Thursday, September 16, 2004

George Neumayr has an excellent column looking at the new standard of having a "core truth" that obviates the necessity of having facts to back up what you assert.
On The O'Reilly Factor not so long ago, Dan Rather spoke in defense of public figures who make stuff up. He called Bill Clinton an "honest man" even as he acknowledged Clinton's whoppers. "Who among us have not lied about somebody?" asked Rather. "I think at the core he's an honest person…I think you can be an honest person and lie about any number of things."

You can be an honest person and lie about any number of things. This elastic philosophy of honesty must account for Rather's view of himself as a witness to "core truth" while peddling a forgery against the President. Rather sees a "core truth" wrapped in a forgery inside his CBS reporting, and he is outraged that his critics won't admit it. He is in effect saying: Didn't this forgery at least place me in the vicinity of truth? He lashes out at "people who for their own partisan, political agendas can't deny the core truth of this story…and want to change the subject and make the story about me rather than have the story be about the unanswered questions about President Bush's military service."

The audacity here is surreal, though typical of the post-1960s ends-justify-the-means moral arrogance Rather imbibed as a Watergate reporter. Presidents can't lie to journalists, according to this ethos, but journalists can lie to presidents, and even demand that presidents answer for the journalist's lies. Perhaps only Dan Rather could get caught out in a forgery and proceed to demand that President Bush answer the questions the forgery raises. According to Rather's moral calculus, forged documents shed light not on his lack of credibility but on the credibility of the president they slander.

In an interview with the New York Observer, Rather also uses the phrase "fundamental truth." This is 1960s babble that amounts to saying: I, as a liberal, can tell lies for the greater good; my surface dishonesty conveys a deeper truth. Rather is falling back on the Noble Lie -- the idea that the enlightened are entitled to heap fables upon the hoi polloi for the sake of preserving proper order.

The transcendent truth that mitigates Rather's faked-up memos is apparently that Bush missed a physical examination over three decades ago -- not exactly the justification for the Noble Lie Plato envisioned in The Republic. Why allegations about a missed physical and truncated National Guard service trouble Rather so deeply when Bill Clinton's draft-dodging did not is another question Rather isn't likely to answer.
Read the rest. It seems that this is the new approach to everything the liberals believe. I see a grand unity here. Kitty Kelley's gossip is fine because it's a core truth. Wishful thinking that the UN and France might support a Kerry-led action into Iraq, despite all evidence to the contrary, is fine because it says something about a core truth about how we might wish to conduct foreign affairs. Post-modern literary criticism far removed from anything the author may have intended is fine because it expresses a core truth about what the reader feels about the book. Demagogic deceptions about outsourcing or Social Security are fine, because the core truth is that liberals care more about the unemployed and elderly. Lies about Christmas in Cambodia are fine because there is a core truth about intervention in Nicaragua that Kerry wanted to make.

We're in the postmodernist world now and truth is really just an elastic concept. Woe is us, if this is true. And, hey, it doesn't matter if it isn't, because it's my core truth.