Log in

No account? Create an account

"You Can't Handle The Truth"

The title quote is from the 1990 film A Few Good Men. It's been in the news  because Barack Obama's campaign strategist quoted   it recently in response to a group of hecklers from the Romney campaign.

People need to stop using that quote. They almost always mean "I'm telling you the truth, and you're just not strong enough to handle it". That's not what it meant in the movie. It originates in an interrogation scene. A young lawyer, played by Tom Cruise, demands of  Jack Nicholson's character Colonel Nathan Jessup "I want the truth!". Jessup answers with the now famous line "You can't handle the truth".

Jessup  could have just said "OK here's the truth". But he didn't (although he did after some more badgering.) The famous words are clearly said with the purpose of being evasive. "You can't handle the truth" in this case was just an excuse for not giving the truth.

In fairness to Axelrod, he is not the first and probably not the last to quote that line inappropriately.

Here's the relevant scene from A Few Good Men: