How do you construct a convincing lie?
Just ask President Obama’s speechwriters. They’re experts in the art of not telling the truth, so writing a government-is-good commencement address for him to deliver to the 2013 graduating class of Ohio State University was doubtlessly a regular day in the office for them.
Basically what they did was throw a feel-good truth on top of a lie to make it more palatable to the gullible audience. Then voila! A dangerously indigestible message suddenly became five-star dining. Here’s a snippet of what they wrote for the President:
“Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems… They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because what they suggest is that our brave and creative e and unique experiment in self-rule is somehow just a sham with which we can’t be trusted.
“We have never been a people who place all our faith in government to solve our problems. We shouldn’t want to. But we don’t think the government is the source of all our problems either. Because we understand that this democracy is ours. And as citizens, we understand that it’s not about what America can do for us; it’s about what can be done by us, together, through the hard and frustrating but absolutely necessary work of self-government. And class of 2013, you have to be involved in that process.”
How any of that makes for an appropriate commencement speech is beyond me. Even so, it was well-played since the graduating class was doubtlessly filled with mushy-brained idealists. After four years of indoctrination, they’re already exceedingly vulnerable to further propaganda.
And Obama and his speechwriters know that.
So they started by mocking a true premise: “Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems… They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner.”
Then they took the next natural step by flat-out rebuffing what they just mocked: “You should reject these voices.” The fact that they’re making that statement into a no-duh line makes it that much more effective.
Finally, he added some feel-good lines about how the graduating class was part of a bigger, “brave and creative and unique experiment in self-rule” and how they “have to be involved in that process” of upholding democracy… which apparently entails supporting government.
It’s an inspiring charge. To go running right off a cliff.