Rice: Tim, this is not a matter of preference; this is a matter of principle. It has long been a legal and constitutional principle that assistants to the president, the presidential staff, do not testify before legislative bodies. But this is not a matter of preference …
And on she went, and the interpreters supplied the obvious interpretation, which was that the administration was stonewalling. And when Rice finally did testify under oath, what did we hear? Meaningless generalities, right on script.
If the media get whipped up when politicians make slips of the tongue, lining up to play the interpretation game, it's like co-dependents handing a corkscrew to an alcoholic: a form of complicity. Bush and Rice assure us that we're winning the war as the body count mounts, the administration vastly expands presidential power and executive secrecy, and the press keeps busy parsing sentences and monitoring slips, including jumping all over Bush for stumbling on the dumb press conference question about his "biggest mistake" since 9/11. As if there were one mistake that could be singled out?
But we want to know the inner man—you know, who George Bush really is. Except that it's not the slips and errors that reveal the truth about this man, Condi's Stepford-wife act, or this political moment: That's a game. Everything to know is right there on the surface.
TODAY IN SLATE
The Irritating Confidante
John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.
My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s
Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band
Can it be again?
The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee
Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?
Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?
Driving in Circles
The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.