"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Passion of the Sixteen Words 

As promised, here's the most eagerly awaited post of the year here at PTTN (unless it's the one where I throw up my hands and scream "I quit!") - our annual "Sixteen Words" feature. For those just tuning in, this is where we comb the transcript of the State of the Union address, looking for sixteen words that best capture the spirit of the Fib That Launched a Thousand IED's:
The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

And, because this is an audience participation oriented blog (although the audience actually seems generally hostile to that idea), I invite you all to play along. All you have to do is find passages from the transcript, each sixteen words in length (in a row, although the judges will give due consideration to appropriate use of ellipses), that are clearly dishonest.

Unfortunately, while it may be true that the state of the Union is strong - or resolute, or more gooder, or whatever - the state of the Boy King's truth stretching abilities seems to be deteriorating. By way of comparison, the 2004 speech produced scant quantity but outstanding quality. My favorites remain:
Our closest allies have been unwavering. America's intelligence personnel and diplomats have been skilled and tireless.

Under this reform, senior citizens will be able to keep their Medicare just as it is.

In 2005, the Empty Flight Suit changed strategeries, and went with volume, volume, volume! The wealth of sixteen-word lies spewed last year included such gems as:
My Clear Skies legislation will cut power plant pollution and improve the health of our citizens.

America will stand with the allies of freedom to support democratic movements in the Middle East.

and, most dishonest of all,
I thank the Congress for providing our servicemen and -women with the resources they have needed.

Yeah, that one takes the yellowcake.

This year, however, his heart just wasn't in it. In fact, I could only find two good, solid, sixteen word whoppers:
But those decisions will be made by our military commanders, not by politicians in Washington, D.C. [referring to promised decreases in troop levels in Iraq]

...we have benefited from responsible criticism and counsel offered by members of Congress of both parties.

Of course, this is not to say that the President has given up lying; indeed, both the Washington Post and the AP have printed good fact checking articles that reveal that same old instinct for mendacity. But in the main, these are flabby, undisciplined lies, spread out over several sentences or paragraphs. They lack the pithiness, the immediacy, of a good sixteen-word fib.

The reason for the drought is clear - if you don't say anything, you can't say anything dishonest. As the Rude Pundit notes, the bulk of this speech consisted of
...just boring bullshit, inarguable platitudes, and head-scratchin' conundrums. Seriously, does anyone want to "surrender to evil"? 'Cause Bush sez that's not an option.

But maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm missing some good stuff, and that's where you come in. Read the transcript, look for the lies, and count the words. When you find a winner, put it in the comments. I'm relying on you, and I hope you won't let me down - because, as the Smirker in Chief said himself:
A hopeful society comes to the aid of fellow citizens in times of suffering and emergency.

Say, there's sixteen words right there. Things are looking up already.




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