Wednesday, October 06, 2004

GET THE FACTS FIRST In response to one of Gwen Ifill's questions last night, Dick Cheney alleged he hadn't met John Edwards until they sat down to debate.

Later in the evening, the Kerry folks produced this pic as evidence to the contrary.

ABC news has more.

UPDATE: I don't want to press this point too hard, but the more I think about Cheney's comment, the more revealing it seems.

It's not proof that he's a liar or that he's losing his grasp on reality. But it does suggest that he overestimated his capacity for mental recall last night, and that he can be careless about double-checking his impressions against available evidence.

The decision to state flatly that you've never met someone--and to use this statement as an attack line in the most public of forums--ought to require an awfully high level of confidence in your claim's veracity.

Surely, the Vice President knows this. He was fully aware of the debate's stakes. And watching him make the claim, it seems clear he was utterly and completely convinced of the truth of what he was saying.

But what he said wasn't true.

As John Kerry might say, Cheney was certain but wrong.

Again, the lesson isn't that Cheney is a serial dissembler: I'm sure the Vice President was as surprised to learn he was mistaken as the rest of us were. But the gaffe is another example of Cheney's overconfidence in his own impressions and his less than vigorous pursuit of contrary evidence.

Don't get me wrong: Time and time again, people at the highest levels of this administration have misled the American people. No doubt about it.

But other times--and this seems like one of them--they just haven't done their homework.

UPDATE UPDATE: Dave The Pro over at Daily Kos gets the last word.

CONTRAPOSITIVE is edited by Dan Aibel. Dan's a playwright. He lives in New York City.