Darren Richardson

April 13, 2011

When Arizona Sen. John Kyl said that “well over 90 percent” of what Planned Parenthood does was related to abortion services, a basic examination of the facts showed that number to be greatly exaggerated. The actual, factual figure is more like 3 percent, at least according to The Rachel Maddow Show.

No matter. Kyl’s office has already clarified that the 90 percent figure was “not intended to be a factual statement.”

Comedy Central star Stephen Colbert was all over this weird wording, sending out a stream of tweets with the hash tag: #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement. An example: For the past ten years, John Kyl has been two children in a very convincing John Kyl suit. #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement

Pretty funny. Ha-ha. That’s a knee-slapper, alright.

Lest the Left, Center and a big chunk of the Right think Kyl’s defense of his misstatement is laughable, just wait until the next GOP nominee picks Kyl for the vice presidential slot.

If you thought facts didn’t matter in American politics before Kyl’s stroke-of-genius response, just wait and see where the senator’s words take him next. He has freed himself from any pretense of ever speaking literal truths again. He can excuse everything that is factual in nature that he doesn’t agree with by dismissing it as non-factual. And, perhaps best of all for his political future, he can interchange facts with fictions, feelings and fabulism without bothering to differentiate unless the press calls him on it. The reporters and media personalities who bother doing so will soon enough be dismissed as mere liberals, so the people who are prone to vote for Kyl anyway will just laugh it off.

They’ll likely be laughing all the way to Washington in 2013.

In one incredibly brilliant tactical response to what could have been a public relations nightmare, Kyl has more or less ensured that he has to be on any ticket that can beat Barack Obama in 2012. Why’s that? Because Kyl and Kyl alone now has carte blanche to say exactly what he wants, whenever he wants and wherever he wants. Not only will he be exercising his right to Free Speech to the fullest, he will be speaking freely on whatever he damned well pleases. Look for him to incorporate an “emphasis line” like “That’s a fact, Jack!” for his VP stump speech, and look for him to use it whether he is just making things up or actually citing facts.

Brilliant. In one two-part quantum leap, John Kyl has taken political oratory to an exponentially crazier level – and that’s exactly what it takes to win. Love him or hate him, Kyl has catapulted himself into the driver’s seat as the man to replace Joe Biden as our nation’s second-in-command. It doesn’t matter if Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Donald Trump or someone else wins the nomination. There’s going to be “ –Kyl” preceding the “2012” on the Republican ticket.

Kyl, who for 16 years has labored as “the other senator from Arizona” under the shadow of 2008 GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, is perhaps an unlikely figure to suddenly command so much power. Ah, but he earned it – and how!

The world is Kyl’s oyster now, and his vice presidency promises to transform the meaning of both words and the actions they inspire. Lesser men than Kyl have dreamt of being in this position, but only this man – this exaggerator of numerical facts, this political chess master and word-bending trailblazer, this Darwin of dictionaries – only this man is in a position to be able to say everything and mean nothing.

Kyl alone among all American politicians who have ever held office or dreamed of same has achieved Political Nirvana. We can deal with the consequences later. For now, awe and admiration of his freakish skills will suffice. Remember how you felt the first time you saw Mike Tyson knock a man senseless? I think you do.

Somewhere in between Hell and Purgatory, Spiro Agnew and Huey Long are dancing to the same tune.

NOTE: This column is #notintendedtobeafactualstatement

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