tbh or tbd?

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Tara Golshan, "Republicans are following the same strategy on taxes that doomed Obamacare repeal", Vox 11/1/2017:

"I think it would be intellectually dishonest to suggest that if we had had a bunch of wins on a whole bunch of items at this point, we perhaps would have been a little bit more deliberate in our negotiations," Meadows, who chairs the Freedom Caucus, said.

Presumably Rep. Meadows meant to say something like "To be honest, if we'd had a bunch of wins on a bunch of items, we would have been a bit more deliberate in our negotiations". Or maybe something like "It would be dishonest to deny that …"

And maybe he actually did say something coherent like that — I haven't been able to find a recording (or even another report) of his remarks, and we've learned over the years that journalistic quotations are rarely an accurate account of what a source actually said:

"What did Rasheed say?", 6/23/2005
"Ipsissima vox Rasheedi", 6/24/2005
"Ritual questions, ritual answers", 6/25/2005
"Down with journalists!", 6/27/2005
"Bringing journalism into the 21st century", 6/30/2005
"More comments on quotes", 7/1/2005
"Ethnograpy, journalism and interview rituals", 7/2/2005
"Quotes from journalistic sources: Unsafe at any speed", 7/9/2005
"Linguists beware", 7/9/2007
"'Quotations' with a word error rate of 40-60% and more", 7/30/2005
"This time it matters", 8/13/2005
"News and entertainment", 9/11/2006
"Journalists' quotations: Unsafe in any mood", 5/24/2007
"Audio photoshopping at NPR", 5/31/2007
"Standardizing non-standard language vs. careless misquotation", 8/12/2007
"In president, out president, fake president", 12/5/2008
"Filled pauses and faked audio", 12/28/2008
"Egregious fabrication of quotes at the Sunday Times", 1/29/2010
"Jonah Lehrer, Bob Dylan, and journalistic unquotations", 8/3/2012
"More unquotations from the New Yorker", 8/4/2012
"Approximate quotations", 8/11/2012
"Quote approval and accurate quotation", 9/18/2012
"Journalistic quotation accuracy", 8/21/2013

So maybe the reporter got a quote wrong, or maybe the head of the Freedom Caucus said something that doesn't make sense. Or maybe I'm just not seeing the point? We report, you decide.

[h/t Dmitry Ostrovsky]

 



5 Comments

  1. charles antaki said,

    November 1, 2017 @ 5:34 pm

    Presumably Rep. Meadows meant to say something like "To be honest, if we'd had a bunch of wins on a bunch of items, we would have been a bit more deliberate in our negotiations". Or maybe something like "It would be dishonest to deny that …"

    Puzzling over it, it sounds to me like your reading would make sense if the speaker had indeed said "it would be intellectually dishonest to deny [X]" but he's reported as saying "it would be intellectually dishonest to suggest [X]".

    So that sounds like he's wanting say that it's not true that his side would have been more deliberate had they had some earlier successes. (Which , without context, sounds obscure, but maybe plausible on a theory that early success makes you more aggressive).

  2. Jerry Friedman said,

    November 2, 2017 @ 11:59 am

    charles antaki: I think the idea is that Rep. Meadows's side would have been more delicate if they'd had earlier successes because they wouldn't be so desperate for a success now.

    The rhetoric of the sentence, with "perhaps", does make me think Rep. Meadows meant something like "deny" instead of "suggest". But that reading runs into the problem that he'd be saying the Republicans' desperation for a success led them to try the very method that has failed repeatedly for them this year.

    On the other hand, assuming he meant what he said leads to a reading like "Some people might say we're being unsubtle because of our earlier failures, but no, we have other reasons, which are so obvious that anyone saying it's because of our earlier failures must be dishonest." Those reasons aren't obvious to me, but then I don't follow this stuff very closely.

    By the way, I've never understood why people say "intellectual honesty" and "intellectual dishonesty". If they just means "(dis)honesty in an intellectual discussion", I'd think the type of discussion would be obvious in context. Here, for instance, I don't know how to understand the sentence any differently than if Meadows had said "…it would be dishonest to suggest…"

  3. Don Sample said,

    November 2, 2017 @ 12:04 pm

    Given the way this congress has been operating lately, what he's quoted as saying makes perfect sense to me. Suggesting that they'd change the way they've been doing things if what they've been doing was working, seems dishonest to me.

  4. Jerry Friedman said,

    November 2, 2017 @ 1:31 pm

    It would probably help if we knew what Meadows was responding to. It might even reduce the vagueness about agency—would it be dishonest for him to make the suggestion, or for anyone, or for particular people who have made the suggestion, possibly even the reporter?

  5. Gregory Kusnick said,

    November 3, 2017 @ 2:06 am

    Jerry: To me, intellectual dishonesty implies not so much garden-variety mendacity as willful lack of rigor, cutting the flaws in your own argument some slack that you wouldn't allow your opponent.

    I grant that that definition doesn't shed much light on why Meadows said it here, unless (as you imply) he's just trying to sound hifalutin.

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