Part 1—Did Trump's nominee lie: Did Donald J. Trump's nominee tell a lie?
We don't have the slightest idea. In part, that's because we read the word of our favorite blogger!
The blogger in question is Kevin Drum. Yesterday, he dropped an L-bomb on the nominee's head. This made us wonder if the nominee in question had actually told a lie. But alas! Nothing in this passage addresses that basic question:
DRUM (1/30/17): Rep. Tom Price has been dogged for weeks by allegations that he got a special deal on stock in Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd. thanks to his status as a senior member of the House leadership (he's chairman of the Budget Committee). Price says it's all hooey: the deal he got was available to anyone who had invested in the company.We judge that Drum was snarking a bit concerning the question of falsehoods v. lies. In the end, he came down on the side of using the L-bomb in this particular case.
But now that turns out to be—what's the word? A falsehood. You know, the deliberate kind. Here's the Wall Street Journal:
"In fact, the cabinet nominee was one of fewer than 20 U.S. investors who were invited last year to buy discounted shares of the company—an opportunity that, for Mr. Price, arose from an invitation from a company director and fellow congressmen.
"The shares were discounted 12% off the traded price in mid-June only for investors who participated in a private placement arranged to raise money to complete a clinical trial. The company’s shares have tripled since the offering.
"....The discounted stock offer in Innate Immuno, as the company is known, was made to all shareholders in Australia and New Zealand—but not in the U.S....[Price] said he paid the same price as other investors in the private placement but didn’t say that the 12% discount wasn’t available to ordinary investors or that he was one of a select few who were invited to participate in the deal."
This was a "friends and family" deal, which is not uncommon for small companies doing private placements. The question is, why did Price lie about it? It's not illegal, and I don't think it violates congressional ethics rules. So what's going on here? Price doesn't even work for Donald Trump yet, but apparently he's already adopted the Trumpian habit of lying about everything even if you don't need to. It's good practice, I guess.
That said, did Trump's nominee actually lie? More sweepingly, has he "adopted the habit of lying about everything even if you don't need to?"
We're do old that we can remember when that pleasing claim was routinely directed at Candidate Gore. By early 2000, for instance, that claim had become the stock in trade of Newsweek's Bill Turque, who we judge to be a nice guy as well as a Gore biographer.
(As always, we liberals just sat there and took it.)
Let's return to the present! Did Trump's nominee, Rep. Price, actually lie about that stock deal? Assuming that he told a "falsehood," was his falsehood a lie?
Nothing in Drum's entire post actually speaks to that question! Meanwhile, we can't read the Journal report to which Drum links. It may provide some relevant information, but it's locked behind a subscriber's wall. You probably can't read it either.
Did Price lie about that deal? We know of no reason to doubt Drum's claim, but Drum provides no reason to believe it. We liberals gain pleasure from Drum's post, but it skips past some basic facts.
How do we know that a falsehood's a lie? We're so old that we can remember when questions like these were being widely debated about Donald J. Trump himself.
That was still happening as of last week. Since then, a new set of Trump-based disputes have arisen, principally concerning last Friday's executive order. Later today, those disputes will be partially supplanted by the outrage which results when he nominates someone for the Supreme Court.
In this age of Trump, the craziness, and the attendant disputes, are likely be continuous. That said, the question of the way we liberals use our words will likely stay front and center through a wide range of such episodes. Consider the latest example:
Was Donald J. Trump's executive order really "a Muslim ban?" Did Rudy Giuliani actually say it was?
We liberals are now answering those questions in our preferred tribal ways. When we do, we tend to set up pointless debates which we're destined to lose.
(This is one of our team's top skills. It ranks up there with our unsurpassed skill at falling asleep in the woods.)
Does it matter how we liberals use our words? In the current context, we ask this question for an obvious reason:
Within our English language, we have an endless array of words with which we can refer to misstatements. At a street-fighting time like this, does it really matter which of those words we use?
It's long been clear that we enjoy calling The Others "racists." In recent weeks, it's become clear that we enjoy dropping our L-Bombs too.
At a street-fighting time like this, does it matter if we casually refer to falsehoods as lies? Does it really matter which of our words we use?
In fairness, life becomes extremely simple if we simply employ favored words. With respect to inaccurate statements, just think of the annoying, confusing array of words the English language includes:
The English language lets us talk about falsehoods, misstatement and lies. But it also lets us talk about statements which are unfounded or supported.
It let's us say that a statement is false. But it also lets us say that a statement is "misleading."
It lets us talk about people who lie, but also about those who "dissemble." Sometimes people embroider, embellish, exaggerate. Are they different from people who lie?
(If a statement involves a "delusion," can it still be a "lie?" Crazy people can make misstatements. Can crazy people tell lies?)
Our English language lets us say that a presentation is "selective." This leads us to an outrageous question:
In the face of such a presentation, is it possible that someone might want to present a set of "alternative facts?"
At a street-fighting time like this, it feels good to drop our most potent bombs, to use our most aggressive words. It feels good to say that the other guy's statements are lies.
It may feel good, but it's often a way to start a discussion we're destined to lose. Over at CNN, Kayleigh McEnany can win these games in her sleep!
(Have you noticed an unfortunate fact? Have you noticed that McEnany's a hundred times smarter than we are?)
That said, our highly unimpressive team has spent the past twenty-five years preparing the way for November's triumph by Donald J. Trump. We've rarely missed a chance to miss a chance! Why should we end our self-defeating ways now that Trump's in the White House?
In the next few days, we'll discuss some of the way we make life easy for Donald J. Trump. We'll even claim that it actually matters how we use our words!
Tomorrow: Why do we have so many words? Also, what David Corn did.