With the announcement of Press Secretary Ari Fleischer's resignation, everyone on the Left side of the blogosphere has been composing lists of his most egregious spinjobs, mischaracterizations, and outright lies. The notable exception, from what I've seen, is the one that most likely lost him his job (what, you thought perhaps he had simply up and decided he no longer wanted to be Press Secretary?): the assertion that President Bush had flown out to the USS Lincoln on a jet because the aircraft carrier was too far out to sea for Marine One to reach it.
As such things go, and especially in the context of this administration, it was really a rather minor lie, almost a fib. The remarkable thing about it, though, and the reason why it most likely cost Ari his job, is that it was so amazingly blatant.
Granted, Mr. Fleischer has told more than a few blatant lies in the past. The difference, in this case, is that it was so easy to discredit. No amount of spin or partisan rhetoric can alter the basic math of it:
Marine One has a range of x miles.
The Lincoln was y miles out from the coast.
y is much less than x.
Even the dullest can grasp this, and in so doing recognize Ari's claim as a lie. Not a mix up. Not a misstatement. A lie. The fact that the lie was exposed within a day or so only made it worse; had it taken a month or so for reporters to prove that it was a lie, the impact would have been negligible.
Perhaps Ari simply got cocky; after smacking the White House press corps around for so long, maybe he just figured that he could push anything on them without worry.
Whatever the reason, that lie was the proverbial straw on the camel's back. After three years, the distrust that the press corps has accumulated for Fleischer has reached toxic levels. Even with the understanding that a Press Secretary's job is to bend the truth to make the President look good, there is only so much that even the lapdogs in the White House press room can take.
But more importantly, it is bad policy indeed to go into an election year with a Press Secretary that even an idiot can recognize is a bald-faced liar. When one considers the fact that the safest bet in Washington is that the GOP apparatus will be doing its damnedest next year to paint the Democratic nominee as a liar (the feared "Gore-ing"), it is easy to see that Ari has become a liability.
And so Uncle Karl pulled the eject lever, and WHOOSH! goes Ari, quickly becoming an insignificant speck in the distance to whom no one will pay any attention as he floats to earth on whatever private sector parachute has been arranged for him.
How do I feel about the whole situation?
Frankly, I'm pissed off.
While his departure means that Bush is losing Satan's gift to flackdom, given the fact that no one believes a word that comes out of Fleischer's mouth anymore, it is a net gain for the administration. After using Ari to throw so much garbage into the political atmosphere, the White House will receive a get-out-of-jail-free card- a brand new Press Secretary able to lie his ass off without the accumulated baggage of his predecessor.
And, as should be obvious to anyone reading more than two posts here at VeryVeryHappy, I view a net gain for George Bush as a net loss for the country.
So, good riddance Ari. You were and are a liar, and as such you deserve the scorn of good people everywhere. Because your filthy reputation will no longer tar the people who so gleefully employed your talents, you have lost your one redeeming quality. You will rightfully be remembered as a man who excelled at a job that, now more than ever, requires one to lie to one's fellow citizens with a straight face.
Good people will not think of Fleischer very often, but when they do, it will be with disgust, and of everything that has resulted from his time as a public figure, that is the one thing that brings me a small measure of satisfaction.