Politicians are always expected to have “the answer”, 24/7. You ask them a question and they have the answer. Problem is, they too often don’t understand the problem, do not understand the question, have never heard of the incident that you are asking about, or know what you want to hear as the answer and are more then willing to provide it. They need votes they need money — so they have to quickly decide “what do you WANT the answer to be”.
Politicians have always been a bit loose with the facts. I remember years ago when President Reagan was giving a speech about the liberation of the concentration camps and how he felt when his unit entered one of them. It was a very moving speech. Indeed he was in the Army during World War II, but he served in Hollywood making training films. He has never been in combat. There is nothing wrong with that. It may be that his films saved hundreds of soldier’s lives. But he didn’t liberate a concentration camp. He was asked about this “misstatement” by the press. I don’t remember what the answer was, but as far as I know he never repeated it again. Other political leaders have done similar things.
OK, this is our baseline: a politician says something that he knows to not be true. He is caught on it and, while not exactly apologizing, does not use that again. It is harmless anyway.
Here is something worse: lies that get people killed. During the Bush administration we remember the “weapons of mass destruction” lies. It seemed that every nation that has any sort of intelligence service was telling us that the United Nations weapons inspectors (which included a number of Americans) had done their job very well and it was clear that Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction. Further, President Bush and Vice President Chaney were continually telling the American people that Saddam was in on the 9/11 attack on the United States. Again the administration was told many times that Saddam had nothing to do with it.
The administration was called on those lies by the press many times but continued to repeat them, even though it was known that they were lies. Further, the administration acted on it by starting a war. Over 4,000 Americans as well as tens of thousands of Iraqis are dead because of the American people ignoring a criminally dishonest administration.
Do you remember Scott Ritter? He was an American Marine — a registered Republican — who was assigned to the UN weapons team. He was so disgusted with what the US was doing that he started giving lectures about the lies of the administration and even wrote a book about it.
What the Bush administration did was certainly criminal and way beyond Ronald Reagan and his concentration camp story.
Now, we have people like Michelle Bachman. Since she has dropped out of the race, maybe the issue should be dropped — but , if nothing else, she is a good example (or would that be a bad one). She was a candidate who continually misrepresented the founding of the United States, continually misrepresented our founders views, and continually misrepresented our handling of the slavery problem. She was asked about her “unique” view of American history on TV as well as by the press many times. She would provide an answer which generally had nothing to do with the question. Right to the end, she provided a rather unique and rather bazaar view of the history of our country. If what she was saying was really what she learned in high school, that does not say much for her education.
Whatever one thinks of her political views, it saddens me that there are so many Americans who probably had no idea that she did not know what she was talking about and had no interest in learning. She wasn’t trying to cover up anything like Bush, she was simply wrong and refused to correct herself. Do we call her a liar? Since she has been asked many times about the same statements and refused to correct them, yes, I would say that she was knowingly telling a lie and, hence, she is a liar.
Our political leaders are getting of lower and lower quality — and it is our fault! Remember, we ridiculed Al Gore – a man with a Nobel Prize. We ridiculed John Kerry, a war hero with a Silver Star, Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts because some slime group in Texas made disparaging remarks that were clearly lies. We are not smart enough to know when we are being lied to. We have a serious problem. We need to reverse this trend. If we don’t, I think that the Americans in their late 30s and below are in for a bad time as they get older. Our young are already in for a bad time paying for George W. Bush’s mistakes. They will feel this for the rest of their lives — either through higher taxes or inflation that will serve to make our money worthless. We can’t afford ths!
So what is the solution? Well, like so many other problems, it all hinges on our educational system. It doesn’t take rocket science to figure that out. Our schools are graduating people who are functionally illiterate. That is a national disgrace. We need to be teaching more critical thinking. Students should be able to analyze statements whether they came from politicians or The Bible and have the mental tools to determine fact from fiction. We are not doing it. and this country has a huge population who seems to be very interested in making sure that we don’t start.