You Gotta Call a Lie a Lie

Politics

Five thousand judges.

Ever since his administration*’s child-kidnapping ring was exposed, the president* has told this story about how “they” came into his office and “they” said we need 5,000 judges to handle cases on the border. His latest iteration of this saga came on Monday night, during his improv set in front of an audience of eager goobers in South Carolina.

This is all a lie. There is no “they.” This meeting never happened. Nobody ever told him that we needed 5,000 judges. As it happens, there have not been 5,000 judges in the entire history of the federal court system. There are only a little less than 900 judges working in the federal system now, so we do not have “thousands of judges already.” And the phantom “they” are wrong about how many judges we have handling these cases now. Congress has authorized 484 of these judges, and less than 400 are presently working. This whole passage is one bald-faced non-fact after another.

(I would have added, “…and the president* knows it,” but the president* doesn’t know anything about anything.)

He doesn’t care. The goobers don’t care. And, apparently, the elite political media is so banjaxed on the subject of civility and what they consider to be fairness that the president* could have said we have three million judges and half of them are Martians, and he would be said to be only “obfuscating” or “exaggerating,” especially about the number of Martians.

I mention this because, in an un-bylined piece on Monday, Dean Baquet, the executive editor of the Times, tied himself in a sheepshank trying to explain the rules under which his newspaper would call a lie a lie. (The piece was unbylined because Baquet did away with the job of NYT public editor over a year ago.) From the NYT:

Can you figure out what the standard is? I can’t. “We’ll demonstrate that it’s a lie but we won’t call it a lie because our readers might be confused if we call a lie a lie”? The real problem for all the rest of us is that, if you don’t call a lie for what it is, you can’t reasonably evaluate the motive the president* might have for telling it in the first place, and then persisting in it later.

Take, for example, the 5,000 Judges Lie. There is a distinct purpose behind it, and that is to delegitimize all legal restraints on the president*. The lie is in keeping with his attack on due process a week ago. He wants to gin up weaponized ignorance against the federal courts—possibly because he sees himself facing the business end of one somewhere down the line—and beginning by creating a phantom bureaucracy to rail against while creating a very real problem. This is straight out of the Republican playbook as rewritten in the days of Ronald Reagan: starve an agency until it’s overwhelmed, and then make it (and “government” generally) an object of scorn and ridicule because it can’t do its job.

The president* lies about 5,000 judges to demonstrate that he is the only one standing between the country and elite MS-13-enabling pettifoggers. Meanwhile, the actual courts on the actual border are understaffed and choking on more cases than they are equipped to handle. See, he will say, giving these people due process doesn’t work. And the buses start rolling from dawn to dusk, disappearing children into a dark and forbidding country.