Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Maybe it all depends on what the definitions of "no" and "leaving" and "resignation" are

I devoted much of my thoughts yesterday to the topic of deceit. Let's continue in that vein for just awhile longer.

Some years ago, an editor at another newspaper called me and asked whether I had any interest in their latest job opening: White House correspondent. I replied that, aside from the fact that the job title would surely impress my mother, I nevertheless couldn't imagine a worse fate -- being penned up all day, and fed a steady diet of semi-truths, creative wordplay, outright evasions, and bald-faced whoppers. (As I recall, Bill Clinton was still president.)

The Bush administration's track record certainly confirms all this. And now we have yet another example, in the wake of the news that Hank Paulson has replaced John Snow as the Treasury secretary.

Last Thursday, May 25, a member of the press corps asked the President, "Has Treasury Secretary Snow given you any indication that he intends to leave his job any time soon?"

Addressing the reporter as "Stretch" (his Bush-designated nickname), the President replied: "No, he has not talked to me about resignation. I think he's doing a fine job."

Compare that remark with what the White House press secretary said yesterday. When asked to provide a timeline for Paulson, he replied this way: "The tick tock is that the two of them (Paulson and Bush) met on the 20th of May, and there was a conversation. And Hank Paulson accepted the job a day later."

OK, I'm consulting my reality-based calendar...let's see...yes, just as I thought: May 20 and May 21 come before May 25.
Now I'm looking at my reality-based dictionary...yes, the word resignation is defined as leaving a job.

The new press secretary, Tony Snow (no relation to John), was asked yesterday why Bush couldn't truthfully answer a straightforward question. He said that Bush's "carefully worded" response was necessary in order to prevent "chaos in the markets." (Nice try. After the Paulson announcement was made yesterday, the markets went down. Apparently the Treasury shuffle didn't matter one way or the other. Wall Street experts said that the drop was due to concerns about inflation and lagging consumer confidence.)

Maybe this should be the next question for Tony Snow: Are you having fun yet?