Please Don’t Get Used to This

Martin Longman at the Washington Monthly makes an important point:

So, here we have two quotes from the president. They are both short and succinct and as uncomplicated as statements can be:

“I know Matt Whitaker.” –October 10, 2018
“I don’t know Matt Whitaker.” –November 9, 2018

Those two statements would not necessarily contradict each other if they came in reverse chronological order. After all, when you spend some time with someone you had not previously met, then it’s no longer true that you do not know them, but it remains true that you didn’t know them at an earlier period of time. But you can’t know someone in October and no longer know them in November.


There are a lot of people discussing the constitutionality of putting Whitaker in charge of the Department of Justice and speculating about why it was done and what it might mean. Those are all interesting angles on this story which should be discussed. But I just want to pause for one second to point at those two conflicting statements from the president of the United States.

“I know Matt Whitaker.”
“I don’t know Matt Whitaker.”

He has absolutely no conscience or shame, no pangs of guilt or any possibility of feeling remorse when he contradicts himself like this. Say what you want, but this isn’t normal.

It is far too easy to become inured. Bad things happen if we do.

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2 Responses to Please Don’t Get Used to This

  1. anon says:

    i think its the same thing going on in brazil. you shout one thing and whether its true or false, it gets repeated and argued. Nobody is sure what to believe. You just keep repeating trump or bolosonaro. I think the answer is to dare your friends to pay you 2 dollars each time you say the word Trump or Bolsonaro or Netanyahu. If you say the word, you are part of the problem. People need to move on to other topics and stop repeating the fascists’ names/agendas. Trump can say i said this/didn’t mean that, and you are stuck in an endless loop arguing while its supporters gain from the notoriety/disucssion of the politico. I dunno, but I think talking about issues detached from the fascists’ names helps.

  2. Vic says:

    English IS your primary language, right? Are you just choosing to be confused by this apparent contradiction?

    I know YOU, Michael. As if if anyone asked me, “hey, you know that professor at Miami that has a blog?” Why, yes, I do. But I also don’t KNOW you. This are not contradictory statements for the obvious reason that the meaning is in the speakers intent, not the actual words spoken.

    Just as it was in Trump’s statements. As he himself explained after he made them. You either didn’t see this explanation, or you are still choosing to think all word meaning is patently absolute.

    We’re also one of the people thouroughly flummoxed by Rumsfeld’s known unknowns statement?

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