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Public Honesty

Public Honesty November 5, 2013

From Conor Friedersdorf:

Can we at least agree that the American people deserve the truth? That governing ourselves requires getting accurate information from the people who we elect? That their function is to represent us? And that they have no right to lie or mislead?

Opposing mendacity ought to be a no-brainer.

What I see instead is a mainstreaming of the notion that it isn’t a big deal for a political candidate, an elected official, or an appointee to lie or deliberately mislead.

President Obama knew his rhetoric about the Affordable Care Act was misleading, and that many people who bought insurance on the individual market would be forced to get new policies when Obamacare made their policies illegal. The Chicago Tribune’s Clarence Page thinks that Obama knowingly lied, but he isn’t that upset about it, because “that’s one of those political lies, you know.”

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lied to Congress about NSA surveillance while under oath. He was not forced to resign his post, let alone prosecuted, and in some circles more ire has been aimed at the man questioning him.

Dick Cheney remains widely respected among Republicans despite repeatedly deceiving Americans about the threat Saddam Hussein’s Iraq posed to the United States. In interviews, mainstream-media figures continue to give his words the same presumption of truth extended to people who’ve never misled as he did.

Bill Clinton lied under oath and in a finger-wagging statement to the American people. He is nevertheless one of the most trusted political figures in the United States today.

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