When lying is about war, truth obsolete, says Mary
Dressed for the lake and on my way, I stopped at the grocery store Friday afternoon, and the parking lot was busy. I spotted a space near the edge of the lot and pulled into it before noticing Mary Contrary on the boulevard holding a sign. It rea...
Dressed for the lake and on my way, I stopped at the grocery store Friday afternoon, and the parking lot was busy. I spotted a space near the edge of the lot and pulled into it before noticing Mary Contrary on the boulevard holding a sign. It read, "Truth is Obsolete: Honk if You Agree."
She saw me immediately. "Hey, Sunshine, beep your horn for my Truth Poll."
"Your 'Truth Poll?'"
"What are you, my echo?" Mary Contrary sighed. "I'm testing the idea that truth doesn't matter anymore."
"That's a cynical notion."
"Cynical, shminical - we're talking reality here, Sunshine." Her eyes narrowed. "Are you following the flap over Karl Rove, W's right-hand man, and his lies about leaking the name of the CIA agent?"
"Not all that much. Although, as I understand it, Rove didn't exactly say the agent's name; he only identified her by her husband's name - Joe Wilson - and her employment with the CIA." When Mary gave me a disbelieving look, I hurried on, "Now that's pretty strong identification, to be sure - I mean, it wouldn't take a reporter five minutes to get her name. But evidently, there's a legal difference."
"Oh, Sunshine, parse, parse, parse. Makes a person long for the day when White House parsing was all about sex - you, know, I-did-not-have-sex-with-that-woman. Now the president's top guy gets caught outing a spy and the spiel is, I-did-not-leak-her-name. Good grief, the White House didn't like Wilson contradicting their saga about uranium from Niger and Saddam's WMDs, so Rove tried to make him look like a has-been on a junket, so pathetic only his wife could get him a job - anything to keep Americans from thinking we could have avoided war in Iraq." Mary waved at a driver who honked.
"I don't know, Mary. The president insisted from the beginning that he wouldn't put up with somebody in his administration leaking the name of a CIA agent.
"Grow up, Sunshine. You think President Bush-all but joined at the hip to Karl Rove - couldn't have asked Rove what he said and what reporter he said it to? In fact, why didn't he ask and then stand up like a man and say, 'This is what I asked Karl Rove and this is what he told me,' and clear the whole thing up? Why doesn't he do it now?"
"The issue's politically sensitive, Mary. Karl Rove probably was leaking the spy story as one of those dirty tricks things that have helped President Bush get ahead."
Mary's face got red. "I know you're a little slow on the uptake, Sunshine. So let me spell it out. There's a difference between smearing a political opponent like John McCain in a primary and flat out lying to make a case for going to war. The South Carolina primary was nasty stuff, but it didn't result in sending Americans to die for their country." She shrugged. "When Rove smeared Wilson, he knew the uranium/Saddam/WMD story was pure fiction, just like the Saddam/ 9-11 connection."
"You're saying, when people's lives were in the balance, Rove was playing politics."
"The guy was fast and loose with the truth, as if going to war was just another political game. Now, over 1,750 American soldiers have died and over 13,000 have been wounded - lots of amputations and life-changing stuff. And there was a report out this week that 800 Iraqis died every month this last year." Mary paused. "Not to mention the old taxpayer is ponying up hundreds of billions with no end in sight. The kicker is that we aren't in Iraq because it was a threat; we're there because we weren't told the truth."
"That doesn't mean truth is obsolete, Mary."
"Well, if leaders don't tell the truth when they're taking us to war, truth isn't getting much respect."
Mary looked at me. "Speaking of respect, do you think you ought to out in public dressed like that?"
"It's hot, Mary. I'm headed to the lake."
"Don't you think that outfit will offend the fish?"
Ahlin teaches English as an adjunct faculty member at Minnesota State University Moorhead and is a regular contributor to The Forum's commentary pages. E-mail email@example.com