The Great Liars

I have a friend deeply involved in politics — he put Nancy Pelosi in office — who told me “the newspapers don’t know a tenth of what’s going on.” I told him I was surprised he put it that high. No less than in private lives, government doesn’t want the bad stuff getting out. It will tell the public the bare minimum, and prevaricate if necessary. Obamacare is just the latest example, but let’s not get into that. Presidents conceal intentions as much as possible so that those who have an opposing interest don’t learn before the time is right, ideally when it is too late. Woodrow Wilson said he wouldn’t send the boys to war, but did. Franklin Roosevelt said the same thing, and did. LBJ wanted to send the boys to war, and the Tonkin Gulf incident was manufactured. Bush made himself believe in WMDs in Iraq to send the boys to war. Obama nearly sent the boys to war over Syria, and was only stopped at the last minute. I think you get the idea. With the exception of FDR, the presidents got caught with their hands in the cookie jar. More than 70 years later people who interest themselves in  the matter still have some or a lot of doubt about whether Roosevelt knew the Imperial Japanese Navy was headed south to bomb the bejesus out of Pearl Harbor. Count me in the latter camp. It will never be proved conclusively at this late date, but the cover up has unraveled to the point the Roosevelt industry is reduced to blustering denials that their man could have been so wicked as to knowingly allow thousands of American fighting men to perish for reasons of state. But the president was a realist. He knew the U.S. was running out of time before the punch-drunk British sued for peace. That would free Hitler to concentrate all the Reich’s formidable might on the Soviets in a one-front war and bring that to a successful conclusion. And then America would be in alone and in the cross-hairs. To FDR’s surprise, the country brushed off two German attacks on American warships. So he knew it was going to take something major to jolt us out of our reluctance to get involved in another European war. The losses suffered at Pearl Harbor in ships and men were like a two-by-four alongside a mule’s head. It got the country’s attention.

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