Politicians lie. Politics rewards and attracts those who lie well, and it pressures otherwise honest people to lie.
Politicians of both parties lie. Politicians across the ideological spectrum lie. Some lie more than others. In many political races, one candidate is much more a liar than the other. In some debates one side leans harder on lies than the other side.
But this election year, liberals have rolled out a truly audacious argument: That the Republicans are far and away less rooted in fact than Democrats — that Democrats are, in general, more honest.
Liberal Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein made this claim most directly last week:
Quite simply, the Romney campaign isn’t adhering to the minimum standards required for a real policy conversation….
We’ve been conditioned to want to give both sides relatively equal praise and blame, and the fact of the matter is, I would like to give both sides relatively equal praise and blame. I’d personally feel better if our coverage didn’t look so lopsided. But first the campaigns have to be relatively equal. So far in this campaign, you can look fair, or you can be fair, but you can’t be both.
Klein is trying to build what he would call a “permission structure” to allow liberals and the mainstream media to be imbalanced. I don’t think Klein is doing so nefariously – I imagine he actually believes that the Democrats are somehow more honest and more grounded in facts than Republicans are.
But I think anyone ought to be on guard against concluding that the side whose policies you favor is the side that plays the most fair. There’s too much confirmation bias going on there.
Klein and media critics like Jay Rosen make good points when they say that the media often forces itself to be balanced when balance is undeserved. But this broad thesis – that Republicans are less honest than Democrats – is ungrounded in reality. This week in Charlotte proves it.
In short, the Democratic Party’s 2012 campaign is built on a foundation of deception – just as most politics at the highest levels is deeply dishonest.
The thematic attacks on Romney and Ryan at this convention are clearly—and maybe intentionally—deceptive.
- Dems again and again claimed Ryan tried to “redefine rape” by backing a bill that differentiated between “forcible rape” and other rapes, but forcible rape is in the U.S. criminal code, and has been there for at least 20 years – put there by Democrats.
- A bunch of Democrats attacked Mitt Romney for saying “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” But, of course, Obama did let Detroit go bankrupt, and “Romney’s Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” op-ed laid out a plan of action mostly the same as what Obama did.
- On birth control mandates, the Democrats’ line is that Republicans want to “end access to birth control” or let bosses “control” access to birth control. This is an utterly misleading way to describe Republican opposition to a mandate that employers cover 100% of employees’ birth control.
And it’s not only their speeches, it’s their personnel.
Last night’s star was Bill Clinton, whose law license was suspended for deliberately misleading a grand jury. Remember, he lied again and again to the American public about his sexual affairs. Now he is their favorite speaker.
The party’s chairwoman is Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who has as strained a relationship with the truth as any politician in America – to put it kindly. She gave a tour-de-force of fabrication this week when she (1) claimed Israel’s ambassador said something he didn’t. When caught, she (2) denied she said it, and accused the Examiner’s Phil Klein of “deliberately misquote[ing]” her. When Phil produced the audio showing he had quoted her verbatim, she still didn’t back down.
Also, check out her thoroughly misleading, and in fact not even remotely plausible efforts to spin away the discord on her party’s platform.
Joe Biden, the Vice President, is a proven plagiarist who regularly pads his own resume in ways at least as misleading as stating false marathon times. Two things Biden has said about his academic career that aren’t true:
- That he got a full academic scholarship to law school (he got a half-scholarship based on need).
- He claimed he “graduated with three degrees from undergraduate school…” (He got one degree, even if a dual-major [but not a triple-major]).
Finally there is President Obama himself. Covering him for 3.5 years, I’ve concluded you can’t trust what he says, given his record of misleading and word-parsing.
For me, the most telling one was on lobbyists: After hiring more than 40 lobbyists to policymaking jobs, he said “we’ve excluded lobbyists from policymaking jobs,” in his State of the Unions address. His White House didn’t retract the claim when pressed, but instead pointed out that some lobbyists who applied for jobs weren’t hired.
And I reported this one in my Monday column:
“I had a chance to meet a young man named Robert Baroz,” the President said in October 2011, speaking of a public-school teacher. “In the last few years, he’s received three pink slips….”
A reasonable person would assume (1) Obama met Baroz and (2) Baroz was fired. But Obama never met Baroz – he merely “had a chance to meet” him. Baroz also was never fired — even though he received pink slips, he was able to hang onto his job.
This is the President’s modus operandi. I could list many more deceptions that have come out of Obama’s mouth, small and large, but this post is long enough already – and I think it’s more than clear enough.
Democrats are a dishonest party. Republicans are dishonest too. This is politics, after all.