Political Partisans Enjoy Being Lied To: A Series

Frank Bruni on Elizabeth Warren’s refusal to tell the truth about the middle-class tax increases that would be needed to pay for her health-care scheme:

I was most struck by how she refused to say whether Medicare for All would require a middle-class tax increase. One of the debate’s moderators, George Stephanopoulos, asked her, and then Biden pressed her, but she never grew flustered and never succumbed, instead stressing over and over that in terms of people’s reduced health care costs, they’d be ahead of the game.

You could call that deceptive. But you could also call it disciplined. I shook my head as I watched it, but I also tipped my hat.

The elevation of the team-sports aspect of politics above other more substantive considerations leads, seemingly inexorably, to the admiration of skillful lying for mere technique’s sake. Those of you who were paying attention in the Nineties will remember how Bill Clinton’s sycophants absolutely celebrated his dishonesty and its effectiveness.

But if you admire Warren for being deceptive, then why condemn, say, Donald Trump for his bullying schoolyard antics? Because that works, too. And if effectiveness is your criterion, then tip your hat to that.

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