Why is this?
It takes more effort, (more words) to say what you will not do, than what you will do. That which someone will not do, not say, not hear, if often found taking precedent over what is reported having done, heard, or said.
Interestingly enough, in watching the documentary, "Decisions That Shook The World", Franklin Roosevelt is seen as having "skirted" the US Constitution, preparing for World War II, while continually campaigning against war. He is seen as having "lied" to the American people, yet, because of the atrocities of the war, as well as victory, commentators justify the actions. Bill Clinton gives commentary and we are left hearing how Roosevelt "knew more" than the American people, the Congress, and the US Constitution, and is justified by victory.
Here are some quotes:
"Breaking the laws, lying to the American people, but did so to protect Western civilization" said one commentator on the documentary.
"I think there is always a temptation for a president, who knows the intricacies of international affairs, to make a private decision, this action needs to be taken, and even though it might be contrary to existing technical law, in my judgement, it's better strategically for the safety and well being and security of my own nation. I think this was the case with Roosevelt." Jimmy Carter
"Presidents have a way of rising to the occasion without regard to their past limitations. But we did so much better, and the world was so much better off because Roosevelt was right." Bill Clinton
The claim by Roosevelt was his promise that he would not send American boys off to die in Europe, while Europeans were killing each other. America had heard its first president, George Washington, warn them not to become entangled in European affairs, as they were known to, for centuries, fighting each other.
In 1940 and 1941, Roosevelt armed one side of the combatants and took provocative actions that led to war. His critics said it was deliberate. Looking beyond the victory, if you were alive in 1941, prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, and you had heard 2 years of presidential promises and vows not to send your sons off to die in Europe, and you heard the following quote, what would you have believed?
Can you separate the outcome from the statements?
He promised, for 2 years, not to send American troops into the European conflict. His critics claimed he was lying and secretly making plans which would lead to the deaths of many Americans.
On this program, his supporters all admit he lied, in one form or another, but it was the "right" thing to do, and it was, as one said, because he saw "all the roads" that lay ahead, and knew how evil Hitler was, and how victory would be obtained.
Finally, here is the quote from Roosevelt to the American people, prior to America's involvement in World War II, which came at a time when he was preparing troops.
The election in November of 1940 changed the tone of his denials. He won his third term on the promise to keep American boys out of the war.
In December of 1940 he said, "
"There will be no bottlenecks in our determination to aid Great Britain. We must be the great arsenal of democracy For us, it is an emergency as serious as war itself.
The lend-lease arming of Britain came into effect and he told the people that this was not
1941 State of the Union address:
"They do not need manpower. But they will need billions of dollars worth of weapons of defense. We cannot and will not tell them that they must surrender merely because of present inability to pay for the weapons which we know they must have.
"We will not send American boys to fight.
We will be the arsenal of democracy.
Note that which comes in the negative.
Summer 1941, he ordered US warships to the Atlantic claiming it is his prerogative as commander in chief. He wanted to protect merchant ships carrying food, supplies...and weapons. The assignments given to the Navy were to escort British ships, violating the Neutrality Act, and "various other laws" he was subject to.
Lesson: always listen to what one tells you in the negative. It is often more important information than what is told in the positive. Those who heard President Roosevelt's statements needed discernment, just as we do today, in order to know the truth.