Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Art Woodstone's "sketchy" tutorial on lying politicians
The photo of Karl Rove is used because he is probably the Republican most adept at lying for political advantage.
A Sketchy Tutorial on the Subject of Lying Politicians
Not thirty minutes ago, I heard Bob McDonnell, Virginia's Republican governor, tell a whopper on MSNBC.
When queried about Paul Ryan's plan to privatize Medicare, McDonnell snickered [yes, he did] and wondered aloud how any Democrat could possibly object when Democratic Senator Ron Wyden co-sponsored Ryan's proposed legislative changes [in case you've forgotten, Ryan wants "vouchers" and privatization to replace current Medicare; the Ryan plan would boost the cost to seniors about $6,400 a year].
It's a talking-point fabrication McDonnell borrowed from Romney. It was a lie when "Slytherin" said it originally and nothing made it truer simply because McDonnell smiled as he repeated it. And you can expect the lie to be repeated thousands of times between now and November by an army of new Republicans.
Wyden went ballistic:
"Governor Romney is talking nonsense. Bipartisanship requires that you not make up the facts. I did not 'co-lead a piece of legislation.' I wrote a policy paper on options for Medicare. Several months after the paper came out I spoke and voted against the Medicare provisions in the Ryan budget. Governor Romney needs to learn you don't protect seniors by making things up, and his comments sure won't help promote real bipartisanship."
The problem for Wyden is how many times can he go ballistic before he exhausts himself.
That politicians lie ain't nothin' new; they do it all the time. Even Democrats lie. Remember when LBJ fabricated a North Vietnamese attack on an American vessel in the Gulf of Tonkin so he would have an excuse to widen the war?
Mostly though, you can distinguish lying Democrats from lying Republicans because Democrats tend most often to do their lying in the confines of protected space.
I remember Bella Abzug [the Manhattan Congresswoman and one of my clients] tell me how much she loved and respected a female Democrat from upstate New York. Less than a week later her upstate colleague stole away one of her aides [me], and [possibly] forgetting what she had said to me originally, described her one-time buddy and now rival, thusly: 'That lying, no good bitch, I wouldn't trust her as far as you can throw me.'
And Bella was a big woman.
Frankly, I don't know which was the greater lie, the first or the second of her remarks. It doesn't matter. What does matter in this spotty retelling of the history of disinformation is that Abzug told her lies in private.
On the other hand [sad to say, there's always another hand in political reporting], the Republicans make the most outrageously dishonest claims in public. And here may be the key: unethical savages that they have become, they seem to know instinctively that the media will print and air any stuff and nonsense, and should there ever be a correction it will happen long after the lie has gripped the public mind.
Nixon lied all the time. What's that old gag--you know the guy's lying whenever he opens his mouth to speak?
I remember several whoppers, but the one I like to relate happened three days after his father's death in 1959. Nixon was campaigning in upper New York State. He first spoke the following words in Buffalo: 'My father used to say Buffalo was the most beautiful city in America. My father loved Buffalo.'
In subsequent visits the same day to Rochester and other cities in New York, the only word that changed in his set campaign speech was the name of the town he was in at that moment.
Nixon's father had never been east of the Mississippi, a fact easily checked if reporters cared enough to check. I later confirmed that the old man had never even been east of the Rockies.
The media published virtually all of the lies Nixon told throughout his career [yet most of them were transparent and easily disproved]. Nixon was, in my opinion, the first great Republican liear; he had a five of six year head start on Joe McCarthy.
There was a time, actually, when I could tell myself that Republicans like Ike, Prescott Bush from Connecticut and even Goldwater were men of honesty and honor. And I was right, but that was the old Republican Party.
Taking a page from Nixon and McCarthy, the new Republican Party emerged sometime in the mid-sixties after Goldwater's weask campaign pretty much destroyed the virility of the old GOP. The lies became conscienceless and public.
It was as if the Party's hacks had perfected a method for gaming the system, which relied on the short memories of the voting public and the easy complicity of the media.
So, keep this in mind: the second you see Romney open his mouth you can be sure he's lying. Don't blame him entirely; being a man of limited originality without the charm or oratorical gifts of a natural politician, he's merely following a fifty-year-old pattern of Republican deceit.
P.S. I did have one Democratic client who was congenitally incapable of lying, even in private. He lost the race to become Chief Judge of his state by an astonishing quarter of a million votes to an ambulance chaser who had endless cash of his own to spend on advertising and the unlimited capacity to boast of things he had never accomplished.