I’ve been quoted out of context in the past. In general, mainstream media has a real problem taking quotes out of context and using them. This is a tactic currently being employed by both sides of this year’s presidential race as well.
It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of Bush, so I was, of course, amused at the quote from his remarks at the UNITY conference last week. Now, of course, Kerry’s remarks the day before at the same conference are being taken out of context and attacked by The Evil Cyborg, err..Dick Cheney.
Let’s have a look at the two in and out of context:
Here’s Cheney talking about Kerry’s remarks out of context:
Senator Kerry has also said that if he were in charge he would fight a “more sensitive” war on terror. (Laughter.) America has been in too many wars for any of our wishes, but not a one of them was won by being sensitive. President Lincoln and General Grant did not wage sensitive warfare — nor did President Roosevelt, nor Generals Eisenhower and MacArthur. A “sensitive war” will not destroy the evil men who killed 3,000 Americans and who seek the chemical, nuclear and biological weapons to kill hundreds of thousands more. The men who beheaded Daniel Pearl and Paul Johnson will not be impressed by our sensitivity. As our opponents see it, the problem isn’t the thugs and murderers that we face, but our attitude. Well, the American people know better. They know that we are in a fight to preserve our freedom and our way of life, and that we are on the side of rights and justice in this battle. Those who threaten us and kill innocents around the world do not need to be treated more sensitively. They need to be destroyed.
Here’s what Kerry actually said:
I will fight this war on terror with the lessons I learned in war. I defended this country as a young man, and I will defend it as president of the United States.
I believe I can fight a more effective, more thoughtful, more strategic, more proactive, more sensitive war on terror that reaches out to other nations and brings them to our side and lives up to American values in history.
I lay out a strategy to strengthen our military, to build and lead strong alliances and reform our intelligence system. I set out a path to win the peace in Iraq and to get the terrorists, wherever they may be, before they get us.
You don’t really get the same effect from Cheney’s two word quote, do you? Now let’s look at Bush.
Here’s the quote taken out of context. I’ve left in the leadup question so that you can see what he was answering.
MARK TRAHANT, SEATTLE POST INTELLIGENCER: Good morning. My name is Mark Trahant. I’m the editorial page editor of the Seattle Post Intelligencer and a member of the Native American Journalists Association.
Most schoolkids learn about government in the context of city, county, state and federal. And of course, tribal governments are not part of that at all.
Mr. President, you’ve been a governor and a president, so you have a unique experience looking at it from two directions.
What do you think tribal sovereignty means in the 21st century? And how do we resolve conflicts between tribes in the federal and state governments?
BUSH: Tribal sovereignty means that; it’s sovereign. I mean, you’re a — you’ve been given sovereignty, and you’re viewed as a sovereign entity. And therefore, the relationship between the federal government and tribes is one between sovereign entities.
Bush’s first paragraph response sounds even worse on tape because he halts and stumbles through it. If we add his next comment, it doesn’t look nearly as bad, although he still doesn’t really answer Mr. Trahant’s question.
Now, the federal government has got a responsibility on matters like education and security to help, and health care. And it’s a solemn duty. And from this perspective, we must continue to uphold that duty.
I think that one of the most promising areas of all is to help with economic development. And that means helping people understand what it means to start a business. That’s why the Small Business Administration has increased loans. It means, obviously, encouraging capital flows.
But none of that will happen unless the education systems flourish and are strong. And that’s why I told you we’ve spent $1.1 billion in the reconstruction of Native American schools.
Bush completely ignores Trahant’s question after stumbling through his ramble on sovereignty and heads to the comfort of some talking points.
This is the great thing about the Web. You can go read these speeches in their entirety yourself and not have to rely on the spin machines of the two parties and a mass media that reports that spin. I only hope I’m not the only one doing it.
By the way, while reading through the transcripts, let’s nitpick. Bush claims:
You know, when I came into office, we had a problem with our economy; it was in a recession.
Bzzzt. Wrong. Bush took office on January 20th, 2001. By many of the accounts that I can find, the recession began in March of that year and some say (note the Fox News joke) that it wasn’t even really a recession. I’m just pointing out that, through no fault or merit of his own, the economy was, in fact, not in a recession when Bush entered office. And if he’s trying to take credit for pulling us out of a recession that may or may not have existed at all and setting us on the road to more prosperous times, he’s not going to like today’s stock market news.
EDIT: Jon Stewart pointed out on the Daily Show tonight that Cheney might want to take a particular paragraph of Bush’s own speech at the UNITY conference out of context.
Now, in terms of the balance between running down intelligence and bringing people to justice obviously is — we need to be very sensitive on that.
Hmmm…well, I’m sure you’ll read the rest of his speech so that you won’t jump to conclusions.