Tuesday, July 27, 2004

What Do You Believe?

Matt Drudge provides a transcript of a debate between two people that represent what I don't like about their respective sides: Michael Moore and Bill O'Reilly. I find both of them to be demagogic panderers to their respective bases, but they mostly stick to their topics here.

Seeing as how I dislike both equally, I feel that I could judge the exchanged in a balanced way. If I were the judge of a debate and had this exchange before me, then I would give the victory to O'Reilly. My decision comes from this exchange in which Moore admits to a major logical fallacy:

O: Ok, he says in his [Bob Woodward] book George Tenet looked the president in the eye, like how I am looking you in the eye right now and said “President, weapons of mass destruction are a quote, end quote, “slam dunk” if you’re the president, you ignore all that?

M: Yeah, I would say that the CIA had done a pretty poor job.

O: I agree. The lieutenant was fired.

M: Yeah, but not before they took us to war based on his intelligence. This is a man who ran the CIA, a CIA that was so poorly organized and run that it wouldn’t communicate with the FBI before September 11th and as a result in part we didn’t have a very good intelligence system set up before September 11th

O: Nobody disputes that

M: Ok, so he screws up September 11th. Why would you then listen to him, he says this is a “slam dunk” and your going to go to war.

O: You’ve got MI-6 and Russian intelligence because they’re all saying the same thing that’s why. You’re not going to apologize to Bush, you are going to continue to call him a liar.

M: Oh, he lied to the nation, Bill, I can’t think of a worse thing to do for a president to lie to a country to take them to war, I mean, I don’t know a worse –

O: It wasn’t a lie

M: He did not tell the truth, what do you call that?

O: I call that bad information, acting on bad information – not a lie

Moore, in this exchange, consistently hews to the position that because President Bush told us things that were not true, he therefore lied. However, from dictionary.com we get the following definition of lie:

lie n.
1. A false statement deliberately presented as being true; a falsehood.
2. Something meant to deceive or give a wrong impression.

While the president's statements have been proven incorrect thus far by conditions on the ground, there has been no proof brought forward that he acted with the intent necessary for his statements to be lies. This does not mean that if President Bush stood up and said something to the effect of "the buck stops here", much like UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has, he would not gain a great deal of respect from me. Three reports: the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Lord Butler in the UK, and the 9/11 commission; all say that President Bush and PM Blair were justified in their conclusions as to the presence of WMD in Iraq.

Essentially: the President was right to believe that Iraq had WMD although it thus far appears that the belief was not right.

Link via Andrew Sullivan

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