When did honesty become optional?
By Frank Salvato
Throughout time politicians and their handlers have been prone to omitting unpleasant facts or manipulating them so as to mold issues to their advantage. This is the concept behind "spin"; a form of propagandizing that crafts an "alternative" interpretation of an issue, organization, person, event or campaign in order to sway the public's opinion "for" or "against" said issue, organization, person, event or campaign. In fact, the "art of spin" has created an entirely separate category of political animal; the "spin doctor," many of whom are regularly featured on the many mainstream media news outlets disguised as "political strategists." But somewhere along the line, the art of employing wit, reason, personality and persuasive rhetoric in order to achieve a political ends gave way to the blatant lie, and never before has it been as evident as it is today.
This political malady is not exclusive to one side of the aisle or the other. Neither is it exclusive to the elected class. In fact, some of the most egregious abusers of truth and honesty come in the form of agendized media operatives. It is an across-the-board problem that comes with the intellectual infections that are the "inside-the-beltway mentality" and the special interest mentality, both of which are shared by the elected class, the media who cover them and the special interest groups who try to sway them both.
In the Republican Primary Elections we have seen a good example of spin, and viciously so. In one of the most negative political cycles in recent times, we have witnessed each of the nominees unleash barrage after barrage of negative attacks ads against whomever they deem the threat of the day. Ron Paul and Rick Santorum, although not as blatant about their approval of such tactics, are just as guilty of partaking in the art of spin; in stretching the truth to achieve an ideological goal, as Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney. It can be argued that Mr. Romney is the biggest abuser, but I am sure that Romney supporters will spin that to their advantage.
But the Republican field's negative campaigning and spinning of fellow candidates' stances and records pales in comparison to the outright dishonesty that is coming from the Progressive Left, the media who supports them and the Obama Administration. Ironically, an unspoken penchant for decorum and civility kept the word "liar" – and the accusation of lying – from being employed just one short decade ago. Chronicling the genesis of this sad and reprehensible turn of events, one can point to the Progressive Left's disingenuous assault of President George W. Bush with, "Bush Lied, Soldiers Died" as the moment it became acceptable to level the charge of "liar" against an elected official, never mind a sitting President. Although many may have thought it – and perhaps even known it – we, as a people, refrained from actually saying it.
Today, it doesn't even garner an eyebrow-raise when the likes of US Rep. Maxine Waters (P-CA) calls Speaker of the House John Boehner or House Majority Leader Eric Cantor "liars." Recently, the radically Progressive lawmaker went so far as to call the whole of the House Republican contingent "demons." So much for the civility speech that President Obama gave after the shooting of US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona.
Three recent events serve as perfect examples – three articles of evidence, if you will – of how the Progressive Left has "fundamentally transformed" the art of spin to a campaign of dishonesty, and, again, simply for the retention of political power.
The first item comes in the form of a declaration by the Obama White House that Catholic Charities USA stood with Mr. Obama and Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in support of their plan to mandate that the insurance companies of religious institutions provide free "contraception coverage" for all employees.
It is interesting to note how the Obama White House cherry-picked and abbreviated a quote by Catholic Charities USA to fit their narrative. Catholic Charities USA had issued a statement saying it welcomed, "the administration's attempt to meet the concerns of the religious community" and that they were "hopeful that this is a step in the right direction." That's a far cry from an endorsement or even convoluted support.
Out of this same subject came another assault against honesty, this time at the hand of habitual spinner and a Progressive operative herculean in her ability to weave fiction out of any given issue, Rachel Maddow.
On her MSNBC program, speaking on the Obamacare contraception mandate issue, Maddow said:
There is so much wrong with this statement one can hardly find a place to begin. So, we are thankful that the Media Research Center captured one of Ms. Maddow's own MSNBC colleagues, Lawrence O'Donnell, debunking the blatant lie foisted on the American public by Ms. Maddow and her production team:
Refreshing to have an MSNBCer calling one of their own out on the carpet.
But perhaps the quintessential example of governmental and political dishonesty came in the form of a statement Obama Chief of Staff Jack Lew made during a taping of CNN's State of the Union, defending the blatant and grotesquely partisan obstructionism of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid where passing a budget is concerned:
Of course, there is one major thing wrong with that statement: it doesn't take 60 votes to pass a budget in the US Senate.
As The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler points out in The Fact Checker:
It needs to be noted here – for those who don't know his prior positions in federal government – that Mr. Lew was not only the most recent budget director for President Obama; he was also the budget director for former President Bill Clinton. That said, it is impossible for him not to have known that it does not take sixty votes to pass a budget resolution in the US Senate.
In fact, Mr. Lew made the statement repeatedly that day, pointing to a concerted effort to move that political talking point into the mainstream so as to manipulate the truth and, thereby, manipulating the public's perception of the issue. The bottom line here is that the President of the United States' Chief of Staff went on several national media outlets professing an out-and-out lie in order to confuse and manipulate the American people; solely for political gain.
Joseph de Maistre, a key figure of the Counter-Enlightenment and defender of hierarchical societies and monarchical States, in opining against a democratic form of government, whether a Direct Democracy of a Constitutional Republic, such is the United States, is quoted as saying: "Every country has the government it deserves." Given the pathetic performance of the American Electorate in not only turning out the vote but in our constitutional obligation of governmental oversight, I'd say Monsieur de Maistre was spot on.
We talk a lot today about how we must act to save our country. To be sure, this action is incredibly necessary. We the People have allowed government to fall into the hands of nefarious men and women; partisans and opportunists; men and women more loyal to their political parties than to their constituents. We have an opportunity to right this wrong by enlightening ourselves to the many truths of the matters, by educating ourselves on the philosophies of the Charters of Freedom and then engaging in the process of electoral decision making and properly discharging our constitutional duties to governmental oversight.
We can also go a long way to "getting back to good" by making honesty and truthfulness an election year issue. If we accept dishonesty from our elected officials and do nothing to right that wrong, then Monsieur de Maistre was right, we have the government we deserve.
Frank Salvato is the Executive Director for BasicsProject.org a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) research and education initiative focusing on Constitutional Literacy and the threats of Islamic jihadism and Progressive neo-Marxism. His writing has been recognized by the US House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention. His organization, BasicsProject.org, partnered in producing the original national symposium series addressing the root causes of radical Islamist terrorism. He is a member of the International Analyst Network and has been a featured guest on al Jazeera's Listening Post and on Russia Today. He also serves as the managing editor for The New Media Journal. Mr. Salvato has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor on FOX News Channel, and was featured in the documentary, "Ezekiel and the MidEast 'Piece' Process: Israel's Neighbor States." He is a regular guest on talk radio including on The Captain's America Radio Show, nationally syndicated by the Genesis and Phoenix Broadcasting Networks, catering to the US Armed Forces around the world. Mr. Salvato is also heard weekly on The Roth Show with Dr. Laurie Roth syndicated nationally on the IRN-USA Radio Network. Mr. Salvato has been interviewed on Radio Belgrade One. His opinion-editorials have been published by The American Enterprise Institute, The Washington Times, Accuracy in Media, Human Events, and are syndicated nationally. He is a featured political writer for EducationNews.org, BigGovernment.comand Examiner.com and is occasionally quoted in The Federalist. Mr. Salvato is available for public speaking engagements. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.