Chris Bertram of Crooked Timber has an intersting post on what speech act theory can teach us about smears:
Following the whole Max Cleland, Ann Coulter, Mark Steyn controversy the other day, I was struck by the fact that the defenders of the smearers thought it a sufficient reply to their critics to say that what was said was literally true. (Whether it was literally true is, of course, another matter.) For once, it seems to me, philosophy can be of some use in showing that such a reply is inadequate.
It's nice to see Austin's “How to Do Things With Words” applied so neatly to modern politics.