Thursday, August 30, 2012

Oops, My Bad.

I had written,
At least according to prevaricator extraordinaire, as quoted by Charles Pierce, Marc Thiessen, who offers a "He was lying to get elected, so that's okay" defense of Paul Ryan:...
And now I learn that Mark Thiessen is gloating that I attributed words to him that were in fact authored by Alexandra Petri. My explanation, not defense, is that I was taking a "Charles Pierce reads Mark Thiessen so I don't have to" approach to the quotation. The problem was not that Pierce was inaccurate, such that it is not fair to rely upon the accuracy of his quotations. It's that I misinterpreted him and, had I simply clicked through, I would have avoided the error.
However, we do have the Beltway press's sudden spasm of actual honesty to thank for the most singularly stupid piece of writing The Washington Post it likely ever will publish, even if it renews Marc Thiessen's contract for the next 20 years.
Just because someone tells you different facts than you remember from when you were there watching the event happen doesn't mean that he is lying. It may just mean that he is trying to be elected to something. Besides, there is literal truth and story truth and narrative truth and speech truth, and, of the four, literal truth most seldom gets invited to parties. Conversation as we know it would end. Politics consists of assembling a convincing story about events out of the facts at your disposal and seeing how many people prefer your story to your opponent's. We all start with the same fabric of fact, but a lot of art goes into the draping. There are lies, damned lies, statistics and Things Your Opponent Did to Grandma.
A quick note to Marc Thiessen: Comments are open here. You can go to any post I have ever made, add your own thoughts, insult me, challenge my ideas, push me, pull my hair, poke me in the eye - go for it. I even allow anonymous comments, so you don't have to attach your name. It will take less time to post a comment than to post to twitter. If you post drivel I'll call you out, just as I have done in the past with some of your opinion pieces, but if I make a mistake I want to know, I want to take ownership, and I want to correct it. (Should I joke here about how such an approach to mistakes is probably alien to your experience in Washington?)

I am flattered that your reputation management brings you by my blog, but I can't make corrections or offer apologies if you sneak off to gloat over my mistake in a twitter feed I don't follow. (I don't follow any twitter feeds, in case it matters.) We all make mistakes at times, some of us like to take responsibility and correct them.

Your gloating serves to reinforce my impression of your character which, as you know from the other posts I've made about you that you have chosen not to tweet about, is not very high to begin with. That's reflected in the fact that somebody's parody seemed consistent with the type of thing you write in earnest - I've not made that mistake with any of your peers.

Help me out here by doing something that surprises me and says, "You've underestimated this guy."

1 comment:

  1. Am I understanding this? You made a mistake of attribution, Thiessen found it but, rather than saying, "Hey, dude, I didn't say that," he tweeted a snarky comment that he wouldn't have expected you to notice? Is he still in middle school?

    I agree that if he picked up on your mistake in one post, he's picked up on your spot on criticisms in all of the others. What does Thiessen's conduct say to me? He's a small man who holds grudges.


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