I tend to believe that many elites who promote misinformation don't actually believe what they're saying, but it's rare that you see someone being as candid about it as Dick Armey:
Armey prides himself on his intellect and rationality, but his years in Washington have taught him the political uses of irrationality and even outright fantasy. He told me he does not believe some of the most extreme charges that emerged in the debate over health care reform — for example, that "death panels" will tell elderly people when it's time to die — but he welcomes the energy and passion that such beliefs bring to his side. "You know that expression: The enemy of my enemy is my friend?" he asked. "Are their fears exaggerated? Yeah, probably. But are Obama's promises exaggerated? I may think it's silly, but if people want to believe that," he said, referring to death panels, "it's O.K. with me."
But back in September, Armey appeared to defend the "death panel" claim after President Obama called it "a lie":
Dick Armey, the former House leader who organized the rally, added his own patriot: "Patrick Henry said, 'Give me liberty or give me death.' Well, Barack Obama is trying to make good on that."
Approached by a reporter after the speeches, Armey said that what [South Carolina Rep.] Wilson did [shouting "You lie!" during President Obama's speech to Congress] was no worse than what Obama did in calling the death-panel myth "a lie, plain and simple." Wilson's fault, Armey said, was that "he should not have expressed himself so clearly and openly as he did."
"I mean, give ol' Joe Wilson a break here," Armey said. For an opposition party trying to harness public furor, it was the only option.
The bottom line is clear -- for Armey, the ends (stopping health care reform) justify the means (misleading people about the proposed legislation).