Michelle Goldberg Gets It, Ctd

Althouse responds to my take on her bloggingheads with Michelle Goldberg:

I know Sullivan wants me to check out his list of "lies." I picked one to check out, that she said the only flag in her office was the Israeli flag. As Sullivan himself notes, she must have meant to say the only foreign flag, since she did also have an Alaskan and an American flag in her office. That's the sort of sloppy speaking that one would correct easily if it were pointed out at the time. Of course, I also have the state flag and the American flag. I mean, it would be pretty ridiculous for a state governor to only have a foreign flag! There isn't even a motivation to lie.

That there's no motivation here doesn't mean it's an "odd lie" which is Sullivan's term. It means it's not a lie at all.

What's odd is his definition of a lie. If I said I was just wearing jeans to a party, you wouldn't have exposed me as a liar if I turned up wearing a shirt and shoes as well. In fact, you'd sound like a dork or, with good enough delivery, a comedian if you said, "You liar. You said you were just wearing jeans!" Calling something like this a lie marks you as someone who's centered not on finding out what is true, but on destroying someone.

Althouse picks an odd lie that is motivated by a desire to please a political constituency as well as say something with utter indifference to reality. It is indeed one of the milder ones, as I noted myself. It's an exaggeration that is literally untrue but not at the level of delusion of the rest. It is not what Althouse wants to say: a prediction of future events that doesn't work out that way. It is a statement of current reality that is untrue. But keep going, Ann. Debunk them all. With facts, not spin.

And, of course, Althouse is right that any single one of these "odd lies" could be explained by the usual human fallibility. We all make minor things up from time to time, white lies, on the spur of the moment. But all of them? Empirically disproven by the public record? In a relatively short career? It's the pattern here that I'm establishing. And the pattern is emphatically not one of mere bad memory or spin. It is one of clinical delusion.

It is my contention that all is not right here. In fact, something is very seriously wrong. This is not about destroying anyone. It is about saving a system that perpetrated an error as huge as this one. And we cannot save this system until we fully understand the depth of the scandal in front of us: that this clinically delusional person had a good chance of having her finger on the nuclear button. And still does if she is not fully vetted and understood. I intend to keep doing that until the whole truth is in front of us.

If you don't want to pursue that truth wherever it takes us, read someone else.