Apparently the Late Show with David Letterman ran a clip of a Bush speech in which a boy of about 14, standing just behind the president, yawns conspicuously several times, scratches himself, checks his watch, and finally falls asleep. It was a comedy bit — a bored 14-year-old is hardly a major political crisis — but CNN picked up the clip, and the White House responded by declaring the clip a fake, claiming it was created by studio editing. Letterman responded by saying that was a lie, that the clip was real and the kid was there. Then the White House admitted that okay, maybe the kid was at the speech, but he was standing somewhere else. Except that wasn’t true either. The kid was really there. The White House felt it was better to lie than to allow the American public to believe that a 14-year-old boy could get sleepy at a Bush campaign rally.
It’s become distressingly obvious that the instinctive White House reaction to any sort of criticism is to go immediately on the attack without bothering to check facks and see if they’re, well, lying. It’s like honesty doesn’t even occur to them. But this, this is just sad.