“If you don’t stop lying about me, I’ll start telling the truth about you” – sourced to various politicians.
It is said that Mr. Trump lies almost every time he speaks, but they all lie.
Hillary: “I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base. LINK HERE
Trump: “I happened to be in Scotland, at Turnberry, cutting a ribbon, when Brexit happened,” he said. “And we had a vast amount of press there and I said – this was the day before, you probably remember – ‘Brexit is going to happen’ and I was scorned in the press for making that prediction, I was scorned. Lo and behold the following day it happened and the odds weren’t looking good for me when I made that statement because as you remember everyone thought it wasn’t going to happen.” (In reality, Trump arrived in Scotland the day after the EU referendum, June 24, 2016, when the result was already clear.) LINK HERE
I am not sure these examples show anything other than somewhat innocuous lying—embarrassing when uncovered, but, really what difference do they make?
Mark Twain wrote this about lying, “No fact is more firmly established than that lying is a necessity of our circumstances–the deduction that it is then a Virtue goes without saying.” [Take the time to read his On The Decay Of The Art Of Lying—it is informative, and like most of Twain’s life observations, truly funny. ]LINK HERE
So, why do we allow politicians to lie like thieves with impunity? I think it is partly do to the subjectivity of their words and because when speaking, they are often citing statistics— “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics,” said Disraeli.
We hear things like “Republicans want us to have unsafe water to drink,” based on their desire to decrease the planned increase in spending on the EPA. Even when citing Mr. Trump’s budget “proposal,” in which he calls for a 31% decrease in spending, it is not probable that Republicans want us to drink dirty water. Nor is it reasonable to think that is their position; they, in my way of opinion, have a different, albeit unworkable idea that somehow everything will be alright, that decreasing government spending is always a good thing, that the free-market will balance all things for the good. So is the phrase a lie or not?
What about the serious lies politicians tell?
In the real world, there are consequences to lying—if one is caught, that is. Lying to obtain financial advantage is a basis of fraud. Lying to a government official in their capacity as that employee is a crime. Lying on an employment application may get one fired or make it dang near impossible to sue the employer should that come up.
Perhaps there should be an oath sworn by people when they first run for office wherein they agree, under penalty of perjury to never lie in their official capacity. Good idea, right?
CNN did a piece on Presidential lying, about why simply being President often requires them to lie. Examples from their article:
While preparing the country for World War II, Franklin Roosevelt told Americans in 1940 that “your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.”
President John F. Kennedy declared in 1961 that “I have previously stated, and I repeat now, that the United States plans no military intervention in Cuba.” All the while, he was planning an invasion of Cuba.
Ronald Reagan told Americans in 1986, “We did not, I repeat, did not trade weapons or anything else [to Iran] for hostages, nor will we,” four months before admitting that the U.S. had actually done what he had denied.
Even Honest Abe lied about whether he was negotiating with the South to end the war. He lied about where he stood on slavery. He told the American public and political allies that he didn’t believe in political equality for slaves because he didn’t want to get too far ahead of public opinion. . .He had to be devious with the electorate. . .He played slave-holders against abolitionists. He had to lie to get people to follow him. Lincoln is a great Machiavellian.” http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/24/politics/presidents-lie/index.html
Their article tries to distinguish between forgivable and unforgivable Presidential lies, but it seems a little contrived: forgivable lies are those that serve to better the people of the country. Where does “I am not a crook” or “I did not have sex with that woman,” fall? What “serves the public good” is a nebulous concept.
When Trump promised to release his tax returns was that a lie, or did he really, at that moment believe he would only to re-think it later?
When he said, “I guess it was the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan,” did he believe that? Lying would seem to require knowledge that one is not telling the truth.
How would a law requiring truth-telling be enforced given all these examples? And yet, Clinton was impeached for lying under oath; I am not so sure he technically did not tell the truth in the Paula Jones deposition from a legal standpoint. A decent place to start looking at this case is here: http://www.huppi.com/kangaroo/L-clintonperjury.html)
When I sold women’s shoes, I was often asked, “do these shoes make my feet look big?” Sometimes, I would say, with that slight southern accent I used to have, “No, Ma’am, the shoes have nothing to do with it.” Mostly, they laughed and I made the sale, then had to listen to my boss that if I ever said that to the wrong person, there would be a mess to clean up.” I must have had a keen sense to this, because so far as I remember, no one ever got made at me—at least not mad enough to say anything—and knew when to just say, as I did most of the time, “No, they make your feet look wonderful,”—even when they looked like downhill skis.
In the end, I suppose, politicians are people and the finding of absolute truth in much of what they say is too difficult, and the examples of black/white issues that are substantive are too few and far between.
If anyone has an idea of how to draft legislation banning lies by politicians, with the requisite definition of what is and is not a prosecutable offence, please let me know.