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More Leaks, More Lies … and the Usual Confusion

June 23rd, 2012 - 3:40 pm

Let’s begin with the mission statement of PJ Media: Roger is always right. In the present case, he’s right to say the president is a liar. Which of course we all knew, we just didn’t know that he lied about his own life dozens of times in his so-called “memoir.”  Now we know that.  Thirty-eight times, at least.

But that’s only a good start, it’s only the beginning of the story. It’s not the end of the story, not by any means. After all, not even this president is perfect, and he often tells the truth. The problem is, how do you tell? It’s not like the old gag question, “how do you tell when he’s lying?” To which the ritual answer, “when his lips move,” isn’t right.  Sometimes the moving lips form truthful words.

Roger is very upset to have a president who lies, but those of us who live in Washington, D.C., are accustomed to lying presidents (indeed, we probably wouldn’t know what to do with a president who always told the truth), and we tend to take it for granted that every statement by every public official must be subjected to Ronald Reagan’s orders: trust, but verify. The American system can cope with a lot, provided that those in the four branches of government (the fourth branch being the media) follow orders and relentlessly track down the truth.

One of our many problems at the moment is that too many folks are failing to follow orders.

It’s more than a little amusing to me that there is a great hullabaloo in the Force right now over Obama’s many false statements about his own life, but virtually no reaction to the so-called “leaks” about his behavior as president, crucial elements of which are almost certainly false. To review the bidding:

  • We are told that President Obama, frustrated at the slow pace of the cyber war against Iran, turned to his buddy Benjamin Netanyahu to make things work right.  I find that unbelievable.  He doesn’t like Netanyahu, doesn’t want to work closely with him, doesn’t even visit Israel.  Ergo, that part of the story is false.  (I do believe that Israel and the United States–and probably others as well–worked and still work together to sabotage Iran, I just don’t think that the president, between shouts of “faster, please!” asked his secretary to get good old Bibi on the line to speed things up).
  • We are told that President Obama personally approves the hit list for our hellfire missiles in the Middle East. I find that unbelievable as well, not least of all because such behavior would leave him liable to prosecution for war crimes, and, whatever else he is, he’s a lawyer.  He knows that.  Ergo, he’d have someone else take that risk.

It does not surprise or even alarm me to learn that politicians make false statements to journalists, thereby deceiving us. What does alarm me is the spectacular laziness on the part of so many journalists to check the statements they are fed. Thus, to go back to Roger’s theme, the important thing about the “true facts” about the president’s life is that they bring us closer to understanding who he really is. I care a lot about who Barack Obama really is, and one of the most distressing elements of life in America these days is how little we seem to know about this president.

Many misleading statements come out of the White House, the Congress, the judiciary, and the media–the four branches of government–every day. When the president says “Assad must go,” and then does nothing to accomplish that goal, it is obvious that the statement was deceptive, and that deception is every bit as serious as those surrounding the gunrunning scandal. Indeed, by encouraging opponents of the Syrian regime to believe that the United States is really going to help them, the president in all likelihood has contributed to the casualty toll. To that deception we now have yet another, a story designed to have us believe that the CIA is actually doing something serious to support the Syrian opposition.  But if you read the story, you find that it only says the CIA is “helping allies decide” whether to help fight Assad, and if so, which elements in the opposition.  It’s a deception designed to support the earlier deception, and the same New York Times that gave us the first one thoughtfully gave us the second as well.

So, once again, misleading information was fed to the press, and the press did not track down the facts.  Nor did Congress, for that matter, nor any pundit that I can find. Indeed, so far as I can tell, the “leaks” have been taken as gospel by most everyone, even though a bit of research (phone calls, for the most part) and a dash of common sense show the opposite.

It’s tempting to blame the confusion on politics, and certainly there is a political component. But don’t underestimate the enormous power of sloth in these matters. Tracking down the truth is hard work, and writing it requires a bit of courage as well, especially when the herd has bought into a deception.

As Joshua Reynolds so marvelously put it, “there is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking.”

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