Monday, June 30, 2003

WORTHY OF DERRIDA. It is refreshing to see conservatives standing up and saying, now hold on, there may be more to this than meets the eye -- let us eschew the "gotcha" politics of easy sound-bytes, and try to divine what this misunderstood fellow meant.

After all, they have in the past been quick to willfully misunderstand their enemies, and to run with the results -- as with their deliberate and shameful garbling of Paul Begala's "Red State - Blue State" comments, which remain a Republican bloody shirt to this day.

So today it was sweet to see Eugene Volokh and Andrew Sullivan attempting to explain Dick Cheney in context. When Cheney asserted that Iraq had nuclear weapons, he "misspoke," Volokh surmises. (The linguistic outrage "misspoke" is attributed to former Nixon press secretary Ron Ziegler, and its usage here may indicate that Volokh is showing off for the cognoscenti in the audience.) To prove this, he contextualizes Cheney's nuclear weapons statement with a bunch of Cheney statements that were almost about nuclear weapons -- "pursuit of nuclear weapons," "until he acquires nuclear weapons," etc. "He must have made a slip of the sort that people often make when they're in an extemporaneous conversation," concludes Volokh.

It does not occur to Volokh -- at least not on the page -- that there are many more uncharitable explanations for not keeping one's story straight. But who are we to split hairs? Leave it to bludgeon-brained Sullivan to forthRightly explain the import of Volokh's linguistic forensics: "The far Left, still desperate to undermine this administration and retroactively discredit the war of Iraqi liberation, is merely digging a bigger and bigger hole for itself."

Orwell was an amateur.

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