This week, former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama will be at conferences lecturing about democracy and apparently warning against the spread of disinformation.
Yes, it's a real "[checks notes]" meme moment. The Bush administration launched a post-9/11 war that had almost no relationship with the terrorists responsible, based on bad intelligence and misleading the public about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Obama's signature domestic accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act, was dependent on him selling Americans a lie that they would be able to keep the health insurance they had.
Bush will be interviewing Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (via live feed) as part of "The Struggle for Freedom Conference" in Texas on Wednesday. Obama will be speaking alongside former Philippines Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday in New York City as part of an Obama Foundation panel that discusses topics like "tackling disinformation and protecting democracy; pluralism, identity and democracy; and inclusive capitalism."
It makes for an easy round of "whataboutism," and to be fair, they both deserve it. Neither of these men is speaking on the issue from a position of credibility.
The lies that spun out of these two administrations weren't just simple errors: They had a purpose. The lies they presented were intended to convince Americans to support their political goals, both of which involved broad government interventions abroad and at home. And so, when these men talk about fighting "disinformation," it's very easy to assume that they are referring to messages that may cause the public to distrust government decisions, despite whether these messages are accurate or not.