Tuesday, December 09, 2003

George Ochenski, over at the Missoula Independent, says that "George W. Bush broke new low ground for a president of the United States by intentionally lying to the national press about spending Thanksgiving at his Texas ranch." Pare away Ochenski's corrosive rhetoric and there's still a good question left: Does the president have a right to lie? We all sort of take it for granted that presidents do lie -- my favorite may have been the senior Bush's assertion that his nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court had nothing to do with race. It was an almost obligatory lie, and we all understood that he was lying, and no particular repercussions followed. Bush the Younger's Thanksgiving lie would seem to be even more defensible since it was for security rather than political reasons.

But can a good Christian lie with honor even under these circumstances? I doubt it. It's a bit like cursing: Sean Hannity took John Kerry to task yesterday for saying "fucked" in Rolling Stone, but Hannity was merely amused when Bush called a New York Times reporter an "asshole" back during the campaign. In my realm of Christian orthodoxy, the words carry roughly the same weight, and the onus on Bush to be behave would appear to be greater because he is so public a believer.

By the way (for Ed's benefit, all use of BTW has been suspended) Kerry was featured on "Unfinished Symphony," a superb documentary about Vietnam Veterans Against the War that aired on one of the independent film channels last night. Too bad that younger Kerry isn't running for president: He was eloquent, thoughtful, sincere. The compromises of political life must have worn him down, just as they wear down the president.

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