First definitions. What's a lie?
1. A false statement deliberately presented as being true; a falsehood.
2. Something meant to deceive or give a wrong impression.
v. lied, ly·ing (lng), lies
1. To present false information with the intention of deceiving.
2. To convey a false image or impression: Appearances often lie.
For Lynn Vavreck, politics is a high-stakes game. She writes:
... in the 2000 Democratic nominating contest, when Al Gore claimed he “took the initiative in creating the Internet” was he lying? Or did his comment seem more like a lie after it was misreported that he said he “invented” the Internet? Or how about this case: was it a lie in January of 1998 when President Clinton forcefully denied he had “sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky,” adding that he “never told anybody to lie, not a single time; never”? And in 2003, when Colin Powell reported to the United Nations that U.S. intelligence showed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, was he lying?See that these examples are different: The first is a public appearance, Gore was being hyperbolic. The second is a more serious instance: lying under oath. In the third example, Powell (then secretary of state under G. W. Bush) was deceived by the C.I.A. Vavreck makes an interesting point:
Why do Americans tolerate politicians who lie? Because most political lies are exaggerations or contextual lies. They are lies of omission, or put the way a politician might, they are economies of truth.For Sisela Bok, lying has become a norm of politics. Bok makes a good point. If your opponent lies and gets away with it, there is little you can do but to lie as well. And the public? This is why people accept that politicians are liars.
But most of the time, the truth is hard to discern amid the barrage of accusations and counter-accusations about fraud, the broken promises, and the outright lies that fly fast and loose among campaigns. The worst outcome would be for everyone to give up -- for voters to conclude that all politicians lie and for politicians to lie when they think that they will get away with doing so, hoping that enough people will be misled and that others won’t hold it against them.How about evading instead of "lying"?
More disturbingly, politicians who dodged the question but did so in a smooth, practiced fashion were rated more favorably than those who answered the question but in a less fluid fashion: politicians are better off answering the wrong question well than the right question poorly. (Not all dodges go unnoticed – politicians who answered a question about the war on terrorism by riffing on health care were both caught, and punished.)George Lakoff is a linguist. For him, it's a two way street. Voters align themselves with their politician of choice and believe what they say because they believe those things. See it as candidate "X" lying to its base (but for them is not a lie).
What do you think. Should we accept the fact that politics is this game of partisanship and just turn the other way and let the game go on? Is it just a matter of getting used to it? But a lie is a lie: There were no WMD in Iraq.
Politics can be seen as a theater of different factions pushing their versions of governance. In America this is generally Republican vs. Democrat every four years. But aside from the theater, this is a very serious issue. These versions end up affecting our daily lives and our future. Shouldn't we have a commitment to truth?
I am closing this post next Friday at 11pm.