Just a few presidential lies

The Daily Reader

Interesting article in The New Yorker by Jill Lepore about the congressional investigation into the January 6 attack on the capitol. Definitely worth reading.

A journalist and historian at Harvard, Lepore summarizes the case that the congressional investigators made against Trump. And concludes, rightly so, that Trump attempted to steal the 2020 presidential election.

In doing so, she criticizes the investigators’s report. As she sees it, it doesn’t go deep enough. 

Yes, she writes, Trump ginned up an insurrection by continually asserting the lie that Biden stole the election. But why did so many millions of Americans believe Trump’s lie?

By not asking this question, much less answering it, the congressional investigators pulled their punches, she concludes.

Lepore offers several reasons as to why Americans believed Trump’s election lie, including, “the way in which Facebook and Twitter profited by spreading misinformation about the election.”

I’ll add a reason she doesn’t mention.

Our presidents routinely lied to us. So you can never be certain when they’re telling the truth.

I’ll relate just a few presidential lies used to justify invading other countries in my lifetime . . .

President Johnson lied about why we were waging war against Vietnam. As we learned when former U.S. Military analyst Daniel Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers, a secret Department of Defense report. Did the feds try to punish Johnson for sending thousands of young Americans to their death? No, they tried to prosecute Ellsberg. Thus punishing the truth teller.

President Nixon continued the lies about Vietnam. Promising peace was at hand when, as a candidate, he was working behind the scenes to sabotage peace talks. The voters rewarded Nixon by electing him president.

And, of course, President George W. Bush, who justified the invasion of Iraq on a claim that wasn’t true—that Iraq possessed “weapons of mass destruction.” One year later, he was reelected.

In each instance, millions and millions of Americans stood by the president, even though we had to know they were lying.

I’m not condoning the January 6 insurrection. Just pointing out that falling for the lies our presidents tell us is not at all rare.

On a related topic . . .

Just finished watching season two of Slow Horses, a thrilling spy series based on novels by Mick Herron.

It’s about MI5 spies in England, but it easily could work with CIA operatives right here in the U.S.

In Slow Horses, the real heroes are a bunch of sad sack MI5 misfits, who’ve been unfairly relegated to mindless and meaningless paper-pushing in the hopes that they will quit.

However, the sad sacks prove to be smarter and braver than the people who actually run MI5. And so the misfits wind up valiantly save England from diabolically evil threats that the spies in charge are too clueless or corrupt to even recognize.

Eventually, the MI5 bosses lie to conceal their incompetence from the public, thereby, keeping their jobs. The underlying theme is straight-up MAGA—don’t believe anything anyone in the deep state tells you.

And yet, I, the great lefty, lapped it up. As did, ironically, Jill Lepore.

In retrospect, we’re fortunate even more people didn’t fall for Trump’s lies. Apparently, there’s a little MAGA in us all.

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What Ben's Reading

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Issue of
Jan. 12 – Jan. 25, 2023 
Vol. 52, No. 7


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