October 25, 2012
Barrage of Lies
(Note: I'm writing this the day before the final Obama-Romney debate, the one on foreign policy. I have no idea what will be said in that debate, or how it will be played in the media.)
Let's be very clear about something. The word "lie" has a definite meaning, despite the loose way it is used in politics.
Most false statements are not lies. If you declare something to be true, and it turns out not to be true, the most likely explanation is that you believed it to be true, but you were simply wrong.
For it to be a lie, you have to know the statement you're making is false, or that you're leaving out significant information that would change the meaning of the story.
Case 1: WMDs in Iraq
For instance, George W. Bush's declaration that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction was plausibly based on Saddam's own behavior (refusing inspections, blustering that made no sense if he had no weapons to back it up), and, more importantly, on the firm declarations of the intelligence community.
When those weapons whose existence was the official argument for United Nations action against Iraq were not found, the Left accused Bush of lying, culminating in the widespread slogan, "Bush Lied, People Died."
Not a lie at all. In fact, the bumper sticker "Bush lied, people died" is a lie. To accuse someone of lying when you know he did not lie is, in fact, a lie.
Case 2: Iraq's Alleged Involvement with 9/11
As President Bush originally made the case for active war against Iraq domestically, his justification was not Iraq's alleged possession of WMDs.
What he and his administration charged was that Saddam was an active supporter of terrorism. That this statement was true was obvious at the time (for instance, he was paying a bounty to the families of suicide bombers in other countries).
And after the defeat of Iraq's government, documents were uncovered that verified not only Saddam's active support of the training and financing of various terrorist groups, including some linked to al Qaeda, but also his plans to involve Iraq's embassies abroad in future terrorist activities.
However, it was not true and the Bush administration never alleged that Iraq was involved in the 9/11 attacks before they happened.
Yet the Left, and its media mouthpieces, constantly charged the Bush administration with deliberately misleading the American people to believe that Iraq was involved with 9/11.
However, I watched closely at the time, and have not seen, either then or since, a shred of evidence of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld or any official administration spokesman declaring that Iraq was involved in the planning of the 9/11 attacks.
If such evidence had existed, you can be sure it would have been trumpeted in every news medium. Instead, what the media were able to come up with was this chain of reasoning:
1. Many Americans believe that Iraq was involved in planning 9/11.
2. This must be the result of the Bush administration constantly calling Iraq a terrorist state.
3. Because this belief is widespread, it must have been the deliberate intention of the administration.
But anyone can see that this chain of reasoning breaks down at every point. If the American people have a false belief, yet the administration never said the false thing that they believe, but instead made a very different and completely accurate claim, it simply does not follow that the false belief was deliberately created.
One might as easily make the claim that it was the news media who did a very bad job of communicating with the American people. After all, a presidential administration talks to the American people rarely, and then filtered through the media; the media, however, talk to the American people constantly and directly.
If the people have jumped to false conclusions, who is at fault?
Nevertheless, a lot of people with the wit to know better, plus Vice President Biden, constantly made the claim that "Bush-Cheney" lied to the American people by stating that Iraq was causally connected to the 9/11 attacks. (Biden even lied by claiming that he voted against the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, when in fact he voted for both. But he still gets away with calling other people liars.)
Case 3: Attacks in Cairo and Benghazi
These history lessons in lying and deception are very much to the point right now. The Obama campaign and its supporters in the media accuse Mitt Romney of lying about practically everything, including his own programs.
When your opponent deliberately uses misleading "estimates" and assumptions to make your program look ridiculously expensive, you don't have to accept their spin. Denying that your program will cut a fictional five trillion dollars is not a lie it's a correction. But how was it covered?
More important, though, was when Romney was accused of lying about Obama's actions immediately after the attacks on our embassy in Cairo and our consulate in Benghazi, in which our ambassador to Libya and three others were murdered.
In the second presidential debate, we had the ludicrous spectacle of Obama claiming that he had linked the attacks with "terror" on the very first day, and the "moderator" certifying that his false claim was true.
The truth, which we all lived through, was that for two weeks following the attacks, the entire administration, including Obama himself, declared that the attacks were spontaneous demonstrations that got out of hand, provoked by an insulting video produced by an "Israeli living in America" (as the filmmaker claimed; he later turned out to be a Coptic Christian).
As late as Sept. 25, long after the administration had the facts, Obama made a speech before the UN in which he explicitly blamed the YouTube video for the attacks.
Obama did say the word "terror" in a statement the day after the attacks, but he absolutely did not say that terrorists planned or carried out the attacks. The whole thrust of his remarks was to declare that the attacks were non-political criminal events provoked by the video.
Obama continued to follow the line first declared by the US Embassy in Cairo on Sept. 11: "The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions."
Of course this is just silly the Left deliberately offends Christians and Jews all the time, and nobody in the administration cares. The only reason anyone cares about offending Muslims is that in several Muslim countries, such offenses are used as an excuse to burn things and murder people.
When, the next day, Mitt Romney criticized this apologetic, blame-America response to the murder of our ambassador and the attack on our embassy and consulate, he became the story. The media supported the Democrats in a pile-on that accused Romney of breaking a tradition of non-partisan unity in the face of a foreign attack.
Never mind that the very same Democrats, again with the support of the media, savaged President Bush constantly during his entire administration for actions far less reprehensible than that absurd apology. By comparison, Romney's criticism of Obama was a love pat. But there is no pretense of even-handedness in the media today....continued on page 2