Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Mea Culpa

My thanks to Timothy Sandefur, who just emailed me a link to this post by Stuart Buck about Cheney’s statement that if Kerry is elected there will be another terrorist attack. I hammered Cheney pretty hard over that, not because of the statement itself, which is fair comment (obviously both sides want to make the argument that the other side’s policies will leave us less safe), but because he backpeddled and claimed that he was just saying that if Kerry was in office, he wouldn’t respond as well as Bush. But as it turns out, the quote from Cheney that was widely reported was taken out of context, as Buck points out. Here is the quote that I saw over and over again from Cheney:

It’s absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on November 2nd, we make the right choice. Because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we’ll get hit again.

But here is the larger context of the quote:

It’s absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on November 2nd, we make the right choice. Because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we’ll get hit again, that we’ll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States, and that we’ll fall back into the pre-9/11 mind set if you will, that in fact these terrorist attacks are just criminal acts, and that we’re not really at war.

In context, Cheney’s statement is much more in line with his spokesperson’s explanation that he was in fact saying that if we got hit again, Kerry’s response to it would not be as good as Bush’s response to it. Again, that’s a fair comment in a campaign. I don’t quite understand why his spokesperson didn’t just point to the next sentence or two to show that this was the case at the time, but that’s not terribly relevant. And the irony is that, had I just checked up on the story on one of my favorite websites, Spinsanity (a site that I often encourage other people to visit to check up on such stories), I would have known this before now and could have avoided making a false accusation against the Vice President.

At any rate, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maximus culpa, Mr. Cheney. You weren’t lying after all and what you said, in context, is a much more reasonable statement than was reported in every account I read of it.

Comments

  1. #1 Grammar Geek
    October 7, 2004

    mea MAXIMA culpa – Maxima, like mea, is modifying culpa & should therefor be in the feminine form

  2. #2 Ed Brayton
    October 7, 2004

    mea MAXIMA culpa – Maxima, like mea, is modifying culpa & should therefor be in the feminine form

    I don’t speak Latin myself, but the day after I wrote that, it suddenly occured to me that it was maxima culpa, not maximus culpa, but I didn’t bother to go back and check it. Thanks for the correction.