Keynes and Bush

by Henry Farrell on February 24, 2004

Keynes famously “quipped”: “When the facts change, I change my mind – what do you do, sir?” G.W. Bush’s riposte – Why sir, I “change the facts”:



GMT 02.24.04 at 8:12 pm

W.’s comments on Saddam and the weapon inspectors was a Through the Looking Glass moment, indeed. The next day an adm. official and a retired officer parroted the same line in front of an apparently clueless reporter, I believe on CNN.

Then I remembered W.’s claim that he saw footage of the first plane hitting its tower on 9/11, before he entered the classroom where, in fact, he was told of the attack some time later. That footage, furthermore, wasn’t available until late on 9/12, since the guy carrying the camcorder was too busy running for his life the previous day.
Now he claims to have volunteered for duty in ‘Nam.


Sigivald 02.24.04 at 9:05 pm

So, when plans for Iraqi elections change as the situation on the ground changes, this is Bush “changing the facts” rather than his mind? (Nevermind that Bush presumably isn’t the one making primary decisions about that, sine he’s known to be a master delegator, and, well, every President only has so much time and competence.)

I’d expect better from Marshall, but I’ve read him for too long. (I’d also like to see those claims about “weekly” changes for all of those get some specific backing, and note that anything anyone in the administration says is attributed to “Bush”, but Kerry, in contrast, only has his own direct words used against him. Evidently we’re to understand that Presidents (or at least Presidents with an (R) after their names) control all projections and statements by the entire administration and are personally at fault for either waffling or “ignoring the facts” when such change.

And, uh, don’t job projection numbers normally change every few weeks? The economy is dynamic, Josh. Bush is damned if “he” doesn’t update numbers (because they’ll be wrong!) and damned if “he” does (because then he’s waffling, or “ignoring the facts”!). It appears that only perfect foreknowledge can suffice to stifle this criticism.

Perhaps the medicare point is valid (though to imagine that Marshall seriously “blames” Bush for spending too much on senior benifits does not pass the giggle test); and not knowing what remarks the poster refers to exactly, I can’t say for sure about the WMD or Inspectors issues, but the jobs and Iraqi government examples are simply… partisan sniping. Exactly what I’ve come to expect from TPM, sadly.

Come now, CT. Can’t your staff of resident geniuses manage better than recycling Josh Marshall?


William 02.24.04 at 9:07 pm

From The Washington Post:

Fog of War

“He volunteered to go to Vietnam.”

Bush campaign chairman Marc Racicot, yesterday, on National Public Radio

“No, I didn’t.”

President Bush, Feb. 8, responding to a question on NBC’s “Meet the Press” about whether he volunteered to go to Vietnam


GMT 02.24.04 at 10:51 pm

Um, sigivald? This is what Marshall wrote:
But I’m not sure these are waffles exactly. They seem more like examples that, for this administration, all facts are fungible or perhaps infinitely malleable.


Matt Brubeck 02.25.04 at 4:40 am

sigivald (“don’t job projection numbers normally change every few weeks?”):

Yes, but in this case the administration made a ridiculously optimistic forecast, then denied that they had ever made that forecast (saying that it had actually been a “goal”, not a prediction), then denied their own denial (saying that it was not in fact a “goal”).


Jeremy Osner 02.25.04 at 1:36 pm

Presidents with an ® after their names

Which is to say, trademarked Presidents…

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