That Pesky “Context”…
Last week, reflecting on the effusive welcome he received in Germany, Obama said the following to a group of House Democrats:
It has become increasingly clear in my travel, the campaign, that the crowds, the enthusiasm, 200,000 people in Berlin, is not about me at all. It’s about America. I have just become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions… this is the moment, as Nancy [Pelosi] noted, that the world is waiting for.
Dana Milbank then reported that quote in The Washington Post as follows:
[Obama] told the House members, “This is the moment . . . that the world is waiting for,” adding: “I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions.”
The liberal blogosphere was predictably — and justifiably — outraged that Milbank would so blatantly distort the meaning of Obama’s statement, implying that he was “arrogant” or “presumptuous” (the new right-wing meme), instead of self-effacing and humble, concerning his world-wide popularity.
Today Milbank “responded” to his critics. He began with this zinger: “I’ve decided to approach today’s chat as a wine writer would. … Today, I am inaugurating the Whine Enthusiast, in which I will rate your whines.” The real gem came later in the on-line chat, however, when Milbank offered this defense of his butchery of Obama’s quote:
It should be noted, if it hasn’t already, that nobody is questioning the accuracy of the Obama quotes, only the context.
Interesting argument. According to Milbank logic, it is okay to turn “I do not believe that Obama is a radical Muslim sleeper agent” into “Obama is a radical Muslim sleeper agent.” After all, the abridged quote is “accurate,” just lacking “context.” Sure, the “context” directly negates the semantic meaning of the abridged quote. Point that out, though, and you are just “whining”…