In 1880, Mark Twain wrote an essay On the Decay of the Art of Lying.
The art may have decayed, but the habit flourishes at the White House.
Lies come in at least three flavors
Lies told to be kind: We all tell polite lies. Suppose a friend asks, “what do you think of this beautiful necktie my dear mother gave me just before she died?” Also suppose that the tie is extremely ugly. To be untruthfully kind, one might say, “it’s simply beautiful.” Suppose that one is blind and therefore has no idea whether the necktie is beautiful or ugly. One might say in a no less kindly way, “It must be beautiful and you must be very proud of her tastes.” Or, in either circumstance, one might distract, again in a kindly fashion, with a non response: “Dear me! I’m so sorry. When did she pass away?”
Lies told to be unkind: Suppose that one wants to damage a rival who has no significant blemishes, for political or non-political reasons. A lie can serve the purpose. “It’s so sad that John’s high reputation for veracity is unfounded. Just the other day, he claimed to have been at the top of his class at Harvard when, in reality, he was very close to the bottom.”
Lies told for gain: A lie such as this might he told by a used car salesman: “This car is a cream puff! It was driven only once each week by a very careful old lady to attend church.” The salesman would probably have no idea who drove the car when or where, how often or how far — because he never asked the “old lady” and because he never tried to determine when or whether the odometer broke. Political lies are often these are often similar.
And that brings us to President Obama.
ABC News recently broadcast a clip comparing President Obama to various TV pitchmen.
President Obama’s repeated ObamaCare assertions for political gain that “if you like your health care policy [doctor, medical care provider, etc.] you can keep it” are in a different category than the huckstering shown in the video clip; they are far worse than merely undignified. They were parts of His principal message on ObamaCare and were lies either because He knew that they were untrue when He spoke or because He made direct categorical statements without acknowledging that He did not know whether they were true or false. The lies appear either to have been intentional on His part or intentional on the part of His Administration. If the latter, they are no more acceptable and still reveal an inherently dishonest presidency. In an excellent Washington Post Op Ed, Marc Thiessen explained
The Wall Street Journal broke the news this weekend that, even as President Obama was telling the American people they could keep their health plans, “some White House policy advisors objected to the breadth of Mr. Obama’s ‘keep your plan’ promise. They were overruled by political aides.”
It’s not easy to get a lie into a presidential speech. Every draft address is circulated to the White House senior staff and key Cabinet officials in something called the “staffing process.” Every line is reviewed by dozens of senior officials, who offer comments and factual corrections. During this process, it turns out, some of Obama’s policy advisers objected to the “you can keep your plan” pledge, pointing out that it was untrue. But it stayed in the speech. That does not happen by accident. It requires a willful intent to deceive.
In the Bush White House, we speechwriters would often come up with what we thought were great turns of phrase to help the president explain his policies. But we also had a strict fact-checking process, where every iteration of every proposed presidential utterance was scrubbed to ensure it was both accurate and defensible. If the fact-checkers told us a line was inaccurate, we would either kill it or find another way to make the point accurately. I cannot imagine a scenario in which the fact-checkers or White House policy advisers would tell us that something in a draft speech was factually incorrect and that guidance would be ignored or overruled by the president’s political advisers.
This whole episode is a window into a fundamentally dishonest presidency. And the story gets worse. After Obama began telling Americans they could keep their plans, White House aides discussed using media interviews “to explain the nuances of the succinct line in his stump speeches.” But they decided not to do so, because “officials worried . . . that delving into details such as the small number of people who might lose insurance could be confusing and would clutter the president’s message.”
Yes, no need to “clutter” the president’s message with confusing details — like the fact that millions of Americans being told by the president that they could keep their plans were being knowingly misled.
Here’s a good video summary:
Overruled by His political aides? That is perhaps even more damning than if President Obama knew the facts and the consequences of His signature legislation and willfully lied. Presumably, His aides work for Him and, after His nearly five years in office, they have sufficient understandings of His wants and needs to oblige. If they “made Him do it,” a culture of mendacity infests everything which emanates from the White House — whether from President Obama Himself or from deep within the bowels of the building.
Although it now seems clear, probably even to President Obama, that He lied, grossly, His aides remain ensconced at the White House doing His bidding. President Obama has yet to acknowledge that He lied. Instead, He has lied about his lies.
Giving yet another speech when there’s a website and a failing signature policy to fix, President Barack Obama changed, ever so slightly, his central Obamacare promise. The crowd of human props, party funders, entourage and hangers-on lapped up the president’s new line, which goes something like this.
“Now, if you have or had one of these plans before the Affordable Care Act came into law and you really liked that plan, what we said was you can keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.” [Emphasis added.]
Everything after the “if” is new. His original line, which he spoke about two dozen times over the course of the past few years, was “If you like your healthcare, you can keep your healthcare. Period.”
No “if” and none of the stuff after that was in the original. The original was a lie — the administration knew that it wasn’t true three years ago but it stayed in Obama’s speeches anyway. Now Obama is lying about that. He’s added some fine print to what was a clear declaration.
The New York Times has merely acknowledged that He “misspoke,” as though he had been speaking extemporaneously without giving significant thought to what He was saying or had got a flea in His eye while reading from His teleprompter. Every one of the twenty-seven times He told the same lie? The immediately linked Power Line post suggests, tongue in cheek, that The Onion (a satirical site) must have hacked into the Times’ Editorial Board.
At least I think it was the Onion. Someone, anyway, got access to the Times Editorial Board computers and turned out this parody editorial on Obamacare:
Congressional Republicans have stoked consumer fears and confusion with charges that the health care reform law is causing insurers to cancel existing policies and will force many people to pay substantially higher premiums next year for coverage they don’t want. That, they say, violates President Obama’s pledge that if you like the insurance you have, you can keep it.
Mr. Obama clearly misspoke when he said that.
HaHaHaHaHa! President Obama misspoke 27 times! And curiously enough, when he misspoke it was the centerpiece of his argument for his supposedly signature legislative achievement! Even the Times editorial board wouldn’t try to sell that one; it’s got to be the Onion.
Perhaps President Obama deemed himself to be in good company, which made his lies acceptable to He of Non-existent Standards.
But what difference does any of it make now?
ObamaCare is, of course, not the only context in which President Obama has lied, egregiously. Offhand, I cannot recall any contentious matter of political substance as to which He has been scrupulously truthful. He continued to take the position that the Benghazi outrage had been caused by a little-watched video long after it had become clear to His people that it had been a well planed terrorist assault in which al Qaeda associates were intimately involved.
The Obama administration has been reluctant to publicly draw a direct connection to al Qaeda and the assault on September 11, 2012 that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. It took nearly two weeks for the White House to acknowledge the attacks were terrorism.
Remember the Benghazi “talking points?” True, “the White House“ made no changes in them; the White House is just a handsome and historic building. They were made by President Obama’s People in the White House, State Department and elsewhere. As I observed in an article titled Trust– but Verify Governmental Statements and Actions, the Benghazi outrage has been
one more in a long series of governmental lies, too often reported by the “legitimate media” as the unvarnished truth when told and then, as little pieces of truth escape, reported as having been told initially due to something resembling the fog of war. That’s sometimes a good excuse — fog often does make it difficult to distinguish fact from fiction. Often however, the fog is in the minds of those who find it difficult to distinguish what is true from what what is politically convenient; they frequently select the latter as their talking points.
Benghazi is now being discussed with varying degrees of attention and animation in efforts to learn — or alternately further to conceal or at least to diminish in significance — what happened when and why. It has belatedly become publicly apparent that the Obama Administration made multiple efforts, long effective, to conceal and to spin the facts. An ABC News report, published on May 10th, is titled Benghazi Talking Points Underwent 12 Revisions, Scrubbed of Terror Reference. Persuasive, it relies heavily on versions of the talking points provided here in timeline form as well as White House e-mails. BBC World News has cited the ABC report favorably, as the first real news indicating that there was, in fact, a cover up. According to the BBC commentator,
This is the first hard evidence that the state department did ask for changes to the CIA’s original assessment.
Specifically, they wanted references to previous warnings deleted and this sentence removed: “We do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa’ida participated in the attack.”
There’s little doubt in my mind that this will haunt Hillary Clinton if she decides to run for president, unless she executes some pretty fancy footwork.
See also this article by Ron Radosh at PJ Media.
As noted in my linked article,
On May 5th, President Obama delivered an address to the graduating class at Ohio State University. The following was included in his remarks.
Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems; some of these same voices also doing their best to gum up the works. They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because what they suggest is that our brave and creative and unique experiment in self-rule is somehow just a sham with which we can’t be trusted. (Emphasis added.)
As many have already noted, “tyranny is always lurking just around the corner” along with its handmaidens — lies, disinformation and cover ups.
And tyranny is lurking, sometimes just around the corner and sometime in plain sight. Even when it lurks in plain sight, many are too blind to see it and/or too detached from reality to care. Blindness and indifference provide very fertile ground for tyranny to prosper, as does the habit of lying at the Obama White House.
WASHINGTON — The Affordable Care Act is the biggest new health care program in decades, but the Obama administration has ruled that neither the federal insurance exchange nor the federal subsidies paid to insurance companies on behalf of low-income people are “federal health care programs.” [Emphasis added.]
The surprise decision, disclosed last week, exempts subsidized health insurance from a law that bans rebates, kickbacks, bribes and certain other financial arrangements in federal health programs, stripping law enforcement of a powerful tool used to fight fraud in other health care programs, like Medicare.
Well, gosh darn! Kickbacks and bribes could never be part of President Obama’s signature legislation. Perish the thought. Therefore, there is no need for that silly old law to apply.
The main purpose of the anti-kickback law, as described by federal courts in scores of Medicare cases, is to protect patients and taxpayers against the undue influence of money on medical decisions.
President Obama loves all of His people
to death and would never, ever (well, hardly ever) do anything that might even possibly hurt them. Of course not. Surely, His minions are similarly loving.
Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, disclosed her interpretation of the law in a letter to Representative Jim McDermott, Democrat of Washington, who had asked her views. She did not explain the legal rationale for her decision, which followed a spirited debate within the administration. [Emphasis added.]
How could she explain the inexplicable?
. . . .
Ms. Sebelius said the Health and Human Services Department “does not consider” the subsidies to be federal health care programs. She reached the same conclusion with respect to federal and state exchanges, built with federal money, and with respect to “federally funded consumer assistance programs,” including the counselors, known as navigators, who help people shop for insurance and enroll in coverage through the exchanges. [Emphasis added.]
Please read the entire thing. It gets even more interesting. Of course, nobody in the Obama Administration would even consider the possibility of maybe thinking about doing anything unlawful, unethical or just plain stupid. There is no need to think about that sort of thing; it just comes as naturally as does lying.
Here’s more commentary on how and why fraud can become endemic under ObamaCare.