In response to an earlier post I did about Obama’s habit of lying about easily verifiable events, beliefs and associations in his past, echeccone made the statement, one we’ve often heard, that “every politician lies.” There’s a kind of sweeping truth to that statement, but its very broadness hides the fact that not all lies are created equal. I was just going to leave a responsive comment to echeccone, but it got so long that I decided to use my blogger privilege of elevating my response to its own post. So here is my little riff on why all lies are not created equal, and why Hillary’s and Obama’s lies fall into the worst category.
As any of us who have children or who remember our own childhoods know, lying is an integral part of the human condition. There is no toddler who hasn’t stood before Mom and Dad, staring at the paint on the living room wall, and then glancing down at the paint all over his hands, only to announce without shame, “I didn’t do it.” Said child is always punished, and the punishment comes along with a lengthy explanation about the value of truth and the danger of lies. As a society, we don’t tolerate it well when people deny wrongdoing.
Obama recently gave an interview to Jeff Goldberg of The Atlantic. After this interview many commentators on my side were quick to point out that Obama called Israel a "constant wound… a constant sore…" on our foreign policy. But here is exactly what he said:
JG: Do you think that Israel is a drag on America’s reputation overseas?
BO: No, no, no. But what I think is that this constant wound, that this constant sore, does infect all of our foreign policy. The lack of a resolution to this problem provides an excuse for anti-American militant jihadists to engage in inexcusable actions, and so we have a national-security interest in solving this, and I also believe that Israel has a security interest in solving this because I believe that the status quo is unsustainable. I am absolutely convinced of that, and some of the tensions that might arise between me and some of the more hawkish elements in the Jewish community in the United States might stem from the fact that I’m not going to blindly adhere to whatever the most hawkish position is just because that’s the safest ground politically.
From reading his exact response it is clear that he did not mean that Israel is a "constant sore", but the conflict is. To accuse him of calling Israel a "constant sore" is to use a favorite trick of the Left: taking his words out of context. However, this does not mean that his interview is not full of crap. The Republican Jewish Coalition in its press release called Obama’s statement what it really is, in its proper context: excusing the inexcusable, or, in other words, another of the Left’s favorite things – moral equivalency:
RJC: Obama Excuses the Inexcusable
Contact: Press Secretary Suzanne Kurtz
Monday, May 12, 2008
Washington, D.C. (May 12, 2008 ) — In response to Sen. Barack Obama’s interview in the most recent issue of The Atlantic, the Republican Jewish Coalition released the following statement today:
"Once again, Senator Obama demonstrates his questionable grasp of America’s foreign policy. Senator Obama manages to excuse the inexcusable actions of anti-American militant jihadists by putting the blame for their actions on America’s foreign policy. America stands with Israel because it is one of our strongest allies and the only democracy in the Middle East. Senator Obama naively believes that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will solve the global scourge of radical Islamic extremism. Yet Senator Obama never says how he will rein in Hamas’ daily onslaught on Israel or Iran’s scurrilous condemnations of Israel. Is it any wonder Hamas has endorsed him for president?"
In his interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, Sen. Obama described the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as ‘this constant wound.’ Sen. Obama said ‘that this constant sore, does infect all of [America’s] foreign policy. The lack of a resolution to this problem provides an excuse for anti-American militant jihadists to engage in inexcusable actions.’
I transcribed the most jaw-dropping parts:
REPORTER: It may be hard to believe, but working in this tiny Internet cafe in Gaza City may just be one of Barack Obama’s biggest fans.
Before every U.S. primary, 23-year-old Ibrahim Abu Jayyab gathers 17 of his friends to try and rally support for Obama’s campaign in the U.S.
So why does a young Palestinian living in Gaza spend so much of his time and money on an election thousands of miles away?
ABU JAYYAB: [translated] It all started at the time of the U.S. primaries. After studying Obama’s electoral campaign manifesto, I thought, ‘this is a man that is capable of change inside America.’ As for potential change in the Middle East, he can also do that. I think he can bring peace to the area, or at least this is what we hope.
REPORTER: And the game plan? Ibrahim and his friends call random numbers in the U.S. before every primary to deliver one simple message:
ABU JAYYAB: [in English] Elect Senator Obama. I will change. I will achieve… the justice in the Middle East.
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… of not trying to alleviate poverty in the world, you might want to point to this news item:
Friday , May 09, 2008
By George Russell
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his top lieutenants on Monday are convening the first meeting of the U.N.’s Task Force on the Global Food Crisis. Ban says it will “study the root causes of the crisis,” and propose solutions for “coordinated global action” at a summit of world leaders in June.
Donor listings on WFP’s website show that this year, as in every year since 1999, the U.S. is far and away the biggest aid provider to WFP. Since 2001, U.S. donations to the food agency have averaged more than $1.16 billion annually — or more than five times as much as the next biggest donor, the European Commission.
And while Canada, Australia, Western Europe and Japan have hastened to pony up an additional $260 million in aid since WFP’s latest appeal, the world organization told FOX News, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the international oil cartel, tossed in a grand total of $1.5 million in addition to the $50,000 it had previously donated.
The OPEC total amounts to roughly one minute and 10 seconds worth of the organization’s estimated $674 billion in annual oil revenues in 2007 — revenues that will be vastly exceeded in 2008 with the continuing spiral in world oil prices.
The only other major oil exporter who made the WFP list of 2008 donors was the United Arab Emirates, which kicked in $50,000. UAE oil revenues in 2007 were $63 billion.
By contrast, the poverty-stricken African republic of Burkina Faso is listed as donating more than $600,000, and Bangladesh, perennial home of many of the world’s hungriest people, is listed as donating nearly $5.8 million.
And those people talk about honor?
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They probably all do to some extent. So, whenever I would point out to someone, even someone who agrees with me, some outrageous lie by a leftist politician, the response I often get is: "Yes, but they all lie". I often found myself at a loss for words after that. Well, maybe I don’t have to be in such position any longer. Bookworm has brilliantly explained in her post that
We also are willing to give favored politician some latitude on broken promises. Thus, the question in the voters’ collective mind when a politician breaks an promise is, “Did s/he, at the time s/he made that promise, have any intention of keeping it?” If people believe the answer is “yes,” they’ll listen with some respect to the politician’s excuses for failing to keep that promise. If the answer is “no,” or if it is apparent that no person of reasonable intelligence should have made such a promise in the first place, then voters will be much less forgiving.
And then there are the lies that Hillary and Obama tell, likes that hark back to the toddler years: They get caught doing something bad, and they simply lie about. Hillary confines herself to denials and accusations. In the face of her intransigent denials, when the truth finally emerges, she tends to look awful. Obama is more clever. His first instinct is to deny, and then he starts leaking out the ugly truth. And by leaking it out slowly, he defuses the impact of the fact that, yes, he did engage in wrongdoing or, yes, he did associate (fairly closely) with terrorists or, yes, he did know all along that his preacher is an anti-American racist kind of guy.
The excerpts truly don’t do justice to Bookworm’s article. Go read the whole thing. I will have to remember her arguments the next time someone tells me that all politicians lie.
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