Election Ethics Catch 22: The Necessary And Destructive Lie

Unrecorded Custer quote that he probably said: "Don't worry, men! I believe we will win!"

Unrecorded Custer quote that he probably said: “Don’t worry, men! I believe we will win!”

In the last 48 hours, both Joe Biden and Democratic Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz told interviewer on national television, and thus the American public, that the Democrats would hold the Senate in tomorrow’s elections. Literally nobody believes this. News reports abound that Democratic pollsters and consultants don’t believe this. Polls show that Democrats are in for an epic clobbering that will give Republicans control of both Houses of Congress. Is there a chance this won’t come to pass? Sure there is: that why we cast real votes. But there is a big difference between “I hope our party holds the Senate” or “I think if everyone gets out and votes, we can hold the Senate,” and “We will hold the Senate.” The latter means “I honestly believe we will hold the Senate.” In context, it is either a statement of ignorance and delusion, or a lie.

Now with the track record of Biden and Schultz, one can never be certain that they aren’t delusional, but I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they are lying. (They have track records in that area as well.) They are lying because they don’t really believe what they are saying, but feel they have no choice. This is the Underdog’s Dilemma. If anyone is going to care about a contest, neither competitor can concede or admit that it’s a hopeless mismatch. This is especially true for the leaders of  a team facing near certain defeat, and perhaps more true even in politics than in sports. Even when defeat seems inevitable, a candidate or his or her party’s leaders can’t admit it. Why would anyone bother to come out and vote when the object of the vote admits it’s a waste of time? The integrity of the system demands that the myth that anything can happen is kept alive until the final vote is counted. Sometimes, as we all know, the impossible upset happens. Truman defeats Dewey. Eric Cantor, a Republican heavyweight whose polls show him waltzing to re-election, gets beaten in the primary by some guy nobody ever heard of.

This still doesn’t mean the Vice President saying he believes an upset will occur isn’t a lie, though, and therein resides a problem. It is still a lie even though everyone knows he’s lying, and even though he knows everyone knows he’s lying. And what do such obvious lies tell the public?

It tells them that their trusted elected officials and leaders will lie to their faces when they feel it is essential to their interests.

And that means that we can’t trust them at all.

[Update (11/4/14): As of 11 pm, EST, it is clear that the GOP will indeed take control of the Senate…as Joe and Debbie always knew.]

37 thoughts on “Election Ethics Catch 22: The Necessary And Destructive Lie

  1. 1) I actually think the Dems will keep the Senate, but barely.

    2) I don’t understand the mouth-frothing fervor the MSM is placing on this election. If the nation is supposedly gradually bluing across the board as we’ve been so assured of by left-leaning forecasters, why the fuss? Just wait until the next election. Maybe the forecasters have been lying about the data they’ve been analyzing?

    3) If the Repubs get Congress, it’s amusing because Biden has indicated that the White House will be “willing to compromise”. Also known as “the White House will demand legislation as though Democrats held Congress, then will stonewall the Republican Congress while the MSM informs America that it is Republican intransigence again”

    • I believe you actually think that. But here in DC, where Debbie and Joe hang out, I swear, NObody thinks that, especially the way the polling has been tilting in the last few days. The race-baiting and war on women stuff is getting blow-back, and staffers are starting to look for new jobs. I suppose the Democrats could luck out and win all the close ones, but KC lost the Series: I think it’s a sucker bet. More likely is a bigger GOP sweep than the worst Democrat’s nightmare.

      • The whole “war on women” tactic ignores the fact that male voters exist, and, as such, many male voters would actually support a “war on women” on the belief that it translates into a “war for men”.

        • Isn’t this statement akin to saying “black people support democrats so they can stick it to whitey?” Certainly, there are those who would make such a choice for such a hateful reason. But to suggest that such a group would comprise a sizable voting block verges on being misandronistic.

          The entire concept of a ‘war on women’ is a hateful lie towards the republicans, and anyone who mouths the words with any sincerity deserves whatever blowback they get.

          • The answer to your first question is “yes” that statement is akin to saying “black people support democrats so they can stick it to whitey?” But does that make it any less true?

            90% of black Americans voted Obama. 90. That’s insane. I can’t think of a policy pushed by a democratic institution that actually benefitted black people. I can’t think of a modern one pushed by Republicans either, to be fair. So in the absence of policy, I think it’s fair to assume that race was at least a contributing factor. And white people saw that. This is the problem with camp politics. especially when you pick the smaller camp. You court the women, and disenfranchise the men? Good luck getting the male vote. You court black people, and call the white people racist, good luck getting the white vote.

            • And that’s the problem with policies that focus on directly *benefitting* one subset of the general population. Because a policy that directly benefits one subset of the general population means either a Material distribution to them (which has to come from somewhere – read as from someone else) or as a procedural boost or in other terms a “bump to the front of the line” (which has to mean someone else who got in line first is bumped back). Therefore there is no policy that benefits ONE subset without also hindering or taking from another subset.

              And this is the great debate that rages. The Left will tell you that it’s policies are only removing the benefits that one subset has traditionally had to “make it equal”, whereas the Right will tell you, no, you aren’t removing benefits you are giving benefits to a different group, and creating inequality.

            • Black people supported Kerry in 2004 at about 90% too, to be fair. Given the Republican’s admitted “Southern Strategy” in past elections, it is hardly surprising that African-Americans tend to vote in strong numbers for the Democratic party.

                • An 8 point difference? When we are already talking 90%+ anyway? Especially for a dishwater candidate at the time like Kerry? Eh.

                  Obviously African-Americans vote hugely for Democrats, no matter what the color of the candidate.

                  • Imagine a white Obama.

                    No experience save an incomplete ghost term as Senator and some time in the state senate. Prior to that, a career rabble rouser while teaching a topic he appears to know nothing about in practice?

                    Please…if he were white, he’d be the definition of a dishwater candidate.

                    He was elected 75% because he was black, 25% because the Media had frothed up enough Bush-hatred that even though Bush could never again be elected President, any democrat was running against Bush.

                    • I always found the thought that Obama got elected because he was black as laughable. It is not generally considered an attribute that gives one a leg up in presidential electoral history you know, being mostly relegated to the realm of comedies and science-fiction. Judging by the previous 42 presidents, I would say nothing gives one a leg up in being elected President like being a wealthy, white male.

                      I do agree with you that Bush had poisoned the Republican well with his incompetence, to the point that almost any Democrat who survived the primary would have won the election. Obama managed to beat Hillary with a combination of technological savvy, reaching out to young and other non-traditional voters who don’t normally vote in primaries, and coldly calculating the primary schedule and map, and working it to his advantage. Hillary was broadsided by his fundraising prowess, as he was the first presidential candidate to take full advantage of the small dollar donors that the internet made possible.

                    • I don’t know how you or anyone can say that without laughing. If he is not black, Obama is an undistinguished senator with no executive experience and nice delivery from a podium. If he is white, he doesn’t get nominated, he doesn’t get the outrageous media bias pushing his candidacy, he doesn’t beat Hillary. In the election, he doesn’t get the dreamy “a black president will remove the stain of Jim Crow and slavery” vote. He probably wins anyway, because after the crash a dog leash could have beaten McCain. But he certainly doesn’t beat Romney.

                    • “I always found the thought that Obama got elected because he was black as laughable.”

                      Of course you do, because you don’t want to accept the fact that it was key to his rockstar status as being the first, allowing voters to be part of something historical. But of course you consistently blind yourself to much in this world.

                      “It is not generally considered an attribute that gives one a leg up in presidential electoral history you know, being mostly relegated to the realm of comedies and science-fiction.”

                      Rockstar status hasn’t given a leg up to candidates? Read every General that was elected on his battlefield exploits. And have no doubt, his blackness and the “history” of voting for such made him a rockstar (especially the way pop-culture and the media pretty well planted their lips on his buttocks permanently.

                      “Judging by the previous 42 presidents, I would say nothing gives one a leg up in being elected President like being a wealthy, white male.”

                      Judging by your comment, I would say you don’t read much. Depending on what you consider wealthy, review the 1st third of our presidents and many more after them. Then read the smattering of successful generals. Wealth helps because wealthy people are more easily known. But perhaps you should consider “being known” as the key feature of having a leg up. Because your sample is grossly unscientific…if only white males run as a rule, only white males will be elected. Derp. Let’s see, only about 1% of the wealthy white males who run seem to get elected. So far something like 25% of the black males who ran have been elected. Derp. See what happens when we play with numbers irresponsibly, we can make anything happen (especially when the a MYRIAD of factors for why the sample is composed of a certain group…of which “wealth” is a minor factor?)!

                      “I do agree with you that Bush had poisoned the Republican well with his incompetence, to the point that almost any Democrat who survived the primary would have won the election.”

                      This line is what has earned you the scorn I’ve heaped on you so far. You deceitful, dishonest, manipulator. I said no such thing with which you presume to agree. Amend this or piss off to your fantasy land.

                      “Obama managed to beat Hillary with a combination of technological savvy, reaching out to young and other non-traditional voters who don’t normally vote in primaries, and coldly calculating the primary schedule and map, and working it to his advantage. Hillary was broadsided by his fundraising prowess, as he was the first presidential candidate to take full advantage of the small dollar donors that the internet made possible.”


                    • Now, kindly explain how, given his “credentials”, if he were a white man, he would have rocketed to the top?

                      You seem to have missed that bit in your response.

                    • Far more than 4 African-Americans have run for president, here is a complete list:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_African-American_United_States_presidential_and_vice_presidential_candidates

                      So your math is off, even if are just talking about major party candidates.

                      But no, I would contest that being an African-American was a necessary quality to win the party nomination, or even a sufficient quality. Obama was considered a laughable fringe candidate when he first declared, and was treated as an afterthought right up until he announced his fundraising totals. When his totals topped Hillary, by a significant margin, people started paying more attention. And then he started sweeping the early caucuses, caucuses which Hillary had ignored, but which counted every bit as much in the totals as the primaries. After that, it was pretty much all over, and Obama ran with the anti-Bush vibe all the way to the White House.

                      Obama beat Romney, also because Obama was black? I would say Obama had the advantages of incumbency, evangelicals’ wariness of the Mormon Romney, which caused him to have lukewarm support, and Romney’s general air of class superiority to thank for that. I don’t even remember a specific black issue which happened during that election.

                    • Obama also had the advantage of a corrupt media that buried as much as it could, and even then Romney won the non-racist vote (since blacks voted nearly unanimously for color despite a corrupt, incompetent, fiasco-laden first term in which virtually no Obama campaign promises were met.)

                      Everything that has led to the collapse of confidence in the President now was evident then. Color was also the main reason the media criticism was and has been muted since Obama began running. The effect that has had is beyond quantifying, but I have to believe that it has been significant and even decisive. When it is drilled into you over and over that to criticize a black President makes you racist, the black President in question has a clear, and unfair, edge.

              • Calling it “admitted” is a bit of a stretch unless you consider Kevin Phillips and Lee Atwater spokesmen for the republican party as a whole rather than just a pair of republicans who thought appealing to racist motives would work. Beyond the two of them, it’s rather hotly disputed by most republicans, with the evidence for it’s existence amounting to their opponents identification of dog whistles, code words, etc. The problem with deciding you know what your opponents really mean is that you might as well be talking to yourself instead of them, since nothing they say actually matters to you.

                Asserting those two individuals as proof that the party as a whole deliberately courted racism is a strong example of outgroup homogeneity bias. I decline to hold the party as a whole responsible for them, any more than I blame the democrat party as a whole for it’s loony fringe (both comments were made well after they had actual influence in the party). If someone who is against affirmative action because he’s racist teams up with a second person who honestly think it’s unethical, does that second person automatically become unethical by association?

                • Lee Atwater was the chair of the Republican National Committee, the literal spokesman for Republicans everywhere at the time, and political advisor to at least two presidents. Hardly some random Republican. Phillips was Nixon’s advisor, who said:

                  From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don’t need any more than that…but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That’s where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.


                  Atwater: You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger” — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger

                  And of course the Southern Strategy is going to be denied, especially in modern days. The wonder is that that it was admitted to at all in the first place.

                  • Yup. And the current divisive Democrat race-baiting and scare-mongering is the other side of the same coin. The Republican has paid a stiff price for their cynical Southern strategy, and the Democrats should pay a similar price for what they have been doing for the past six years.

                  • There is some legitimacy in treating ranking party officials as representative, but do you really think your party should be stuck with everything Eric Holder and Barack Obama represent on race issues? That being said, the evidence is subject to a great deal of interpretation

                    Phillips stated that the voting rights act would lead to a racist blowback that would help republicans in the long run. He advocated dropping resistance to it for that reason. Do you have evidence that republicans actually took steps to court the racist vote beyond that, or even that they took that step? Consider one of the source links http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/books/phillips-southern.pdf in which he stated: “My argument was this: Your outer Southerners who live in the Ozark and Appalachian mountain ranges and in the Piedmont upcountry — and now in urban-suburban Florida and Texas–have always had different interests than the Negrophobe plantation owners of the Black Belt. This is a less extreme conservative group. It adheres with other Republican constituencies across the country and can be appealed to without fragmenting the coalition. When you are after political converts, start with the less extreme and wait for the extremists to come into line when their alternatives collapse”. Sounds like “don’t bother courting racists, they’ll come along anyways” to me, which would not be the same thing as courting the racist white vote.

                    Atwater noted that being overtly racist was counter productive, and that the party shifted to issues. Focusing on issues worked better at the polls. Some of the support for those issues was racist in nature, but it was still good to move away from racism. Again, no evidence of actively courting racist voters, merely an acknowledgement that they gained some. He also acknowledged that the results of their policies were harder on blacks than whites… but didn’t say they changed desired policies with that in mind. I see no evidence that they changed anything.

                    Neither quote is evidence of a deliberate courting of racist voters by actual candidates. Even interpreting the statements is a bit of a rorshach test. That wikipedia article does NOT present any actual evidence of a southern strategy beyond that. Even the links they have that I checked mostly circle back to those two statements. Republicans benefited from racist blowback against Democrat passed legislation. That’s not the same as saying racism was their reason for opposing those laws.

                    The concept of “dog whistle politics” was a democrat term invented to tar republicans as racist without evidence. I remain unconvinced.

                    “What do you think you know and why do you think you know it?” is always a useful thing to ask yourself, and I did my best to apply it when comparing the evidence for and against republicans actively courting the racist vote. I suggest you reread the evidence to see if there is a plausible alternative interpretation of those quotes. I tried to interpret them as being racist, but couldn’t do so without making assumptions about the party’s preferences that were not themselves in evidence. The same sort of assumptions that make support for voter ID automatically racist because it has a disparate impact. Or that opposition to the portions of the civil rights act involving private transactions is evidence of racism.

                    If you have any solid evidence, I’d like to see it.

    • 4) If repubs do get Congress, please don’t screw the pooch by making Same Sex Marriage opposition a first effort. In fact, if you wanna just let that one go… that’d be great.

        • Effective triage is essential, and it is also essential that a responsible party be able to tell the difference between principles worth drawing a line in the sand for, and principles that just make you impotent if you refuse to compromise. Open borders—yes, fight til the last dog dies. Abortion? If you believe it’s the taking of innocent life, then you have to oppose it (unlike, say self-confessed whores like Kerry, Biden and Mario Cuomo, who claim that they believe in life from conception, but hey, need those votes!). But fighting same sex marriage is like fighting sex without marriage. The culture has spoken, and it’s not going back. If you get estranged from the culture, you can never lead it.

          • Tsk, tsk, and I was so hoping McConnell’s first words as Majority Leader would be “Let’s roll back the brown, stinky tide!”. Just joking. I am still a social conservative, but there’s a right and a wrong way to do social conservativism. The right way starts with getting a message out there that the voters will grab onto, like beating ISIS abroad, decisively, and cleaning up the financial mess at home. When the people feel like this nation is strong militarily and financially again, then we can start saying the nation needs to look to its morals and reverse this permissive culture.

    • 1) oops.

      2) The Civil Cold War (which could be stopped in its tracks if the Media started being the Media again) is only going to get worse

      3) A darker side of me can’t wait to hear what O has to say about all this. I’m sure it will be a delightful screed of justifications.

      4) I’m serious guys, drop the SSM issue. They cool. We cool. Let’s all hang together.

      5) Also, please don’t let someone even whisper impeachment. Please.

      6) Start sending bipartisan bill after bipartisan bill after bipartisan bill straight to the white house, just like the House sent to the late Senate. Let him drown in his own intransigence. Let him be the do-nothing President. Let the MSM continue to humiliate itself in it’s skewed coverage.

  2. I would have thought telling the public that they are actually worried about the upcoming election would help them. Casual supporters are less likely to make the effort and vote if they’re convinced they are going to win anyway.

    • Yes, that would make sense. “I’m worried, frankly. But if all those who support our policies get out and vote, I think we will win.” That would be honest, responsible, and reasonable.

      But this is Debbie and Joe we’re talking about, and a party whose idea of a valid voter appeal is “If Republicans take over, it’s back to the kitchen for women and back picking cotton for blacks! ARRRRGH!!! ARGGGH!”

  3. Well, Republicans have a harder task getting elected than Democrats. Republicans can’t count on the illegal alien vote (up to 4 million votes) or the votes of people on public assistance who rely on Democrats to keep borrowing money to pay them (33% of Americans if you exclude Social Security). When you take the minority vote into account, there aren’t many people left who are able to choose Republican. Republicans need to get over 75% of the remaining vote to win.

    The benefits thing really has me worried. Right now, only 47% of Americans pay federal taxes. That means that the other 53% are paying their part of essential services. In addition, over 33% also are getting additional public assistance, at the expense of the same group. Each person in the ‘taxpayer’ group may have an extra $3000 in loans this year just from the AHA. The ‘taxpayer’ group keeps diminishing as extra benefits are added. This adds more Democratic voters who vote out of self-interest (or whose votes have been purchased), but leads us to a collapse as a country.

    • It’s not as bad as those numbers seem. The vast majority of people who don’t file a tax return are over 65 or under 18. We don’t expect those people to file taxes.

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