Only George Costanza could turn one simple lie into three complicated ones.
The popular Seinfeld character was the master of earning the uneasy laugh, probably never so much as when he advised title star Jerry, “It’s not a lie if you believe it.”
Had George been making a logical observation about the nature of lying, he would have had a valid point. If you ask me the time and I look at my watch and tell you it’s 3:30 without noticing that my watch had stopped an hour ago, then I didn’t lie to you about the time. I did nothing worse than unintentionally pass along bad information.
But that’s not what George was saying.
“It’s not a lie if you believe it” was George’s justification for lying to yourself that you believe something so that you can lie to yourself again that you aren’t lying to someone else.
George was the master of mendacity, but then there are other ways to believe things that simply aren’t true.
The first of those, sad to say, is when one’s faculties have declined to the point where one just doesn’t know any better.
That’s the feeling I’ve gotten repeatedly over the last two weeks, as Presidentish Joe Biden tells one whopper after another — with what looks like complete sincerity.
I won’t bore you with yet another recount of the cascading series of errors leading up to and during the ongoing Biden’s Bungled Bugout.
What amazed me even more than the bad decisions that created the deadly fiasco was the way in which Biden tried to sell the evacuation as a modern Dunkirk or another Berlin Airlift.
As Michael Rubin wrote on Saturday:
The real difference is that President Harry S. Truman ordered the Berlin Airlift to stop an enemy bent on denying freedom to the citizens of West Berlin. The crisis in Berlin originated in Moscow. Truman sought to protect people by holding firm. The crisis in Kabul is one solely of President Joe Biden’s own making.
What about Dunkirk? Then, the British evacuated more than 300,000 British troops and other allied personnel from Dunkirk, in northern France, where German troops had surrounded them. Kabul not only pales in scale, but the British did not leave Dunkirk in order to surrender, but rather in order to fight another day; there is no indication that Biden has any intention — his most recent speech notwithstanding — to do anything to prevent the empowerment of radical forces which his policies have unleashed.
But remember now Biden’s dull, tired-sounding speech of a week ago:
“It’s an incredible operation,” Biden said. But, he added, “the evacuation of thousands of people from Kabul is going to be hard and painful” no matter when it began. “There is no way to evacuate this many people without pain and loss,” Biden said.
In Biden’s younger days, he wasn’t shy about telling whoppers like that one. The difference today is, he seems to believe it. Or, maybe more accurately, Biden doesn’t seem to be aware that he’s repeating a false narrative crafted for him by others.
Biden’s constant irritation — checking his watch, storming out on the press, dismissing unwanted questions with snark — are all indictions of nothing good. They indicate that Biden either believes the lies he’s telling, that senility has made him a cranky (and out of it) old man, or both.
Worse than believing something that isn’t true is believing something that isn’t true because of an inability to process contradicting data.
“Reasoning” is what we used to call it, and it’s not Biden’s strong suit.
Here’s a John Cardillo tweet from Friday:
High ranking source in IC told me IC officials know Biden is cognitively disabled, they argued with him to not give the order, he became combative and did it anyway.
They’re concerned for global stability.
Sentiment is that Kamala will at least make lucid decisions.
— John Cardillo (@johncardillo) August 27, 2021
“The order” in question here was Biden’s order to close Bagram before getting our civilians out of Afghanistan.
Biden somehow got the lie in his head that our best-defend airbase and logistical base in the entire Central Asia region could safely be closed first.
It was an operational self-own unlike anything I can think of in history.
The closest analogy I can come up with is, if Napoleon had marched 800 miles into Russia, still had 200 miles to go until Moscow, yet had ordered his troops to set fire to their own supply depots.
What happened historically to Napolean in Russia was shocking enough, but this would have been worse.
As I’ve seen firsthand with one grandparent and one great-grandparent, it isn’t uncommon for people in cognitive decline to seize on the first idea they come up with (or are shown) and then become unable to understand or entertain anything different.
If that first idea is a bad one — like closing Bagram — and that idea is in the addled brain of The Most Powerful Man in the World™, then nothing good can result.
I asked in the headline “What if Biden believes his own lies?”
But it isn’t really a “What if?” is it?