I wonder at what point President Obama decided that he could just lie with impunity, and that most Americans wouldn’t care. We should care, you know. There is no reason that I can see why anyone here or abroad should trust the President or believe him or anything he says.
I take no satisfaction or joy in writing this. It is a terrible development for everyone, and I wish it were not true, just as many of the President’s supporters will deny that it’s true. It is true nonetheless.
We know that as the health care law was being examined by the Supreme Court, this lawyer and supposed legal scholar told the public that it was unprecedented for the Court to overturn major legislation on Constitutional grounds. It just wasn’t true. We know that he told, quite intentionally, repeated whoppers during the post-Sandy Hook gun control push, and is likely to tell them again. We know that he quite purposefully kept blaming an anti-Muslim video for the massacre at Benghazi while knowing that wasn’t the case, and then denied that his “CIA talking points” about the incident were misleading, when they were, and intentionally so. There are many other examples: the verdict is inescapable. He lies. The President assumes, I suppose, that the automatic support he will get from his African-American claque based solely on his race—I call that racial bias, by the way—provides some support for this depressing habit. The rest, perhaps, arises from the cynical calculation that another 30 per cent or so of the public is barely awake and will let it slip by, that an additional 30% will adopt the “everybody does it” attitude that it doesn’t matter if the President is a liar, because they all are, and that the media, which has had his back from the beginning, will continue to enable him. So far, he’s been right.
It has come to this, then. The leader of the United States lies with impunity, and yet he continues to believe, with some justification, that his speeches can persuade the public and the world when he needs support for his policies. I have to admit, I do not understand it at all. One explanation, a disturbing one, may be that our culture is being slowly persuaded that lying, even by our leaders, is nothing to get upset about. Here is Dana Milbank, a reliably left Washington Post columnist, complaining about the Republican focus on Benghazi:
“It’s a pity that those seeking answers on Benghazi can’t focus on what really matters: Could anything have been done to prevent the deaths of the four men lost in Benghazi that night? And what can be done to make sure such a thing never happens again? Instead, the Benghazi scandal-seekers are determined to link Hillary Clinton to the inadequate security at the diplomatic outpost (ignoring the obvious fact that a secretary of state doesn’t make security decisions for individual facilities) and the bogus “talking points” presented by then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice in the days after the attack (as though more accurate talking points might have retroactively saved lives).”
You see, it doesn’t “really matter” to Milbank, and presumably to us, that the talking points Rice dutifully recited to all the networks on behalf of the Obama Administration were “bogus,” because they didn’t get anyone killed. That they constituted intentional, deliberate deceptions imposed on the media and the American people in the middle of a Presidential campaign because the President and his advisers didn’t want American going to the polls in November knowing about a fatal incident that cast legitimate doubts on the Administration’s competence and claims of having “decimated” Al Quida—that doesn’t matter at all….presumably because it helped get Obama re-elected. In short, the columnist is saying, and maybe even believes, that a President lying to the American people is a trivial matter. Funny—journalists in Johnson’s and Nixon’s day thought it was the equivalent of a crime.* The President knows that journalists like Milbank will apply this kind of Teflon; maybe that’s why he keeps lying, and with increasing frequency and recklessness.
There has to be some explanation…doesn’t there?
Just a week after Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler–whose body seems to be rejecting the Kool-Aid, belatedly—gave Obama’s Secretary of State a Four Pinocchio rating for his repeated claim that he opposed Bush’s Iraq invasion as a U.S. Senator (one of the characteristics of shameless liars is that they don’t mind other shameless liars), he gave the President the same “pants on fire” verdict for this statement, in a speech to the Business Roundtable:
“You have never seen in the history of the United States the debt ceiling or the threat of not raising the debt being used to extort a president or a governing party and trying to force issues that have nothing to do with the budget and nothing to do with the debt.”
As Kessler shows in exquisite detail, this isn’t true. It isn’t close to true. It is spectacularly, ahistorically, unequivocally false.
So why does the President keep lying? One can’t plausibly argue that he just “made a mistake.” Obama’s an educated man, and he knows that his statements are accorded the presumption that he is citing facts, not just wishful assumptions he pulls out of the air. If he says something “never happened,” and everyone knows he has hoards of researchers ready with verification at the snap of his fingers, the President knows that his audience will assume that he has verified it, because only a fool makes up things to say in public that can be easily proven wrong. A fool, or someone who is confident that no one will call him on it.
Perhaps he does this because of fatuous and offensive articles like this one, in Politico, in which the writer lists “what’s right with Obama” despite everything going wrong. The list…
• His personality
• His normality
• His enemies
• His party
• His luck
I cannot fathom how anyone can believe any or all of these can outweigh the simple fact that he lies to us. But because so many apparently do believe it, the lies just keep on coming, and will, until we demand more respect and honesty from our all of our leaders, not just this one.
* I believe the tolerance of intentional Presidential lies is one more corrupting legacy of Bill Clinton, but I am trying to cut down on my contemptuous Clinton references. Think of this footnote as the equivalent of an E-cig.
Facts: Washington Post