George W. Bush and Truthslaughter

Just now over at Matt Yglesias’s site, Daryl McCullough said “I agree with Bush defenders that ‘lie’ might be inappropriately harsh. The problem with Bush is not that he lies, but that he has a reckless disregard for the truth.”

Now, that sounds exactly like the legal definition of manslaughter, as opposed to first and second degree murder. “Manslaughter” designates criminal homicide which results from a “reckless disregard for human life”, but which is without intent to kill or premeditation.

So perhaps Bush isn’t a liar after all. Little of what he says is true, but his intellectual recklessness and indifference to fact make one doubt that he is capable of forming the intent to lie. He just doesn’t care — he’s guilty not of lying, but of truthslaughter.

If you think that Bush really is a liar you might object to this. But stop and think — often prosecutors plea-bargain murder charges down to manslaughter just so they can get the conviction. The accusation of lying is a very serious one, and it’s one which is hard to make stick. So let’s just bargain it down a notch.

The way Bush has been going with his weapons of mass distraction and his wacky economic plans, I bet that even a lot of Republicans will agree by now that a lot of it does look quite a bit like truthslaughter.

(Edited to distinguish Jason from Daryl McCullough, who are both great guys, but not identical. Even the Scots suffer from stereotyping in this world of ours — McCullough is a Scottish name, isn’t it…..?)