When politicians are caught out in lies, their supporters often resort to the old cliché: all politicians lie. But that is itself a lie: most don’t. Even among those who do, there are enormous differences in the importance and frequency of the lies. And it is surely now clear that this nation has a far from routine problem in the scale and regularity of President Obama’s lying.
When politicians lie they are usually trying to avoid political damage, or to make themselves look good. Bill Clinton lied (and got himself impeached) to save himself from embarrassment about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Hillary Clinton lied about being under fire in Bosnia to enhance her non-existent foreign affairs profile. Richard Nixon was forced from office because he lied to cover up his involvement in a political dirty trick. John Kerry lied about his Vietnam combat experience to blunt his anti-military reputation. But Barack Obama’s lies are far more corrosive and destructive, because they go the heart of legislation and governance, and so seriously undermine trust in government. His lies generally take a specific form: they attempt to persuade people to vote for him or his policies by categorically assuring them that they need not have the anxieties that they have been expressing. The lies say, essentially: trust me, support what I want, and I promise that what you fear will never happen. But in every case it soon becomes clear either that he knew perfectly well that what the public feared would in fact happen, or that he was giving a firm assurance that he was in no position to give, or that he had no intention of following through on his promise.
The accumulated weight of Obama’s deceit is overwhelming:
* During his campaign for the presidency and since, Obama repeatedly assured us that he would protect Medicare against cuts; but he now presses for passage of bills that include savage cuts in Medicare.
* To obtain passage of his first stimulus bill, Obama assured us that 90% of the jobs created would be in the private sector; but as he well knew, most of them were to be in the public sector.
* Early in the health care debate, Obama assured us that he had not said that he favored a single payer system; but he was on record as having said exactly that.
* Obama gave primary voters a firm assurance that if he became the nominee of the Democratic party he would (unlike Hillary Clinton) abide by the campaign finance limits of public funding; but as soon as he became the party’s nominee, he reneged on that pledge.
* During the presidential campaign Obama criticized the presence of former lobbyists in the Bush administration and solemnly assured us that he would appoint no lobbyists to his administration; but once elected he proceeded to appoint even more lobbyists than his predecessors.
* Obama criticized the size of George Bush’s deficit and promised to stop deficit spending if elected; but he has already quadrupled the size of the deficit he objected to and recklessly continues new federal spending in the trillions.
* When campaigning Obama criticized bills before the congress that were too long for anyone to be able to read and promised to stop that; but the bills he has been backing throughout his first year are infinitely longer (2000+ pages) than the ones he criticized.
* Candidate Obama promised an end to the corruption of earmarks and pork, but in the bills he has supported this year there have been more and bigger earmarks than ever before.
* Candidate Obama promised us that CIA personnel involved in the interrogation of terrorists would not be prosecuted; but his administration is now doing exactly that.
* Obama assured a joint session of Congress that the health bill he supported (pre-Stupak) would not provide public funding for abortions; but bitter resistance on the part of House Democrats to inclusion of language to that effect soon proved that it did.
* Candidate Obama promised that he would make sure that there was always enough time for the public to read legislation before it was enacted; but he has done exactly the opposite, repeatedly pressing for even faster passage of even longer bills.
* Candidate Obama met fears that he would be a tax and spend liberal by promising, emphatically and repeatedly, that those earning under $200,000 would see no increase in their taxes of any kind; but he now urges passage of a healthcare bill that breaks that pledge in many different ways, and his unrestrained increase in federal spending makes more tax increases inevitable.
* Candidate Obama promised bipartisanship and an end to partisan bickering; but in a display of especially ruthless partisanship his allies have shut Republicans out of all key meetings on his health care initiative, with the unprecedented result that domestic legislation of historic importance garnered not a single Republican vote in the Senate.
* Candidate Obama criticized his opponent’s plan to tax employer paid healthcare benefits, and promised he would not tax them; but the bill he now backs will do just that.
* Obama had promised that he would not sign a healthcare bill that would add one dime to the federal deficit; but the bill he now backs adds trillions in new federal spending, offset only by new sources of revenue that are both uncertain and more properly seen as offsetting the already existing deficit.
* Obama coerced congress into passing his stimulus bill by promising that if it were passed unemployment could go no higher then 8%; but unemployment is now at 10%, and he could not possibly have had good reason to exclude that possibility.
* Obama promised that his cap and trade legislation will create jobs; but its massive tax increases will certainly hobble the economy and destroy jobs, while green jobs in significant numbers can at best be hoped for, but never promised.
* Obama has repeatedly assured the American people that if they like their current health plan they can keep it; but the House bill which he supported created huge incentives for employers to drop their coverage and shift their members to a public option.
* Obama has just as often assured the public that under his health plan everyone will be able to keep their current doctor; but many are certain to lose their doctors when ObamaCare’s large cuts in Medicare funding induce more doctors to withdraw from Medicare coverage, as they also would were employers to transfer patients to a public option to save money.
* Obama assured a joint session of Congress that his health plan would not fund illegal aliens; but his allies had been busy voting down amendments to that effect. (This was the point of Joe Wilson’s outburst.)
* Obama claimed that Caterpillar’s CEO had told him that Caterpillar would begin hiring again as a result of the stimulus bill; but that individual immediately announced that he had said no such thing, and that Caterpillar would in fact be laying off more workers.
* Candidate Obama promised that Guantanamo would be closed by January 1, 2010; but it is still open.
* Candidate Obama promised that his administration (unlike his predecessor’s) would be so transparent that TV cameras (C-Span) would be there for key deliberations; but an unprecedented level of secrecy prevails as the final stages of Obamacare are negotiated behind closed doors and kept so secret that even the Senate majority whip admitted that he had no idea what was going on. Requests for Obama to honor the promise of C-Span cameras are being ignored.
* To gain traction for his attempt to return a would-be socialist dictator in Honduras to power, Obama claimed that he had been overthrown in an illegal coup; but the congressional research service pointed out correctly that ex-President Zelaya had been removed for constitutionally sufficient cause by legal and constitutional means.
* Obama claims that he wants a public option only to increase choice and competition; but the House bill would clearly reduce choice both by squeezing unsubsidized private health plans out of the market, and by setting rigid conditions on acceptable plans that would narrow available options.
* Candidate Obama claimed that violent radical Bill Ayers was just another guy in his neighborhood; but the record shows that the two had worked closely together.
* Obama assured us that his stimulus bill would create or save a million jobs; but he was claiming as fact what could never have been more than a wild (and highly improbable) guess, and his more recent attempts to justify that guess have been fraudulent.
* Obama assured us that his health plan would never ration care, or “pull the plug” on grandma; but the legislation he backs sets up panels to make crucial decisions on when to withhold care, and it makes such deep cuts in Medicare that rationing is inevitable.
* Obama now assures us that health insurance premiums will not go up if ObamaCare becomes law, insisting indignantly that people who say this have not read the bill; but the legislation forces insurers to cover preexisting conditions, which will compel them to raise premiums substantially.
This is an extraordinary record of serial mendacity. One or two instances might charitably be regarded as rash promises later regretted, or as the wishful thinking of someone who had not thought through the implications of what he was saying. But when it happens again and again—and my 30 instances are by no means exhaustive—only one judgment seems possible: this is the record of a habitual, shameless liar, a man who will say anything to get what he wants. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me, goes the old saying. But scores of times? How shameful is that for our society when this disgraceful record is never the subject of a reproachful editorial in the New York Times, the Washington Post, or CBS news? Richard Nixon was removed from office, and Bill Clinton impeached for a single lie. Who could look at Obama’s record without concluding that his lying is in a completely different league to theirs?
President Obama evidently believes that he can solve any problem with a speech. But he really does not care whether what he says is true or not, nor does he feel any responsibility to honor the assurances and promises he makes. As a result, this nation is now in a position where it cannot believe a word that he says, and that amounts to an unprecedented crisis of confidence in the Presidency. Democratic government will atrophy if we allow lying on this scale to count as the business as usual of politics. When will the press and the Congress hold him accountable?