You can fool some people
JOHN REINIERS, More Than WordsMy inclination is to use undisputed facts as a backdrop to the formulation of an opinion. But if a Democrat knows that my politics are right of center, he or she will either not read what I have to say, and move on to a writer who agrees with their politics; or they will assume the facts I have quoted are out of context, or untrue.
Published: September 30, 2012
Published: September 30, 2012
My curiosity was piqued when reading President Lincoln's well-known quotation, "You can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time."
In doing my research I Googled only the first part of the quote figuring I'd get a multitude of hits. And I did. But the first hit was a George Bush quotation: "You can fool some of the people some of the time, and those are the ones you want to concentrate on."
I thought it odd that Bush would say that, so I next Googled that precise quote and got an astounding number of hits. Wow! It was obviously true. One blogger trumpeted "Fox news watchers have a hard time understanding how they were so duped." The Dubya haters were elated. As the Urban dictionary said after reporting this quote, "The most inept president the United States ever had." (It seemed odd they used the word "United.")
The fact is, it was indeed said by Bush, but at his first appearance at the annual Gridiron Club dinner with Washington's top journalists on March 25, 2001, in which it is customary for Presidents to attend, ever since Benjamin Harrison, and poke fun at themselves. Bush had a field day joking about his foot-in-mouth disease. It was reported accurately on the front page of the BBC News in England, under the title "Bush mocks Bush," along with a string of hilarious self-deprecating remarks he made –undoubtedly inspired by the Jon Stewart "news" show.
It seems odd that you never see any inspirational quotations of Bush 43 – say from a State of the Union Address – until you realize the major media outlets influence everything we read, hear or see.
So I wondered if Abe Lincoln actually said the "You can fool" quote ascribed to him. Various dates and locations have been advanced as to when and where Lincoln said this. These words didn't appear in any press account, or in any of his published works. Even Lincoln scholars don't believe he said this, yet I always believed he did.
At least Bush did say the words ascribed to him, even though hordes of Bush detractors jumped at the early out-of-context postings by elated Democrats. These were committed progressive liberals sticking it to Fox viewers for being fooled, when, as it turned out they fooled themselves and a gazillion other thrilled internet-using liberals.
Interestingly, Lincoln has been also attributed to this quote: "You can please some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time."
It strikes me that the "you can please" quotation was an attempt to soften the harsher quotation, but this one too couldn't be verified through contemporary news accounts.
But the "You can fool" quote has legs now-a-days in our divisive society and is used often as a snide, pejorative attack on a political opponent, whereas the former is really more useful for a clever politician, casting himself as a temperate wise man; sensibly explaining his or her support for controversial legislation. (After all, it is true that you can't please everybody.)
As to "fooling" people, I would argue it is directly related to the large number of traditional media outlets, which provide fuel to highly partisan bloggers and their followers. In the scheme of things Fox News is a small media player.
This brings to mind the philosophical question, "If a tree falls in the forest and there's no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?" Well sound is sound only if someone is there to hear it. What progressive liberal watches or listens to Fox? I can recall when those unbelievably sick video clips of the now disgraced ACORN were shown on Fox which were ignored by the rest of media.
The reason: ACORN (The Association of Community Organizations for Reform) was the largest radical group in the U.S., and had close ties to, and defined President Obama. So when that tree fell in the forest, no Obama supporters heard it. Here's an example of people being fooled by not knowing the facts, rather than being fooled by lies or spin.
We are at the mercy of those who tell us what the facts are; or lace fact with opinion; or simply report what they want us to know. The traditional media dictate what will be the accepted narrative for all news cycles.
This should remind us of Will Rogers' famous quip when he opened up his monologue in a 1915 show with, "Well, what should we talk about? I ain't got anything to say. All I know I read in the papers."
If that was true then in those days with limited media, it certainly is today. The major media outlets simply overwhelm and reinforce the value system of those millions of voters who cherish their government support and those who make wages free from income taxes.
Consider the 70 million voters who earn wages but pay no income taxes, the 44 million on food stamps, the 50 million on Medicaid and the 26.8 million who earn less than $43,998; have less than $3,150 in investment income, and are eligible for a maximum $5,751 earned income tax credit. Some are good people who have fallen on hard times through no fault of their own; but many lack education and marketable skills and continue to make poor choices throughout their lives.
These are the people who see everything through the prism of government spending for their programs and their entitlements. They know who to vote for, and the politician reciprocates. When that inevitable train wreck happens, these will be the voters who will realize they had been fooled – as they riot or protest – think Greece, Italy, and Spain – against a then bankrupt federal government which by then will have consolidated all power in Washington.
John Reiniers, a regular columnist for Hernando Today, lives in Spring Hill.