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Thursday, March 25, 2004

Nothing to see here. Move along.

I've been preoccupied wrapping up the magazine — finished today — and so have depended on others to keep up on the Congressional terrorism hearings and the explosive criticism of the Bush administration from Richard Clarke. If you're looking for resources, Amy Sullivan suggests six — including a brilliant bit of satiric commentary by Jon Stewart [RealVideo] — and Josh Marshall fills in all the details.

But after you've watched Jon Stewart's Comedy Central video, consider Jonathan Chait's observations about White House press secretary Scott McClellan's inability to lie with a straight face:

[W]hen forced onto difficult terrain, he is the picture of discomfort. He averts his eyes from his questioners, often appearing to recite from prepared talking points on the podium. He shifts his weight from foot to foot, the frequency of these shifts depending upon his level of anxiety. (At the highest level, his rocking grows so violent that he steadies himself by gripping the podium with both hands, as if to keep from toppling over.) Like a bad card player, he overcompensates for his uncertainty with emphatic gestures — folding his lower lip, furrowing his brow. Indeed, McClellan is a near-perfect embodiment of the physical manifestations of dishonesty listed by high-profile jury screener Jo-Ellan Dimitrius in her book Reading People. The list begins:

Shifty or wandering eyes
Any type of fidgeting
Rapid speech
Change in voice
Shifting back and forth in one's feet or in a chair
Any signs of nervousness
An exaggerated version of the "sincere, furrowed-brow look"

("Honest mistake: Scott McClellan, bad liar," Jonathan Chait, New Republic 3.29.04)

Copyright © 2004 by Philocrites | Posted 25 March 2004 at 10:47 PM

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