Why lie?

In his interview with Norah O’Donnell for 60 Minutes last week, Vice President Biden said this when asked to comment on Donald Trump:

The one thing I do — I’m disappointed in Donald Trump. I know what a showman and all that he is. But I really don’t think it’s healthy and I hope he reconsiders this sort of attack on all immigrants. I think that is beneath the country. I don’t think it’s where the American people are. And I hope he really doesn’t believe it.

Biden goes out of his way to assert that Trump’s opposition to illegal immigration is an “attack on all immigrants.” Why lie? Anyone who is paying attention knows that Trump’s position on immigration is addressed to illegal immigrants. Why efface the distinction between legal and illegal immigrants?

Biden is utterly representative of Democrats on this point. It could be that Biden and his fellow Democrats such as Hillary Clinton see no distinction between legal and illegal immigration. It could be that Biden sees illegal immigrants as a core constituency of the Democratic Party. It could be that Biden thinks it is in the Democrats’ interest to foment confusion among voters on this point. It could be that the man is a natural born demagogue. It could be all of the above.

In an insufferable conversation with the novelist Marilynne Robinson, President Obama said this:

Whenever I hear people saying that our problems would be solved without government, I always want to tell them you need to go to some other countries where there really is no government, where the roads are never repaired, where nobody has facilitated electricity going everywhere.

When Obama refers to “people saying that our problem would be solved without government,” he’s not talking about anarchists. He’s talking about, well, you know who.

Obama talks like this all the time. Why does he do it? It could be that Obama seeks to efface the distinction between “government” and “limited government.” It could be that Obama sees the Democratic Party as the party of “government.” It could be that Obama thinks it is in the Democrats’ interest to foment confusion among the voters on this point. It could be that the man is a natural born demagogue. It could be all of the above. In any event, this is one question slightly beyond the scope of Christopher Scalia’s observant Weekly Standard column “The Obama book club.”

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