US Politics

The Definition of “is”.

Oh, the Summer of 1998. One of the best times of my life. One of the worst times in the life of Bill Clinton… having to figure out in front of the entire world that truth depends to an enormous amount on “what the definition of “is” is. Ah, the beauty of a public epistemological argument.

I bet that William Jefferson really thought about starting an online diary when the Bush administration started having a more immediate credibility problem than he ever had. I’m sure he was in stitches, should he have seen this excerpt (.wmv video link via Joi Ito) of Donald Rumsfeld being grilled about the definitoin of “immediate threat”.

But then again, I would like to remind you, my gentle readers of a simple political truth, which I expanded on here: Lying about sex, and lying about war is, evidently, not the same.

Let’s be fair: Lying is one of the few uncontested core skills in politics. Since politics is a game for people who have a thing for figuring out what life would be like in a largely institution-void Hobbesian state of nature – homo hominis lupus. And lying about either sex or war is only politically relevant when being caught doing so does indeed cause a loss of one of the wolve’s power, electoral or other.

Now given the current American electoral landscape, in which roughly one half of country is unfortunately culturally pre-modern while the other half is already post-modern, it becomes evident that being caught lying about either of the subjects will go down far less well with those who would not vote for the respective liar anyway.

Read my story about “Sex, Lies, and Dossiers” and in particular the Texan student, Amber’s, reaction to Clinton’s and Bush’s lying. As long as there are sufficient people who believe that lying about war can be necessary to protect the nation’s interests (even from it’s own sovereign) Bush and his crew do have a shot in the next election. After all, again, lying about sex can never be justified with public interest arguments.

But anyway, I think the video is fun. And I hope you do, too.