Palin: Not A Liar, A Bullshitter

A reader writes:

About Sarah Palin, you've written that "All we know for sure is that whatever she says isn't true. It never is."

I'd argue that what she says has no relation whatsoever to the truth - you can't count on it to be false anymore than you can count on it to be true. What you can generally count on is that it will be hastily conceived and self serving. I know you've invested a great deal of time proving her to be a liar, but to my mind Palin's a bullshitter, as defined by Harry G. Frankfurt in his book, On Bullshit.

According to Frankfurt, a bullshitter is the greater enemy of truth than a liar. The liar, by acting in opposition to truth, at least has some sense of what it is. The bullshitter, on the other hand, says only what he or she thinks will serve their immediate agenda and therefore pays little attention to what actually "is." Over time their ability to recognize truth becomes attenuated.

Sound like anyone you've seen in shorts on the cover of Newsweek lately?

I always found the term "liar" a little crude or insufficient for her, hence the use of the term "odd lies" to characterize a very particular form of delusional thinking. Having now read the book, I have to say I feel, yes, sadness. The same sadness I felt in a huge wave at the beginning of September 2008. For the innocent people dragged into this whole farce. And the damage yet to come.