Wednesday, May 28, 2003

A farewell to yarns

Helen Thomas -- In the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq, Fleischer, obviously under orders, kept changing the reasons for going to war. One day it was "regime change." The next day it was to eliminate Hussein's "weapons of mass destruction," which he insisted were a "direct and imminent threat" to the United States. And then there was the feeble effort to connect Hussein with al-Qaida.

Well, U.S. inspectors still haven't found any of those weapons. When I once asked Fleischer if oil could possibly play a role in our desire to take on Hussein, he gave me a horrified look for even asking such a question.

I've always admired Fleischer's self-discipline. He delivered the message of the day and focused on the administration line, no matter what the question.

Cragg Hines - Giving spin a bad name

In war and peace, Fleischer over 27 months has not let facts get in the way of what he was determined to say.

In the days after the shuttle Columbia disaster, Fleischer couldn't even get straight whether Bush had ever made an official visit to Johnson Space Center. After Fleischer floundered for a day or so, including the un-Bushian declaration at one point that the issue was "somewhat murky," Fleischer finally had to admit what NASA had been saying all along: Bush had not visited the space center as governor of Texas or as president until he arrived for the Columbia memorial service.

William Saletan on the Slate Web site in early 2002 parceled Fleischer's obfuscation into some telling categories, including, "question the question" and "moralize your stonewalling." Two other Saletan entries were "defer to process," in which "the Justice Department is investigating," was, to Fleischer's mind, a totally dispositive answer, and "offer candor, nor truth."

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