[ by Charles Cameron — Benjamin Wittes twice, also a pointer to Clint Watts ]
Benjamin Wittes and Quinta Jurecic at the Lawfare blog have an above-my-unpaid-grade examination of the Presidential oath of office — and what happens when, in the case of a given President, it falls into widespread disrepute: What Happens When We Don’t Believe the President’s Oath? Just the fact that this question is being raised is remarkable. For my purposes, though, it’s the mention of leaks about leaking — a serpent bites tail concept, and hence a signal of potential significance — that I want to capture in passing:
All this culminated rather comically in a recent State Department memo by acting legal advisor Richard Visek condemning leaks and advocating that department employees instead make use of State’s internal dissent channel—a memo which itself promptly leaked to the press. Similarly, when press secretary Sean Spicer demanded to examine the phones of White House staffers to check for leaking and ordered staffers not to speak to the press about the meeting, Politico quickly got hold of the story.
I’d been meaning to find a suitable leak about leaking serpent for a while now, and Wittes’ article affords me this opportunity.
Once again, the self-reflexive form is, as Doug Hofstadter showed us in Gödel, Escher, Bach, a signal of likely special interest. In this regard it resembles such other forms as chiasmus (mirroring, eg “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth”).
O happy day, here’s a chiasmus from Aeschylus, entirely apt to Wittes’ post:
It is not the oath that makes us believe the man, but the man the oath.
Wittes has a follow-up post, Ten Questions for President Trump, today. Also of note, Clint Watts‘ tweet-streak today beginning here:
1- this may be the single dumbest thing a sitting President has done https://t.co/aFYVW8f1kX
— Clint Watts (@selectedwisdom) March 4, 2017