CNN's Jake Tapper asked Conway repeatedly about President Donald Trump's attacks on the press and spreading of misinformation. In response, she asked if those falsehoods should matter as much as what Trump does say and do correctly."How about the President's statements that are false?" Tapper asked at one point. "I'm talking about the President of the United States saying things that are not true, demonstrably not true. That is important.""Are they more important than the many things that he says that are true that are making a difference in people's lives?" Conway asked in response.
During the Bush/Cheney era, when the war in Iraq intensified, reporters would routinely ask the White House for explanations for the parts of Iraq descending into chaos. The Bush administration tried to focus on the positives, effectively arguing, "What about the areas in Iraq that aren't on fire?"During Herman Cain's presidential campaign, the Republican was confronted with allegations of sexual harassment, which used to be the sort of thing that hurt candidates for national office. Cain responded at the time by effectively asking, "What about the women I knew who haven't accused me of misconduct?"And yesterday, Kellyanne Conway appeared on CNN where she tried to defend her boss' problems with the truth by effectively arguing, "What about the things Trump says that aren't brazen lies?"
This is not a good argument. Conway, a senior aide in Trump's White House, didn't even try to make the case that the president is always truthful -- there are some claims even she won't make -- instead arguing that some of the things Trump says "are true."By this standard, so long as the president keeps his uncontrollable lying to 49% of his overall rhetoric, we're apparently supposed to think the problem isn't that bad.About a month ago, asked about her boss' penchant for jaw-dropping dishonesty, Conway argued that we shouldn't "go with what's come out of his mouth," but instead it's better to "look at what's in his heart."In other words, Trump may routinely say things that aren't true, but so long as his heart is in the right place, we can adopt a "no harm, no foul" approach to presidential scrutiny.This was, of course, ridiculous -- if we simply can't believe the words that come out of the president's mouth, he can't expect to govern -- but a month later, efforts to rationalize Trump's truth allergy haven't improved.