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Works and Days

Lying in the Age of Obama

July 23rd, 2013 - 12:02 am

It’s Not Really the Cover-up

Our current scandals are predicated on lies. No one believed the official White House version that the IRS miscreants were rogue agents from a Cincinnati field office.

No one believes much of the official version of the Benghazi killings — least of all that the violence was prompted by a single video maker in the fashion that Susan Rice assured the nation.

The attorney general of the United States lied about the AP/James Rosen monitoring while under oath before Congress.

James Clapper lied about the NSA scandal. All four travesties are still being sorted out. For now the one commonality is that our officials lied about all of them.

Harry Reid knew nothing about Mitt Romney’s tax returns. But lied about them all the same. It is hard to know whether Joe Biden lies, or simply believes his fantasies. He assured us that President Roosevelt addressed the nation on television after the panic of 1929. Remember in 1987 when he lifted much of his campaign stump speech from British Laborite Neil Kinnock?

Our most treasured icons in the media and literature lie. They tell untruth sometimes in the most serious fashion of claiming the work of others as if it were their own — or simply inventing things out of thin air. Fareed Zakaria plagiarized. So did Maureen Dowd.

Nearly all of Stephen Ambrose’s work, book by book, was characterized by both plagiarism and false statements about archives and interviews. Michael Bellesiles was given the Bancroft Award for a mytho-history. If historians could not initially spot the lie, who else could? Or did they try all that much, given the enticing but mythic thesis that today’s gun nuts, not our hallowed forefathers, dreamed up a nation in arms?

Is There Anyone Left Who Doesn’t Lie?

Why do they lie? Because they can. Or to paraphrase Dirty Harry, they like it. We are a celebrity-and wealth-obsessed society, in which ends, not means, count. Barack Obama got to be president — who now cares how?

That Joe Biden habitually makes things up is the stuff of “that’s just old’ Joe,” not a career-ending felony. Hillary Clinton lied a lot when she was first lady about documents under subpoena. She lied as a candidate about being under fire in the Balkans. And she lied as secretary of State about the train of events in Benghazi.

And? Those lies were either forgiven or forgotten, or contributed to the “complex” persona that now is among the most widely admired in the U.S.

Lying, of course, is a symptom of hubris. The once leftist and long-haired radical Stephen Ambrose finally assumed that he was Lord or Master Stephen Ambrose, voice of an entire generation, accustomed to instant TV access, huge advances, and minute-by-minute adulation on the street.

Lying won him all that, and he knew it. I remember him over three decades ago flat out lying about most of the details he offered on World War II while on The World At War. So to be sure, I watched the young Ambrose lie again last night on that documentary. But no matter: he seemed cool with long hair, a sweater, and an attitude, far more hip than the old plodding Brit historians who were meticulous in their honest recollections.

When caught, a dying Ambrose was unapologetic. He must have reckoned, why say “I’m sorry” to a society that did not care how he had become famous, only that he was? Had Martin Luther King, Jr. told the truth that he stole sizable work from other scholars to write his doctoral thesis, he would never have become Dr. King. Omitting that detail paid dividends.

We claim that no one fools history, especially in the age of the Internet. I grant few do, at least in the long run. Yet in the 21st century, the rub is not getting caught for plagiarism, but doing a cost-benefit-analysis of the downside of now and again agilely lying and plagiarizing, versus the upside of short-cutting to fame and riches.

Doris Kearns Goodwin is a plagiarist. But after a brief sojourn in the Washington doghouse, she is back again on television. Bringing up her untruth would be bad manners.

In Ambrose’s case, it seemed a simple decision. It was “take another multimillion-dollar advance and spend 3,000 hours out of the limelight” — or “take the money and simply cut and paste the work of others over a few hundred hours.” Did he fear that his widely read publishers and editors worried about sales, or the integrity of their branded text?

Bernie Madoff was a liar par excellence, but for most of his life his investors did not question his miraculous luck, given their miraculous returns that came in the mail each month.

It was not entirely money that drove columnists or reporters like Mike Barnicle, Patricia Smith, or Jayson Blair to lie, but the desire for attention, prestige, and being something more than an honest reporter in our empty metrosexual elite urban culture.

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Top Rated Comments   
And so it is, Semp. The sickest and most pathetic liars of all are those who lie to themselves. Semper blowhard!

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Like all good Leninists, Obama and Holder have been trying to provoke open civil strife since day one. They think it will help them entrench their totalitarian system, radicalize the population and ultimately, with a bit of luck, round up and kill lots of white people. I don't know if they realize that, if history is any indicator, there is a better than even chance that they will be unable to control the forces they unleash and that the results may be something quite different than what they hoped for.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You're the one with the Pinocchio nose, son. Obama never cut the deficit in half - he doubled it. Oil did NOT spike under the O's watch - those were already done deals. And the official version of Benghazi was indeed based on the video of the guy in seattle.
Your troll is, in a word, weeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaak.
You really need to try harder.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (138)
All Comments   (138)
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Indeed, Washington and especially the White House administration is full of
liars. Liars on your left. Liars on your right. Liars, liars......everywhere.
And yet we tolerate it, allowing Obama, Holder, the IRS officials and so many
others to lie straight-faced to us every day, with no accountabiity whatsoever.
What are we to do? Perhaps turning off your T.V. would be a good start.
After all, everything you need to know is on the Internet, and you dont have
to listen to their lies.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thank you, VDH. I still remember Mitt Romney's face when Cathy Crowley confronted him, when he pointed out that Obama lied. He had done so in the most gentlemanly way, but could not reconcile her near sociopathic confidence in defending Obama.

Until we put aside our politeness, we will be taken advantage of those who lie and steal, as that is written into their community organizing tactical doctrine, and justified by the academics post-modern pollitics-of-meaning "narrative" that informs their "end justifes the means" fascism.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Finally! Hanson calls Obama a LIAR! You have been tip-toeing around that word for years.

If you and other "conservatives" had been quicker to call a spade a spade(including pathetic Romney), perhaps these demagogues and thugs would not have another four years of power.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Excellent article, telling it how it is.
Except, I don't think that Barnicle's fibs were anything at all comparable to Holders lies.
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
Fibs? Lies?

What an odd way to describe abuse of the Law.

AND The necessary, in a lawful society, trust that the law officers honoured by the population to the job of enforcement respect and regard that law as their responsibility.

Not as their toy to damage, to fundamentally transform as long as there is no force that does or can stop them.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
I look so forward to your articles Dr. Hanson. You are brilliant.
Thank you
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
Demanding accountability occurs only when people WANT the truth. Our government, academia and the corrupt media have provided a toxic atmosphere in which superficial propaganda--the tyranny of slogans--is spewed to the masses.
"Ignorance is Strength"
Q: "How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?"
A: "I don't know...whatever you say."
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
People lie. It's that simple. However, Politicians lie for a living. they call it Spin. What stuns me is the arrogance of their lies.
Watch the News and Commentary programs on cable. The typical left wing guest will be spewing half truths, 'spin' or outright fabrications. If someone calls them on it they will:
1. ignore the criticism and act like they never heard the challenge
2. repeat the lie endlessly hoping to wear the opponent out
3. change the subject or twist it into a different discussion
4. feign outrage and accuse their critic of lying.
Some of the worst at this include members of the Congressional Black Caucus and 'Democrat Poltitical Consultants". Bring up the current lie that Trayvon Martin was 'stalked' by George Zimmerman and watch what happens.
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
Lying by politicians has already done our society great harm. One example;
My parents are willing to pay $200.00 more a month on Medicare and take 100.00 less on their SS-checks. Just like most loyal - truthful - patriotic American citizens they are willing to sacrifice!!
The problem is they know the politicians will not do the right thing with the funds. So like most seniors, my folks hold on tight to their demands for no cuts to their entitlements.
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
Why should they tell the truth. If 51% of the people beleive the lies, and voter them back in, they are asking for more lies. I value trith and did not vote for Obama, but it is obvious that far too much of our country does not value truth.
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ultimately, since we are a self governing country, the responsibility for acceptance or rejection of all this dishonesty, lies with us. And I fear that we are failing the test.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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