The Father of Lies
Vol: 132 Issue: 27 Thursday, September 27, 2012
There was once a time in America where honesty was prized above all other characteristics. Liberals will deny that it is so, but the fact is that for much of America and for much of its history, a handshake was as reliable as a written contract.
The old saying about “a man being as good as his word” is a uniquely American saying. And as we’ve noted many times, old sayings only become old sayings if they are true.
To label a man a liar was to destroy his reputation in a single stroke. It was such a stinging insult of such devastating power that it often resulted in a duel to the death. It was especially deadly to a politician.
In May, 1777, Lachlan McIntosh called Button Gwinnet, a “scoundrel and a lying rascal.” Gwinnet challenged McIntosh to a duel in which McIntosh was wounded and Gwinnet was killed. In 1804 Vice President Aaron Burr shot and killed former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton after a similar, defining insult.
When Charles Dickinson called Andrew Jackson a “coward and an equivocator ” (liar) in 1805, Jackson became the only US President to ever kill a man in a duel.
Dickinson was known as one of the best shots in Kentucky. Jackson was known as “Old Hickory” for his toughness.
Jackson absorbed the first round, which broke two of his ribs and lodged two inches from his heart. Then, clutching his chest, he raised his weapon, took careful aim, and shot Dickinson to death.
The Free Dictionary Online uses the phrase “nobody calls me a liar” to illustrate what it means to be “called out.”
For a politician, being caught in a lie was the kiss of death as recently as 1974 when Richard Nixon was forced to resign from the Presidency. The Iran-Contra Affair almost brought down what is now universally recognized as one of the greatest presidencies in American history.
President Reagan refused to lie to the public about it, taking to the public airwaves on March 4, 1987 where he took full responsibility for any actions that he was unaware of, and admitting that “what began as a strategic opening to Iran deteriorated, in its implementation, into trading arms for hostages”.
Something happened to America during the Monica Lewinsky Scandal; a page was turned in America’s moral code with the introduction of the mantra, “everybody lies about sex.” It is probably true — that is probably why he wasn’t removed from office at his impeachment.
We are all sinners, and it seems logical to me that if a person’s moral compass was already far enough off center for him to do something that would require lying about sex, then it is axiomatic that it’s far enough off center to go the extra mile, so to speak.
A person that finds no moral conflict with cheating would be equally comfortable lying about it, and so, somehow, “everybody lies about sex” resonated. Clinton was convicted of lying to an Arkansas judge, and by the time he left the White House, what would have been a certain transition from Clinton to Al Gore turned into Election 2000.
During the recount, desperation gave way to overt dissembling; who can forget the image of Al Gore intoning, “Every vote should count” as his lawyers argued in court to suppress the military vote because it broke for his opponent?
Gore initially conceded, then took it back, then denied he’d conceded, and for 78 days, reality was suspended while Team Gore openly sought to steal the election, regardless of what damage it did to the country.
The Left immediately projected its values onto George W Bush, accusing him of lying in every public pronouncement. And for the life of me, from then until now, and with the benefit of hindsight, I’ve yet to find a single clear example of when he did.
(Indeed, I offer this challenge. If anyone can come up with a single, provable example of when George Bush knowingly lied to the public, please email me and I will publicly acknowledge I was wrong.)
After years of accusing Bush of lies nobody could pin down, America came within inches of electing John Kerry, phony Vietnam War “hero” and serial cheater and liar John Edwards, to the White House.
The only thing that saved us in 2004 was that slim majority of Americans who were still sensitive to the truth.
In 2008, America threw caution to the wind, falling in love with a new self-image of itself — that of having finally breached the racial dividing wall.
The electorate willingly closed its eyes to what it could not deny about Candidate Obama’s casual relationship with the truth or his troubling relationships and went instead with “hope” without asking anything about “change”.
Nobody really believed that Obama attended Jeremiah Wright’s church for twenty years without knowing Wright’s views on racial politics. Nobody vetted the candidate’s background because they were afraid of what they might find.
Now, to quote Reverend Wright, America’s chickens really are coming home to roost.
“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” (John 8:44)
By 2007, the majority seemingly shifted, giving Nancy Pelosi control of the House of Representatives and Harry Reid control of the Senate. The number of times that Reid and Pelosi have been caught openly lying to the public needs no further elaboration.
“All this was inspired by the principle–which is quite true within itself–that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation.” (Adolph Hitler on “The Big Lie”)
Last weekend, when asked directly by “60 Minutes” about the lies his campaign has been making up against his opposition, Obama casually looked into the camera and admitted it. I set off the salient code phrases in italics, (translation to follow):
“Do we see sometimes us going overboard in our campaign– mistakes that are made, or areas where there’s no doubt that somebody could dispute how we are presenting things? That happens in politics. The truth of the matter is that most of the time we’re having a vigorous debate about a vision for the country, and there’s a lot at stake in this election. So is it going to be sharp sometimes? Absolutely.”
And now, for the translation:
“Do we sometimes lie? Is it sometimes so obvious as to be indisputable? Yes. Politicians lie and I’m no different. The truth is that when we aren’t lying, we’re telling the truth, but we have to lie and cheat because there’s a lot a stake in this election. So will I continue to lie about my opponent if I think it will advantage me? Absolutely.”
There was a fascinating piece in the Los Angeles Times attempting to draw a moral equivalency between the lies told by the Obama campaign and those alleged against the Romney campaign. I say “alleged” because the media has two definitions for lying.
The LA Times even unwittingly contrasted two ads that prove it.
A Democrat lies when it is impossible to interpret it any other way, such as when Team Obama ran an ad saying that the death of a steel worker’s wife was the direct result of Mitt Romney’s involvement with Bain Capital.
An example of a Republican lying is when he makes a public policy statement that the liberals disagree with, such as when Mitt Romney said an Obama decision to violate the Work for Welfare law would “gut welfare as we know it”.
Then the Times goes on to congratulate the Democrats for being as willing to lie as the Republicans!
Both ads were labeled as untrue by fact-checking groups. At week’s end, both campaigns appeared unabashed. Many Democrats, in fact, have reveled in the evidence that their side could be as “tough” as the Republicans, who in past campaigns were perceived by Democrats as being more willing to stretch the truth to make a political point.
“We’re in a new phase: Fact-checking alone is not enough. The campaigns seem able to override it,” said New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen, who has studied how journalists attempt to referee campaigns.
Indeed, with the ad about the cancer death, the Democratic super PAC, Priorities USA Action, appeared to have gone the fact-checkers one better — exploiting attention to the ad’s veracity to get free air time for a spot that has not appeared anywhere as a paid commercial. The ad has been replayed extensively on television news segments that have debated it and has been viewed more than half a million times on YouTube. The largest number of views have come from five states — California and four election battlegrounds, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia, according to Priorities.
Then, comes the kicker. The LATimes explains the secret behind the tactic:
”The Democratic super PAC has raised considerably less money than its Republican counterpart, making the free publicity particularly valuable.”
If you tell a lie so egregious, so incredible, so unbelievable, the lie itself will generate free publicity that will help to spread the lie! Get ready for the next quote:
“Asked whether the prospect of controversy leading to free publicity was part of the calculation, Paul Begala, senior advisor to Priorities, did not hesitate. “Absolutely,” he said. “We’re provocateurs.”
The lies are not only deliberate, they are calculated. Worst of all, what will it mean for America if it works?
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” (1 Timothy 4:1-2)
Suddenly, I have the overwhelming urge to go and have a shower. And perhaps to weep a little for what once was.