#382 – Dick Bernard: Lying our way to mediocrity, and perhaps worse….

In two years and 381 blog posts, I can think of only one other posting in which I emphasized a single piece of writing I had seen elsewhere.
Today is the second.
I’d highly recommend a reading of this lengthy item, “The fascinating story of how shameless right-wing lies came to rule our politics” by Rick Perlstein in Mother Jones magazine. (There are endless self-righteous and always anonymous comments on this article, as with most articles. I never waste much time reading these arguments back and forth.)
OK, you’ve already tuned out because you’re conservative and you align with the right wing, and you’ve heard Mother Jones magazine is lefty or worse, and you think you know how biased I must be…. (On the final point, you don’t know, but no matter.)
Bill Clinton’s famous 1998 lie is in this article. Democrats don’t get a pass*.
But as Perlstein points out, for sheer volume and gall, there is no contest between the right-wing disinformation machine and the left.
To speak truth in politics in this age is to be a loser, and the more lies you can convincingly tell, the better. This goes for high profile clergy, as well as everyone. You’re taught to lie with gravitas. “The ends justify the means.”
My favorite political lie, recently, is not in the article. Recently former vice-president Dick Cheney was quoted famously, about Paul Ryan’s crusade in Congress. The May 26 quote can be read and seen here, plus an earlier statement on the same general topic by the exact same person, taking precisely the opposite public position.
The simple response to this business of political lying, which I have heard with my own ears, is “they all lie”, which gives the person making this claim the permission to lazily vote for the individual he/she prefers (or not vote at all), without getting into the fine points of whether their candidate has any grasp of the truth, or even cares.
It is rationalized that in politics, the truth really doesn’t matter: “they all lie”.
But it definitely does matter.
As most all of us learned when we were kids, what goes around comes around.
What happens to us individually, when we lie and finally get caught, is no different than what will happen to our entire society, if we don’t start paying attention to facts versus fiction*.
We the people are the government of the United States, not the Legislators we elect (and who we seem to loathe as a group as they do battle against each other.
We have asked for, indeed demanded, what we detest.
We get exactly what we deserve.
* As I was writing this, Rep. Anthony Weiner of NY (Dem) admitted, after days of denial, that he indeed did the infamous Twitter and several others in past years. He becomes only the most recent in a long list of politicians caught in personal lying about sex – his Twitter caper will dominate “news” for the next few days…to be followed by someone else. (Re Weiner, I didn’t think he did the deed – it was too stupid. But, he did do it, and so be it. His voters will decide his fate next year.) I differentiate between what he did, and what this column is about: official lying for the purpose of moving political agendas. Politics being politics, what Weiner did, personally, will be mixed into the political agenda and beget more lies, by extending and implicating…. Sad but true.
Also, yesterday, it was revealed that the staff of Sarah Palin had attempted to revise the history of Paul Revere’s ride on Wikipedia, to cover for Palin’s historical gaffe about his action. “History” is fair game for liars too….

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