Quote mining Harry Truman, on confusing people


I think it was Mark Twain who said a lie can get around the world twice before the truth has got its boots on (feel free to correct me on that if you have a good source).

Whoever said it, it was right.

Now, we see that a mined quote can do the same thing as a whole lie.

Harry Truman is the victim this time.

Google turns up more than 27,000 sites with this quote, attributed to Harry Truman:

If you can’t convince them, confuse them.

Now I ask you, Dear Reader, does that sound like old Give-’em-hell Harry, the original straight talker?  Did Harry Truman really urge the use of confusion, when persuasion fails?

If you’re careful and persistent, you can turn up four Google hits for the accurate version, from his dramatic and historic campaign for election in 1948:

I don’t think you are going to be the victims this time of the old Republican doctrine:  “If you can’t convince them, confuse them.”

There you have it.  Harry Truman was not urging the use of confusion.  He was campaigning against it.

Last page of a comic book biography of Harry Truman for the 1948 campaign - Truman Library

Last page of a comic book biography of Harry Truman for the 1948 campaign - Truman Library

One Response to Quote mining Harry Truman, on confusing people

  1. Ms Cornelius says:

    Oh, I hate it when people do this! Speak!

    Like

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