Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I Didn't Mean What You Just Heard Me Say

First there was Jon Kyl's attempt back in early April:
On the Senate floor yesterday, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), eager to prove that the budget debate wasn't just about Planned Parenthood, spent some time on the Senate floor going after Planned Parenthood.

"Everybody goes to clinics, to doctors, to hospitals, so on," Kyl said. "Some people go to Planned Parenthood. But you don't have to go to Planned Parenthood to get your cholesterol or your blood pressure checked. If you want an abortion, you go to Planned Parenthood, and that's well over 90% of what Planned Parenthood does."

That's not even close to being accurate. Just 3% of the organization's work is related to terminating pregnancies, while "well over 90% of Planned Parenthood does" relates to preventative health care services.

Yesterday, CNN, to its credit, sought an explanation from the senator about the glaring error. CNN anchor TJ Holmes told viewers:

"We did call [Kyl's] office trying to ask what he was talking about there. And I just want to give it you verbatim here. It says, 'his remark was not intended to be a factual statement, but rather to illustrate that Planned Parenthood, a organization that receives millions of dollars in taxpayer funding, does subsidize abortions.'" [emphasis mine]

This Orwellianism led to a blistering Twitter attack, led by Steven Colbert, under the # NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement (which continues to haunt the Arizona pol to this day). Some of my favorite Colbert "Non-Facts" about Kyl:
  • Jon Kyl assassinated Archduke Ferdinand. #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement
  • Jon Kyl's knees bend both ways. He's part racehorse. #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement
  • Jon Kyl once ate a badger he hit with his car. #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement
  • Jon Kyl calls the underside of his Senate seat: "The Booger Graveyard." #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement
One would think that such a public bruising would encourage politicians to be a little more careful in attempting to reframe their unfortunate statements, but one would be wrong.

Enter newly announced GOP presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich.

Talking Points Memo:
In a bold laying down of the gauntlet tonight on Fox News, Newt Gingrich banned Democrats from attempting to retrieve his Meet the Press quotes from the memory hole he's spent the day consigning them to. And he formally decreed that "any ad which quotes what I said on Sunday is a falsehood."
Josh Marshall, usually a very nice guy by Washington standards, went for the jugular:
Examining the Gingrich wreckage this evening, I'm starting to wonder if we might simply be in the filming stage of Gingrich's own version of "I'm Still Here", the in-character 'mockumentary' Joaquin Pheonix and Casey Affleck made about Pheonix's phony descent into personal and professional self-immolation.

Who'll give me 3 to 1 that Gingrich shows up in Cannes next year clean-shaven and lucid recounting how he had everyone going?
While it is encouraging (and, I'll admit it, fun) to see politician's lame attempts to simply erase their clear statements then served back to them so quickly as piping-hot plates of "Crow a-la-ridicule" you do have to wonder about the obvious contempt they must have for America's intelligence to think for even a moment they'd get away with it.

More than that, eventually what must occur to a population repeatedly being told "I didn't mean what you just heard me say" is that perhaps you don't mean what you're saying now either. In other words, perhaps nothing you say is worth listening to at all.

Labels: politics


Anonymous Brian said...

The sad coda to this sentiment is that even if a politician were to say nothing at all coherent and even if, on that basis, the population were to give up entirely on caring what they say at all, they would still have about a 50% chance of winning their election.

5/18/2011 09:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Mery Lynn said...

Are politicians capable of causal thinking? It's not just words, but their seeming inability to keep their pants zipped. Maybe it's just the older ones who don't understand the impact of the internet. No comment ever goes away. No secret love child can be hidden forever. The reality of secrecy has changed.

5/18/2011 09:43:00 AM  

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