Politics without truth: The reality of our time

James Kalb

"What is truth?" -- Pontius Pilate

"Truth is such a flyaway, such a slyboots, so untransportable and unbarrelable a commodity, that it is as bad to catch as light." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Pilate and Emerson were prophets: truth is slipping away from us.

We've heard for a while about "alternative facts" and "post-truth politics." Those who promoted those expressions, at least at first, were complaining about Donald Trump. But he seems comparatively old-fashioned, a figure out of real estate promotion, pro wrestling trash talk, and stand-up comedy. His stories are a personal performance, which seems a milder affair than the radical unreality of much of today's public life.

Compare a Trump speech with the "Russian collusion" affair or the campaign to discredit the Hunter Biden laptop. Leading politicians, elite journalists, and once-admired federal agencies, presenting themselves as serious and ethical people, worked together--with no concern for truth or fear of consequences--to construct or suppress explosive claims about misconduct in the inner circles of two presidential campaigns.

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