Paul Krugman today writes about the Little Lie Technique. You’ve heard of the Big Lie, of course. Krugman defines the “little lie” as
… the small accusation invented out of thin air, followed by another, and another, and another. Little Lies arenâ€™t meant to have staying power. Instead, they create a sort of background hum, a sense that the person facing all these accusations must have done something wrong.
Little lies can be manufactured from trivial things, like the falsehood that Al Gore claimed to have invented the Internet or the Bill Clinton haircut story. These stories sometimes arise from sloppy reporting, but I think most of the time political operatives make them up and feed them to reporters. There’s little fallout when the story turns out to be false, because it was such a trivial matter. But the Little Lies add up. And, of course, the Little Lies get repeated by the political hacks doing commentary on CNN and Faux Snooze and MSNBC, and by bloggers. By the time the stories are debunked everyone’s attention has wandered somewhere else.
This is the context in which you need to see the wild swings Republicans have been taking at Nancy Pelosi.
First, there were claims that the speaker of the House had demanded a lavish plane for her trips back to California. One Republican leader denounced her â€œarrogance of extravaganceâ€ â€” then, when it became clear that the whole story was bogus, admitted that he had never had any evidence.
Now thereâ€™s Ms. Pelosiâ€™s fact-finding trip to Syria, which Dick Cheney denounced as â€œbad behaviorâ€ â€” unlike the visit to Syria by three Republican congressmen a few days earlier, or Newt Gingrichâ€™s trip to China when he was speaker.
Ms. Pelosi has responded coolly, dismissing the administrationâ€™s reaction as a â€œtantrum.â€ But itâ€™s more than that: the hysterical reaction to her trip is part of a political strategy, aided and abetted by news organizations that give little lies their time in the sun.
Josh Marshall wrote late last night, “From the start of this sub-controversy over Speaker Pelosi’s comments in Damascus I’ve suspected a tampering hand from the White House.”
You may have heard the story that Pelosi said she had conveyed a message from Israel to the Syrians, but Prime Minister Olmert’s office issued a statement that seemed to contradict what Pelosi said. “With admirable diligence,” Josh snarked, the Washington Post took the Olmert statement at face value and blew it up into a big bleeping deal. And ever since news stories and commenters have repeated this story that either showed Pelosi was lying or didn’t know what she was doing.
Josh quotes a Ha’aretz article that straightens out what actually happened, and of course this vindicates Pelosi. Josh also writes,
Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) is the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, a Holocaust survivor and very close to AIPAC. He was with Pelosi in the key meetings in Jerusalem and Damascus and he says “The speaker conveyed precisely what the prime minister and the acting president asked.”
Josh also quotes an article from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency by Ron Kampeas. This is Kampeas:
If that was the case, why did Olmert need to make a clarification, as Israelis were not speaking on the record. Lantos suggested there was pressure from the White House.
“It’s obvious the White House is desperate to find some phony criticism of the speaker’s trip, even though it was a bipartisan trip,” said Lantos, a Holocaust survivor who is considered the Democrat closest to the pro-Israel lobby. “I have nothing but contempt and disdain for the attempt to undermine this trip.”
Pelosi was sandbagged? And get this —
Last year, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice talked Olmert into a 48-hour cease-fire during the war with Hezbollah to allow humanitarian relief, but within hours Israeli planes were bombing again, to Rice’s surprise and anger. Olmert had received a call, apparently from Cheney’s office, telling him to ignore Rice.
These people so creep me out. Anyway, Josh just posted a YouTube video about this.
TPM TV: April 9, 2007
And get this, from Think Progress —
Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV), who traveled last week with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as part of her delegation to the Middle East, said this morning on C-Span that Pelosi told Bush of the trip to Syria a day before they left, and Bush did not object.
Rahall said, â€œThe Speaker had met with President Bush in the halls of the U.S. Capitol just the day before we left and mentioned to him that we were going to Syria. No response at all from the President.â€ …
… Despite the White Houseâ€™s public rhetoric that the trip was a â€œbad idea,â€ President Bush â€œdid not tell her not to go, nor did the State Department tell us not to go,â€ Rahall said. â€œThe State Department was certainly aware of our traveling to Syria and our full itinerary. And there were State Department officials in every meeting that we had on this codel. So that is all hogwash as far as Iâ€™m concerned.â€
She was sandbagged, people. The Bushies must be scared to death of her.
Update: The little lies fabricated about Barack Obama are a tad feeble.
I really do appreciate this post and the fine educational critique offered to counter the introduction and consequences of the ‘little lies’ behavior so cherished by the righties. Little lies by little rovians, foiled by careful examination, once again. Eventually, this new medium of the internet and blogs will help raise the critical thinking capacity of all Americans.
They should be scared of her. She’s effective.
I knew the Olmert retraction/denial was a White House prompt as soon as I heard the ‘axis of evil’ quote from it. This is Bushite, not Likudnik rhetoric.
[Comment deleted for being extremely stupid. Please consult comment rules, especially #7 and 7a. — maha]
Kathy–I see you’re no stranger to the ‘little lies’ yourself, starting with 3 of them in your first sentence. Well done, unless the RNC isn’t paying you. Then you’re either a sucker or insane.
That CNN clip is appalling…there’s something very fishy with the MSM lately, all across the board it’s turning into Bush mouthpieces.
It’s actually quite glaring,, and they’re either incredibly stupid and taking the bait from the GOP slime machine, or it’s a conspiracy. I fear the latter, Bush owns the MSM.
[Comment deleted because commenter doesn’t understand that hurling insults, making claims without proof, and generally regurgitating her programming is not “discussion.” Sticks and stones, etc. Make a substantive comment, dimwit, and I’ll allow it to stay in the thread. If all you’re going to do is drool on my blog, get lost. — maha]