Jacob Weisberg’s “Bushism of the Day” feature on Slate is a nasty little bit of ideological gamesmanship, but it’s also often quite entertaining. Today, he got one wrong. James Taranto, of the Wall Street Journal, called him on the error. Here’s the official transcript of the President’s remarks.
Taranto’s assessment is the correct one: “This [feature] is a cheap gimmick; few people speak in polished sentences and paragraphs, and you could make almost anyone look dumb by employing the Weisberg method.”
We certainly should admire eloquence in public officials. But we are not ancient Greeks for whom eloquence was proof of superior statesmanship. We may certainly decry Bush’s policies, but let’s not chastise him for something which most of us are guilty of much of the time.
There is no link to today’s feature on Slate’s opening page as of 1:20 p.m. CST. No word yet on a correction.
UPDATE: (1:50 p.m.): Slate has published a correction. AP mis-reported the Bush quote. Why did this mistake happen? It seems certain that the reporter mis-read the transcript. We may certainly question how this mis-reading occurred. As for Weisberg, if you’re going to write such a feature about the President you should be 100 percent certain about the veracity of the quotes before you print them.