THE POWER OF WORD CHOICE
by Virginia Postrel • Jul 21, 2004 at 12:12 am
The original A.P. report said, "Berger and Breuer [his lawyer] said Monday night that Berger knowingly removed the handwritten notes by placing them in his jacket and pants and that he also inadvertently took copies of actual classified documents in a leather portfolio." Reading with Occam's Razor in mind, I decided that probably meant his pants and jacket pockets, which makes the act no less illegal but a lot less weird and suspicious--an example of absent-mindedness or poor judgment, not Fawn Hall-style sneakiness.
Sure enough, the NYT report contains this sentence: "Mr. Berger also put in his jacket and pants pockets handwritten notes that he had made during his review of the documents, Mr. Breuer said."
I'm an odd defender of Berger, who used to make me wince at his incompetence when he was national security adviser. He's a good argument against the return of the not-very-deep Democratic foreign policy team--but not because of purloined notes. Partisans (and reporters) make fools of themselves, and their causes, when they turn this sort of story into a Very Big Deal. Argue the issues, folks.
In related news, Lileks writes about how the evolving precision of the Berger story made his column writing hell. See, he's not just a blogger--he has editors!
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