told falsehood?

The Maverick Makes It Up

This week during a trip to the Middle East, McCain severely undermined his frequent claims to be "the one best to address a national security crisis" by repeatedly stating that Iran was supporting al Qaeda in Iraq. McCain claimed that Iranian operatives were "taking al-Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back." He insisted that it was "common knowledge...that al-Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and coming back into Iraq from Iran." McCain's confusion over Iran and al Qaeda puts him in lockstep with the rest of the Bush administration. As the Washington Post notes, "The last five years have produced ample evidence that American leaders were woefully ill-informed about the country they came to rescue." ... At first, the McCain campaign claimed the senator simply "misspoke." Now the campaign is embracing the remarks, leaving voters all the more unsure about McCain's understanding of foreign policy. ...

WHERE'S THE STRAIGHT TALK?: After press coverage of McCain's gaffe, his campaign issued a statement claiming the senator "misspoke and immediately corrected himself." In an interview, McCain himself insisted that he "corrected it immediately," and that he "just simply misspoke." However, as video proves, it was not until Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) whispered a correction in his ear that McCain corrected his mistake. Moreover, McCain conflated Iran and al Qaeda at least three times, not including another time last month -- hardly a case of "misspeaking." By Thursday the McCain campaign had reversed course, insisting McCain did not misspeak at all. McCain advisor Max Boot asked Thursday, "[W]hat gaffe?" and insisted, "There is copious evidence of Iran supplying and otherwise assisting Al Qaeda in Iraq and other Sunni terrorist groups (including Al Qaeda central)."

From "The Progress Report" of the Center for American Progress

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