November 12, 2006

So I Lied?

"What's the big deal?
There was a campaign going on."

That's how I read the president's testy answer during questioning at his post-election press conference. When asked "why did you tell us just last week that Rumsfeld would stay on?," his rambling reply included this: "the only way to answer that question and to get you on to another question was to give you that answer."

The subtext, and in large part, the theme of the press conference, was basically "hey, everyone knows that campaign messages are a pack of lies, but now the campaign is finished, so just get over it."

This is not new, of course. Aside from the practice of doing one thing and calling it another, which has been a hallmark of the Bush administration, there is also a marked tendency to lie outright, even when the lie will surely be discovered.

Twice the President has slipped surreptitiously out of the country for visits to Iraq. The second, his secret departure to meet with Prime Minister al-Maliki came complete with a false press release. As quoted in the Washington Post, White House communications director Nicolle Wallace said: "Nothing was done with the goal of duping anyone. The purpose of the secrecy was security." Plausible, but still, we were duped.

Lies by omission are one thing, and certainly there are circumstances that may require the president not to 'show all of his cards,' but to issue a statement that is exactly the opposite of the true situation seems a notch or two worse to me. As a matter of fact, I am greatly understating my abhorrence, so as not to undermine my credibity by seeming to be radically liberal. At any rate, you get the drift.

So is this the pragmatism required of realpolitik, or is it rather a pathological reliance on the lie as but one more tool in the political toolkit, fully equal to the practice of telling the truth?

2 comments:

Monte Asbury said...

Bravo - this needs to be said.

serial# said...

thanks. it was mildly cathartic to say it.