Friday, June 01, 2012

'I' likes Ike: More pronoun fables

OK, who out there had "Krauthammer" and "June 1" in the great Post/Ike/Obama pronoun pool?

That ad also highlighted the many self-references Obama made in announcing the bin Laden raid: “I can report . . . I directed . . . I met repeatedly . . . I determined . . . at my direction . . . I, as commander in chief,” etc. ad nauseam.* (Eisenhower’s announcement of the D-Day invasion made not a single mention of his role, whereas the alternate statement he’d prepared had the landing been repulsed was entirely about it being his failure.)

By now, this has the makings of a drinking game: Columnist makes specious psychological inference based on direct misreading of the data introduced to support the claim, and the last one to find a direct refutation of the claim has to buy a round. I'll just assume that if you're a regular visitor, you know how easy it is to document Ike's pronoun use and how completely the fables about Obama's "spectacularly promiscuous" and "incontinent" use of the first-person singular have been debunked. The question, given this wealth of data, is why no one from the world of punditry seems interested in calling bullshit on such a spectacularly promiscuous lie.

That's really up to the Washington Post, whose ombudsman has come out foursquare in favor of a world in which columnists don't make things up -- to the point where he publicly dressed down a humor columnist who booted an ill-sourced fact claim about Rush Limbaugh. Perhaps the Post owes its audience -- and not coincidentally, the newspapers that pay to run Krauthammer, George Will and the like -- a more thorough explanation of its standards here. Is it OK to lie about presidential candidates, but not about popular propagandists? Is it OK for political opinion leaders to lie, but not humor writers? Or has Walter Lippmann been right all along?

If I lie in a lawsuit involving the fate of my neighbor's cow, I can go to jail. But if I lie to a million readers in a matter involving war and peace, I can lie my head off, and, if I choose the right series of lies, be entirely irresponsible.**

* It's a free country, and Dr. Krauthammer has a First Amendment right to be disgusted by anything he wants to. Given, again, that the evidence runs contrary to his argument, he risks creating a public perception that "ad nauseam" is Latin for "uppity."

** "Liberty and the news," 1929

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Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

For what it's worth (sadly, probably very little) I have both commented and written to the Post.

5:56 PM, June 01, 2012  

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