Human history's most obvious point: Here at this incomparable site, we could never be mad at Kevin Drum.
Yes, we preferred the old Kevin Drum, the one who hadn't been radicalized. But we've now surveyed every one of our youthful analysts. They all say, to a man, to a woman, that they still love their Uncle Drum.
That said, good grief! When it comes to skill-free living, we're required to post the brief excerpt shown below. In it, we're back to the question of when to call something a "lie:"
DRUM (7/8/17): [The Daily Howler] says "profoundly misleading," I say "lie." Potato, potahto.In the post we're citing, Drum quotes something we wrote in 1995 to generate a contradiction or inconsistency of some type. In the process, though, he misses the basic point, which appears in these various raiments:
Misleading statements aren't necessarily lies.As happenstance has it, we're going to be discussing this point again this week. But good God! This is a distinction so basic that any third-grader can grasp it, and does. But we liberals are so eager to shout "liar" and "lies" that all previous knowledge fades away, like the morning dew
False statements aren't necessarily lies.
Even profoundly misleading statements aren't necessarily lies.
The vast majority of false or misleading statements are probably made in good faith. A lie is an inaccurate statement which was made deliberately.
Just to be clear:
A "lie" is a false statement made with the knowledge that the statement is false. By way of contrast, a false or misleading statement can be made in total good faith.
If we might borrow from Groucho:
They're simple mistakes, of the kind that get made every day.
People! Almost surely, most false or misleading statements aren't lies! Everybody understands this, except in these tribal times.
What is the potential problem with calling a politician's statement a "lie?" Here we go, for the ten millionth time:
When you say a statement is false, you're making a single claim. When you call a statement a "lie," you're actually making two claims:
You're claiming that the statement is false. Plus, you're saying the false statement was made deliberately.
In most instances, the Kellyanne Conways jump with joy when we move from "misstatement" to "lie." They do so for the following reason:
Confronted with the obvious fact that their client is making false statements, they can now create a different dispute—a dispute about the claim that he did so deliberately. They get to move from a point on which they can't win to a point on which they basically can't lose.
Let's be clear:
It isn't that there's some ultimate rule about calling some statement a "lie." It's just that it tends to be a bad way to win a debate.
Beyond that, Jesus Christ! At what point will we liberals advance all the way to fourth grade? Misleading statements and false statements are not necessarily lies!
Might we adjust Drum's old saw? Here we go:
We say potato, you say "let me think of a way I can fail in a cable debate I should win."
A "lie" is always told in bad faith. Misleading/false statements are not.
You can't find a 9-year-old who isn't familiar with this logic. In this tribalized land of skill-free living, you can't find a professional liberal who is.
Also this, regarding the mystery of cuts: In his post, Drum refers to the 1995 debate about the GOP Medicare proposal. That gong-show debate went unresolved for at least a year. It turned on this utterly tedious question, which completely overwhelmed the journalists of that time:
Were Republicans proposing a Medicare cut? Or were they merely slowing the rate at which Medicare would grow?
We wrote about this in the Baltimore Sun in 1995 or 1996. In August 1999, as a hedge against future confusion, we posted three treatments of this baffling conceptual problem—medium, short and long.
We've linked to those reports many times. Krugman linked to them once. People, we're just saying!
Absolutely nothing about this conundrum is new. It's just that, in our land of skill-free living, it's impossible to move information or insight along.
In this land of skill-free living, our professional journalist/pundit class seems to exist to keep such things from happening. No analytical error is ever dispelled. We live for confusion and ignorance.