The dark side of pragmatism is not obvious to most people. Like so many terms its application and meaning in the private sector can alter greatly when applied in the public realm. But changing reality while being numb to principles can easily lead to ends justifying the means. And that can easily lead to lying.
Jonathan Gruber felt justified in lying about the ACA in order to get it passed. Ben Rhodes recently confessed to playing the compliant media as fools in the Iran deal. When you think you alone are on the right side of history, that you alone occupy the moral high ground, and that you alone possess the competence to save the world you will probably not let a little thing like the truth impede the progress that you alone can render.
Pragmatism is the operative word in Progressivism. Our election is between two Progressives.
from Jonah Goldberg in National Review,Why Both Clintons Are Such Unapologetic Liars
The amazing thing about Hillary and Bill Clinton is that they are united by no central idea, no governing philosophy that doesn’t — upon close inspection — boil down to the idea that they should be in charge.
Yes, I know. That’s not what they would say. They would argue that with the right experts in charge, the government can do wonderful things to help people. But what the government should do is constantly changing, according to both of them. Bill once declared, “The Era of Big Government is over.” He didn’t mean it. He certainly didn’t want it to be true. He just said it because that’s what he does: He says what he needs to say. I don’t approvingly quote Jesse Jackson all that often (though I do find myself saying, “Keep hope alive,” a lot these days), but I think he had it right when he said Bill had no core beliefs, he was all appetite.
Hillary, in her own way, strikes me as even worse in this regard. Can you name a single substantial policy that she hasn’t flipped on — or wouldn’t change — if it were in her political self-interest? Gay marriage? Free trade? Illegal immigration?
Clinton’s defenders argue that her changing policy approaches are just signs of her “pragmatism.” And don’t worry, I won’t rant about pragmatism again, either. But liberal pragmatism begins and ends from a single first principle: Liberals must be in power to decide what is “pragmatic.” And when conservatives are in charge, the only form of acceptable pragmatism is . . . compromising with liberals.
That is why both Clintons are such unapologetic liars. Pragmatism bills itself as being beyond ideology and “labels.” Well, if you don’t feel bound to any objective ideological or even ontological criteria — labels, after all, are the words we use to describe reality — why not lie? Why not wax philosophic about the meaning of “is”? If attaining and wielding power is your only benchmark, the ethical imperative of telling the truth is no imperative at all. It’s just another false ideological construct.