Ari Fleischer lies again.

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
March 24 2004 5:59 PM

Ari Fleischer Rides Again

The exuberant liar pays a visit to the New York Times letters column.

(Continued from Page 1)

Now comes Fleischer telling New York Times readers he's being quoted out of context. The audacity of this claim commands respect, given the irrefutable sequence of question and answer.

Fleischer says his watch-what-you-say comment was directed not at Maher, but rather at "a Republican congressman from Louisiana who said that if he saw a Sikh-American with a towel wrapped around his head, he would tell the Sikh to get out of his state." This unnamed blowhard is Rep. John Cooksey, who retired from the House in 2002. Fleischer can't even be trusted to get Cooksey's bigoted comment right. Cooksey referred to turbans as diapers, not towels, and he said that Sikhs should be interrogated at random, not ejected from his state.

Now, it's true Fleischer had earlier been asked about Cooksey's outburst. He'd answered that President Bush "was very disturbed by those remarks." And as you can see, Fleischer did group Maher's comment with Cooksey's ("there was an earlier question about has the President said anything to people in his own party") when he warned ominously that people "need to watch what they say." But Fleischer's argument to Times readers isn't that he paired criticism of Maher's swipe at Bush with criticism of Cooksey's bigotry. Rather, his argument is that he was responding only to Cooksey's bigotry."My remarks urged tolerance and openness and were addressed to those who made statements and threatened actions against Muslims or Sikhs in America," he concludes. Although he acknowledges there was a question about Maher, he won't acknowledge that his answer had anything to do with Maher.

Advertisement

Fleischer's haughty command that people should "watch what they say" isn't even an especially good response to Rep. Cooksey's bigotry. In fact, democracy works better when politicians don't disguise their true nature. Cooksey's example is a case in point. He gave up his House seat to challenge Sen. Mary Landrieu. He lost, partly, Chatterbox assumes, because voters had learned from his diaper crack that he was stupid and mean. Cooksey is now reportedly considering a run for his old seat, and if he does his opponents will make sure to remind voters about his post-9/11 outburst. If Cooksey had watched what he said, he'd enjoy greater but undeserved political stature today. Aren't you glad he didn't?

Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His  book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.

TODAY IN SLATE

Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race

How Facebook’s New Feature Could Come in Handy During a Disaster

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

View From Chicago

You Should Be Able to Sell Your Kidney

Or at least trade it for something.

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Terrorism, Immigration, and Ebola Are Combining Into a Supercluster of Anxiety

The Legal Loophole That Allows Microsoft to Seize Assets and Shut Down Companies

  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Oct. 19 2014 1:05 PM Dawn Patrol Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s critically important 5 a.m. wake-up call on voting rights.
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 19 2014 11:40 AM Pot-Infused Halloween Candy Is a Worry in Colorado
  Life
Outward
Oct. 17 2014 5:26 PM Judge Begrudgingly Strikes Down Wyoming’s Gay Marriage Ban
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 17 2014 4:23 PM A Former FBI Agent On Why It’s So Hard to Prosecute Gamergate Trolls
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Oct. 17 2014 1:33 PM What Happened at Slate This Week?  Senior editor David Haglund shares what intrigued him at the magazine. 
  Arts
Behold
Oct. 19 2014 4:33 PM Building Family Relationships in and out of Juvenile Detention Centers
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 17 2014 6:05 PM There Is No Better Use For Drones Than Star Wars Reenactments
  Health & Science
Space: The Next Generation
Oct. 19 2014 11:45 PM An All-Female Mission to Mars As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 16 2014 2:03 PM Oh What a Relief It Is How the rise of the bullpen has changed baseball.