Monday, April 14, 2008

Mr. and Ms. Spoken

Oops, misspoke.

When the footage surfaced showing that Hillary Clinton, contrary to what she had been claiming in campaign speeches, had not been obliged to duck and run from sniper fire during her visit to Bosnia in 1996 but, rather, had listened smilingly as a little girl recited a poem about peace, the former First Lady, now the junior senator from New York and a candidate for President, explained, “I misspoke.” When the man whom Clinton still hopes to run against in November charged that Iranian agents are “taking Al Qaeda into Iran, training them, and sending them back”—even though Shiite Iran and Sunni Al Qaeda have no use for each other—his campaign had an identical explanation: “John McCain misspoke.”

But, don't blame me.

“Misspeak” is a powerful word, a magical word. It is a word that is apparently thought capable, in its contemporary political usage, of isolating a palpable, possibly toxic untruth, sealing it up in an airtight bag, and disposing of it harmlessly.

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