Monday, August 10, 2009


I've used the term "truth creep" before, as a way of describing one of the favorite tactics of right-wingers: subjecting a fact to a distortion so seemingly slight that it almost doesn't seem like a distortion at all, yet so significant that it creates a thoroughly dishonest picture of what's really going on. It almost always works, because the distorted version seems so close to the truth that even the most skeptical observers often don't realize they're being spun.

What happened is that Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer published an op-ed in this morning's USA Today entitled "'Un-American' Attacks Can't Derail Health Care Debate." Now, pay attention, plerase. They're not saying it's un-American to criticize the Democrats' health care proposals -- they're saying it's un-American to suppress debate. Got it? Here's what they say:

However, it is now evident that an ugly campaign is underway not merely to misrepresent the health insurance reform legislation, but to disrupt public meetings and prevent members of Congress and constituents from conducting a civil dialogue. These tactics have included hanging in effigy one Democratic member of Congress in Maryland and protesters holding a sign displaying a tombstone with the name of another congressman in Texas, where protesters also shouted "Just say no!" drowning out those who wanted to hold a substantive discussion.

These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views — but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American.

Let me run that last sentence by you again: Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American. Got it? What's un-American is intimidation and bullying, not disagreement with the majority party.

But here's the right willfully misinterpreting this:

* Pelosi, Hoyer Decry First Amendment as "Un-American"...
* It's Un-Patriotic To Question "The One"
* Dissent no longer patriotic
* Pelosi finds dissent un-American… now

That's truth creep. And that's now going to be the conventional (mis)interpretation of what the two Democrats wrote.

Truthfully, Pelosi and Hoyer walked right into this. They should have been able to intuit precisely how their use of "un-American" would be distorted.

They've been around the block many times, but they still don't seem to have the slightest grasp of the right's fighting style. They still never see the low blows coming.

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