Analysis & Opinions - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

The Night That You Told Me Those Not-So-Little White Lies

| Mar. 18, 2017

So we have a lying President. They keep rolling out of his orotund-shaped mouth viz.

  • The attendance at his inauguration in 2017 exceeded that of Obama eight years earlier.
  • He would have won the popular vote as well as the electoral vote in 2016 had the opposition not infiltrated thousands of illegal aliens onto the voter rolls.
  • Obama "wiretapped" him.

But does it really matter that our President has a penchant for non-truth? The New York Times maintains that it does, and it recently devoted a one-page spread containing the message that truth is all-important.

According to ex-President Obama's political director, David Simas, religious institutions, academia, and the media have traditionally set the limits of acceptable discourse. Now, through Facebook and Twitter, one can get around this restriction. This creates a whole new permission structure, a sense of social affirmation for what was once thought unthinkable. Or as Barack Obama himself put it: The new media ecosystem "means everything is true and nothing is true."

These observations are contained in an interview that David Remnick had with Barack Obama and some of his colleagues, published in the November 28, 2016 issue of The New Yorker.

But what are foreign leaders to think of this prevaricating President who, steeped in a show-biz mentality for much of his adult life, has little regard for or consciousness of the larger truths behind America’s foreign policy. What if he acts on his imperfect knowledge?

Statements and views expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author and do not imply endorsement by Harvard University, the Harvard Kennedy School, or the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

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For Academic Citation:

Cogan, Charles G. "The Night That You Told Me Those Not-So-White Lies." Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, March 18, 2017