Tuesday, January 24, 2017

To understand Kellyanne Conway’s ‘alternative facts,’ pick up Hannah Arendt

Trump: The Reader’s Guide

By Bret Stephens, WSJ
Jan. 23, 2017 7:01 p.m. ET

Angela Merkel is reading Playboy — for the articles.

That’s according to a report from Bloomberg, which noted that the German chancellor has scoured old Donald Trump interviews in search of clues regarding the 45th president’s character, including one he did with the men’s magazine in 1990. Among the insights: “I could be happy living in a studio apartment.” Sure.

Mr. Trump is what English teachers call an unreliable narrator, meaning Ms. Merkel is wasting her time reading such interviews. But that’s not to say there aren’t books to help explain the new president and his administration to the chancellor and other foreign leaders — and I don’t mean “The Art of the Deal” or the various biographies written about him.

[…]

And then there is Hannah Arendt’s “Origins of Totalitarianism,” with its clear-eyed analysis of how public cynicism toward flawed political institutions can be transformed by a wily regime into an assault on foundational concepts of truth — the substitution of facts with Kellyanne Conway’s “alternative facts.”

(More here or here.)

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