Bush White House Tries to Redefine "Truthful"

This post, written by Steve Benen, originally appeared on The Carpetbagger Report

The problem with Bush's fairly transparent lies about the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran isn't just that they're obvious; it's that they're clumsy.

Asked when he learned about Iran's halted nuclear-weapons program, the president said it was "last week." White House officials then conceded it was actually in August.

Asked about the August briefing, the president said the Director of National Intelligence told him there was "new information," but "didn't tell" him what it was. White House officials then conceded Bush was told that the August briefing included a discussion about Iran possibly having suspended its nuclear program four years ago.

Asked about any warnings he may have received in August about toning down his rhetoric on Iran, the president said, "[N]obody ever told me that." White House officials then conceded Bush was told to "stand down" when it came to Iran, advice the president chose to ignore.

This isn't complicated. When Bush says one thing, and then White House officials tell us that reality is something different, then necessarily what the president told us wasn't true. Now, this could qualify as a lie (if he knew the truth at the time), or it could qualify as incompetence (if he just doesn't know what he's talking about), but it really has to be one or the other.

Unless, of course, you're the White House press secretary.
"OK, look. I can see where you could see that the president could have been more precise in that language. But the president was being truthful."
I can enjoy rhetorical parsing as much as the next guy, but in no way is it possible to characterize obviously-false remarks as "truthful," unless the Dana Perino changed the meaning of the word when no one was looking.

It's gracious of Perino to concede that Bush could have been "more precise," but precision isn't really the problem here. When "last week" is "last August," Bush is being more than just imprecise. When not being aware of new information becomes being aware of new information, those are opposites, not shades or degrees.

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