Monday, June 26, 2006

Sound Bite Politics

This is an old quote -- and an old issue, really, from 2002. But reference to this was posted in one of the forums I frequent, and I found the resolution of the issue to be funny, in a sad, twisted sort of way. Is lying the only thing that this administration can do? And how many people never thought to question Bush's statements?

Back in 2002, Bush made the infamous "trifecta" joke (war, recession, national emergency); it was tasteless at the very least, but he trotted it out so many times, as if this was somehow funny:
And we've got a job to do at home, as well. You know, I was campaigning in Chicago and somebody asked me, is there ever any time where the budget might have to go into deficit? I said only if we were at war or had a national emergency or were in recession. (Laughter.) Little did I realize we'd get the trifecta. (Laughter.) [remarks at a GOP luncheon, from]
Over and over in speeches, he has said that he promised during his campaign, that he'd only have deficits during time of war, etc. and that all of the current issues make it OK, even good that there is a huge deficit and that he, certainly, isn't to blame. Hey! It's funny, right?
I remind -- I want to remind you what I told the American people, that if I'm the President -- when I was campaigning, if I were to become the President, we would have deficits only in the case of war, a recession or a national emergency. In this case, we got all three. And, therefore, we're recovering from all three
Bush has said at least seven times that he made this statement in Chicago during his campaign. (October 3, March 27, March 28, April 30, May 14, May 20 and June 14). He didn't. I'm sure he wanted it to be true, but -- no.

The truth is simply too good:
By Dana Milbank, Washington Post, July 2, 2002; Page A13
The mystery of the missing trifecta has been solved. Sort of.

In this space last week, it was noted that President Bush often tells audiences that he promised during the 2000 presidential campaign that he would allow the federal budget to go into deficit in times of war, recession or national emergency, but he never imagined he would "have a trifecta." Nobody inside or outside the White House, however, had been able to produce evidence that Bush actually said this during the campaign.

Now comes information that the three caveats were uttered before the 2000 campaign -- by Bush's Democratic opponent, Vice President Al Gore. The Post's Glenn Kessler found in the archives this promise from Gore: "Barring an economic reversal, a national emergency, or a foreign crisis, we should balance the budget this year, next year, and every year." Gore said that to the Economic Club of Detroit in May 1998, then repeated it at least twice more, in speeches in June and November of that year.

There is still no trace of Bush making such a caveat; in fact, shortly after taking office, he declared that "we can proceed with tax relief without fear of budget deficits, even if the economy softens." On the other hand, Bush can fairly argue that his top economic adviser, Lawrence B. Lindsey, endorsed the caveats during the campaign. When Kessler asked back then about Gore's three exceptions, Lindsey said the same caveats would apply for Bush.
Amusing, at least to me. Sometimes it's hard not to bash the chimp just a little.

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