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An Obfuscatable Moment

5:02 PM, Jul 26, 2009 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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Today, on Fox News Sunday, Juan Williams came up with a fine formulation, in the context of the Henry Louis Gates imbroglio:

"But in this situation, the president spoke without the facts. And so you can't have a teachable moment if it's based on a lie."

Amid all the blather about "teachable moments," I don't recall anyone else making this simple but profound observation: "You can't have a teachable moment if it's based on a lie." Another way of putting it might be to say that it's not a "moment" that's teachable, it's the truth that's teachable.

So a moment in which everyone colludes to obscure the truth (which seems characteristic of most "teachable moments" in contemporary America) is not a moment of teaching; it's a moment of deception, of misdirection, of obfuscation. Call it an obfuscatable moment.