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April 17, 2008  |  On prevarication  |  5051 hit(s)

The political season is, if nothing else, a rich source for the honing of one's cynicism about the integrity of politicians. And I don't just mean those who are clearly the dregs of humanity, the spawn of the devil, and who are determined to lead the country straight into disaster -- ie, the Other Guys, haha, whatever your political leanings happen to be. There are those who believe, of course, that Our Guy is upstanding and honest, and who is selflessly sacrificing himself in the cesspool of politics to Lead America to a Bright Future.

Uh-huh. Those guys don't get elected. I doubt they exist.

Anyway, last night's Democratic debate, Now Featuring Questions From Our Audience, provided an amusingly educational moment in the notoriously slippery language of politics. As many know, Hillary Clinton has been chastised for exaggerating the drama, let's call it, associated with her world travels, including especially the now-famous trip to Bosnia. A question posed to her via video asked about this. Her response found both of us chortling with amusement. Here's a transcrpition I made, leaving out the boring parts:
You're right. On a couple of occasions in the last weeks I just said some things that weren't in keeping with what I knew to be the case and that I'd written about in my book, and, you know, I'm embarrassed by it, I've apologized for it, I've said it's a mistake, and it is, I hope, something that you can look over[1].

[...]

I know that it is something that some people have said "Wait a minute, what happened here?" But I have talked about this, written about it, and then, unfortunately, on a few occasions I was not as accurate as I have been in the past.

[...]

I will either try to get more sleep, Tom, or, you know, have somebody who is there as a reminder to me. You can go back to the past 15 months ... We have both said things that have turned out not to be accurate. You know, that happens when you're talking as much as we have talked. But, you know, I'm very sorry that I said it and, you know, and I have said that it just didn't jibe with what I'd written about and knew to be the truth.
The particular phrase that we kept repeating arond here was "I just said some things that weren't in keeping with what I knew to be the case."

For the record, I have nothing against Clinton (or not much, I guess), and I don't mean to suggest that she's any less credible than anyone else in this race. But I couldn't resist this gem of a moment in which a politician tries so very hard to come clean, but somehow just can't quite spit it out.

On the plus side, at least in this exchange, Clinton did not roll out that favorite of politicians everywhere, the "clarification," which of course is political talk for "oops."

And I will note that as I was transcribing this, I marveled that Clinton could, even while on the spot, speak in complete and coherent sentences.


[1] An interesting error, this, to confuse look over with overlook. I have no doubt that Clinton knows the difference here, especially considering that these eseentially mean the opposite. Seems to me I've read about this recently.