Back during a September GOP debate, Wolf Blitzer asked Ron Paul if “society should just let” people without insurance die. A handful of people in the crowd cheered. When Paul explained why that’s not his position, the overwhelming majority of the crowd applauded enthusiastically.
I was irritated, then, when various commentators mentioned the reaction of the few but not of the large majority. A Talking Points Memo video in particular went out of its way to misrepresent by omission the crowd’s reaction.
In explaining this lack of context, I wrote, “If ‘half the truth is a great lie,’ then Talking Points Memo, [Curtis] Hubbard, and [Mike] Littwin are great liars.” In a column, Littwin mentioned the reaction of the few in the crowd (which he characterized as a Tea Party crowd) but not of the many. However, as any decent writer takes seriously his responsibility to report the truth, I ought not have brought out the “l” word with respect to Hubbard or Littwin, and I apologize for doing so. Even though I used the term in a very delimited context (regarding “half the truth”), it’s just not the sort of word that one should swing around lightly. I should have reviewed the same factual material without making my criticisms so personal.
Littwin assures me that he was trying to establish that the crowd was spirited in order to set up his discussion about Rick Perry, not otherwise characterize the crowd or the Tea Party as a whole. Especially given that I’m asking for more charitable interpretations of the motives of Tea Partiers, I too should be more charitable in interpreting the motives of others. Even when they irritate me.