Kevin apprised you of this controversy late last week, so here's the Cliffs Notes version: Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote a syndicated piece on Friday, in which he recapitulated an anecdote about President Obama returning a bust of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The sculpture had been lent to President Bush in 2001, who placed it prominently in the Oval Office. Obama sent it back to the Brits in 2009, despite an offer to extend the loan. This caused a bit of a diplomatic stir. Following the publication of Krauthammer's commentary, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer authored an irate "fact check" blog post on the White House website, claiming that the column was "patently false," based on "rumor," "ridiculous," and "100 percent false." He asserted that the bust remains in the White House to this day, citing photo evidence from 2010 to back the claim. Guess who turned out to be 100 percent wrong? From Dr. K's delicious follow-up column today:
Within hours, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer had created something of a bonfire. Citing my statement, he posted a furious blog on the White House Web site, saying, “normally, we wouldn’t address a rumor that’s so patently false, but just this morning the Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer repeated this ridiculous claim in his column . . . This is 100% false. The bust [is] still in the White House. In the Residence. Outside the Treaty Room.” Except that it isn’t. As the British Embassy said in a statement issued just a few hours later, “the bust now resides in the British ambassador’s residence in Washington D.C.” As the British Embassy explained in 2009, the bust “was lent for the first term of office of President Bush. When the President was elected for his second and final term, the loan was extended until January 2009. The new President has decided not to continue this loan and the bust has now been returned.” QED...So I suggest Mr. Pfeiffer bring this to a short, painless and honorable conclusion: a simple admission that he got it wrong and that my assertion was correct. An apology would be nice, but given this White House’s arm’s-length relationship with truth — and given Ryan Zimmerman’s hot hitting — I reckon the Nationals will win the World Series before I receive Pfeiffer’s mea culpa.
If you're going to call someone a liar -- especially someone who is much smarter than you'll ever hope to be -- you'd better have the goods. Pfeiffer did not, which left him wide open to Krauthammer's cutting "arm's length" slap. Keep this episode in mind next time someone connected to the Obama operation stomps his or her feet and emphatically insists that something is "100 pecent false." Their devotion to facts is lukewarm, to be kind.