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Paul Krugmann: The McCain Camp Is Telling Lies Worse Than The Bush Administration

 
 
hawkeye10
 
  2  
Reply Fri 12 Sep, 2008 04:53 pm
politicians will stop telling lies when a) people are knowledgeable enough to tell the difference between the truth and a lie, and B) when they exact a political price for the telling of lies. Not before, politicians will never stop it when there is profit in lies.

Don't hold your breath, we have very far to go before THAT can happen.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Sep, 2008 05:35 pm
@hawkeye10,
You got that right! Politicians have a license to lie; and it works - unfortunately for all Americans.

WMD anyone? How about the "biggest reconstruction project in the US?"
0 Replies
 
Asherman
 
  2  
Reply Fri 12 Sep, 2008 06:15 pm
Politicians and executive policy makers have been known to tell lies, regardless of their Party affiliation. Sometimes they tell lies, deliberate falsehoods, to serve their own self-interest. On one hand, people tell lies to avoid shame and censure. On the other hand, the “lie” is intended to gain wealth, fame, power, or political support. Both of these varieties of “untruth” are reflections of a flawed individual character. When this sort of “lie” is told under oath, it is perjury. Otherwise, lies like these are seldom illegal, or even very uncommon.

When the purpose of telling/publishing an untruth isn’t personally motivated it remains a “lie”, but a “lie” society judges quite differently. Strict adherence to absolute honesty is not a virtue, and can often cause more suffering than a lie. To tell an elderly victim of Alzheimer’s Disease that their long dead spouse is just visiting relatives in Europe is a lie. Santa Clause is a lie, but what parent shall be condemned for it? For a high government official to deny that troops will be dispatched to some world’s hot spot may be a lie, but its purpose is to maintain operational security that will save lives lead to victory. Sometimes the bare facts will lead to panic and chaos, while a “lie” will preserve the peace and order needed to effectively respond to a dangerous situation. In these two examples telling a “lie” doesn’t signal a personal character flaw, and most people in our society will not condemn the liar under normal circumstances.

Not every kind of untruthful utterance is a lie, even in a technical sense. Making untrue statements often results from the very human practice of generalizing and drawing premature conclusions from incomplete data. When your friend says that all red-headed people are drunken fighters, that isn’t true even if your friend believes it from his past experience. Its easy to say that everyone should fully investigate matters, apply rigorous logic to the data and qualify conclusions. The world doesn’t work that way. Generalization is necessary for anything to be accomplished, even though we should all recognize that generalization is as often wrong about particulars as it is right. No matter how closely and well we do research, it is not possible to know everything that might be important to our conclusions. Suppose that your car’s gas gauge was broken, and your wife when asked said that she had filled the tank. You get in and run out of gas within a few miles. Did your wife lie, or did she misremember when she put filled up the tank?

“Truth” when it comes to partisan politics is a different matter. The fact of the matter is that all partisan camps are equally guilty of “spin”. All politicians spin untruths, no matter their intention, or importance, or value. When the politician who misspoke, misremembered, was taken out of context, or misquoted, is someone we favor the spin is positive. If the politician is in the opposition party, the spin is negative. Accepting and excusing an untruth while rejecting another as a “lie” based only on one’s Partisan choices is hypocrisy, yet we are almost all of us guilty of it. Maybe it shouldn’t be that way, but it is and always has been. The wise voter attaches little importance to mud slinging accusations of “lies” by figures in the opposing Party.
Rockhead
 
  2  
Reply Fri 12 Sep, 2008 06:18 pm
@Asherman,
So who do we trust?

just askin'...
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Sep, 2008 06:21 pm
@Rockhead,
in theory you trust the one who wants to lead to a good place, even if he has to lie to you to get you to go there. That however would require leaders, those who take their leadership duties seriously, hopefully more seriously than they take personal profit.
Asherman
 
  2  
Reply Fri 12 Sep, 2008 07:24 pm
@Rockhead,
We trust ourselves, and we trust that the combined will of the People will always in the end prevail. Repeatedly I've argued that deciding who to vote for on the bases of campaign rhetoric, or transient issues is misguided.

I believe that we should have already thoughtfully worked out the political philosophy we believe is best for the country. As Americans, the Constitution provides a sound foundation for an effective government that carefully balances the needs of the individual against the needs of society as a whole. A government that is a relatively "pure" Democracy is very nearly anarchistic, with the individual out weighing the needs of society for order, security, and predictability. This sort of government makes almost every national issue the subject of a plebiscite. That results in disaffection for the individuals who "lose" to the will of the majority, and paralysis when government most needs to act quickly, effectively and in a concerted manner.

On the other hand there are those who would place the needs of society above the individual. The government of the PRC and other dictatorships claim to know what is best for every individual, and that central planning is better than individual initiatives. That sort of government was the norm until the Constitution was negotiated, and a the United States adopted a system where the rights of individuals and the rights of society as a whole were guaranteed and balanced.

Both Parties have evolved elements from both of the two primary approaches. The Democratic Party, once all for individualism and States Rights adopted a government oriented approach to addressing national problems during the FDR and LBJ administrations. Individual and State responsibilities are now touted as Federal responsibilities, and the Federal government is responsible for every failure, every problem, and failure that happens within the country. The Republican Party has at the same time adopted the notion of "the least government, is the best government", something that the Democrats propounded for most of the nation's political history. Both Parties have become focused on bribing the electorate with unattainable promises, and appeals to voter special interest groups. So Party affiliation may be helpful in choosing who to vote for, but alone it is only marginally better than believing in campaign rhetoric and "issues".

I think as voters we need to measure each of the candidates against the political philosophy that we believe is best for our country. For me, the GOP is currently closer to the political philosophy embodied in the Constitution than is the Democratic Party. So I naturally tilt toward that Party's candidates, even though I could well be mistaken in my choices.

When we elect a person to the Presidency, we should accept that no person is without fault and that all are probably going to pursue policies that we personally might detest. We don't, or at least shouldn't, elect Presidents who only act in accord with popular opinion. We want a person who can be trusted to act responsibly and in accordance with the basic values of our national culture. The President can't be totally open about many government matters foreign, or domestic. He/she has to make decisions that risk much on the basis of limited knowledge and no crystal ball. Decisions can not be effective if they are made largely on the basis of what is popular. The President has a lonely job of awesome responsiblity, and must have great courage and a clear set of values. The President can not hesitate to order military missions that will almost certainly result in thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of deaths, when that mission is of great importance to the security and well-being of the United States. Presidents are politicians, and politicians find it difficult to make decisions that risk unpopularity, so a President has to be able to rise above politics and his innate need to be loved by all.

How do we judge a candidate's character and courage? By their experience and public record primarily. Not their words, but their actions especially when those decisions/actions risk the candidate's self-interest. Are the candidate's core values strong enough to transcend opposition when it comes to doing "the right thing"? Experience in the political ways of Washington is important in getting legislation passed. To have walked in Harm's Way, and come out of the experience with honor is, I think, a good indicator.

I don't think we should confuse the top of the ticket with the Vice-Presidential candidates. Historically the VP ascends to the Executive Chair only about 20% of the time, so neither Presidential candidate is likely to die or become incapacitated in Office. At 72, McCain is the oldest candidate, but given modern medicine and life expectancy he should have no problem serving for at least four years, and perhaps even eight. The President will be the person who sets policy, designs budgets, calls for legislation, commands the military, and negotiates/deals with foreign governments. The VP may be a trusted advisor and a Presidential apprentice, but they more often than not fade quickly into the background of every administration. The VP is chosen primarily as an attack agent who can take the "low-road" leaving the Presidential candidate above the fray. The VP is often chosen to provide regional or political balance to the ticket.

At the moment the focus is largely on Gov. Palin, and her selection seems to have been a good one. She has wide appeal with "common folk", women, and with the religious/right base of the GOP. Her willingness to take on senior members of her own Party for fraud and malpractice, showed the sort of courage and willingness to take risks that I admire. Her being an outsider to Washington politics will appeal to many populists who want to "throw the rascals out". Those characteristics fuel her popularity, but her lack of political savvy would be very disturbing to me if she were at the top of the ticket. With the focus on Palin, Biden gets a free ride for awhile. That will probably change over the next few weeks. In any case, both VP candidates are a side-show to the McClain-Obama shootout.



0 Replies
 
Asherman
 
  2  
Reply Fri 12 Sep, 2008 07:37 pm
@hawkeye10,
Absent definitive proof otherwise, we must presume that so far every President has placed the responsibilities of their high office above personal or Party considerations. Maybe a case could be made that Nixon's misbehavior put his personal interest above his duty and responsibilities. Popularity has little to do with whether or not any President takes their leadership duties seriously. Better to assume that each President did the best they could given the circumstances, problems and difficulties they and their administrations had to face. Some Presidents have doubtless been more able than others.
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Sep, 2008 08:53 pm
@Asherman,
I was speaking in a general sense, pointing out that as the quality of the leaders goes down the whole scheme of government falls apart. Not that the individuals who have been our leaders are to blame for all, as the quality of of the leaders is directly proportional to the quality of the followers. Americans over these last decades have not overall wanted to be led, have not fulfilled their citizenship duties, have not afforded politics the esteem and respect that would be required to convince the best and the brightest among us to serve.

Constitutional democratic society requires that citizens do their duty, and when they don't bad things happen. America is the poster child for democracy hobbled by sloth
Asherman
 
  2  
Reply Fri 12 Sep, 2008 10:42 pm
@hawkeye10,
I'm not so sure that the quality of American leadership has declined over the past 100 years. In fact, those elected to Congress and the Presidency might even be somewhat better than many of their predecessors. Nixon was perhaps an exception, though in many ways his foreign policy efforts were effective. LBJ was a tragic figure. A poor boy, almost a genius in political manipulation, who only wanted to abolish poverty and lack of opportunity ended up being saddled with an unpopular war he never really understood. Ford may have appeared inept, but the nation badly needed his healing. We wanted a saint after the bad example of Nixon, so we elected one only to discover he was totally unable to grasp the reigns of power. Compare those men to their predecessors, and they don't look so bad. Folks like to rag on the Shrub, but he's a bleeding genius himself compared to some like Harding, Filmore, Pierced, or the Harrisons. I believe that history will be far less harsh in judging Bush than even his own Party has been during these last years.

Congress is filled with Partisanship and legislators who would rather do nothing than take even the smallest risks. That's deplorable, but is about what we've come to expect of Congress over the past couple of hundred years. Great reforms have taken place, and the stink of corruption, and self-interest is truly much less than it was throughout most of the 19th century. Powerful interest groups do influence Congress and members of the Executive Branch, but power of special interests has been greatly reduced from a time when politicians were openly bought and sold.

In a couple of months we will elect a new Administration. Anyone who believes that the new Administration, who ever it is, will radically reform the system is probably also smoking opium. The system is designed to resist radical change, and the army of bureaucrats whose careers run 30 years compared to their temporary bosses, will go on doing business pretty much as usual. Congress will still consist of log-rolling, compromise and backscratching that has characterized it from the beginning. There will be changes both domestically and in our foreign policy, but much of that will be beyond the control of the new President. His backers will lose their enthusiasms as the real world replaces their optimistic dreams of reforming government to suit their own desires. Decisions will be made that offend some portions of the electorate. Mistakes, misjudgments, and foolishness will cause the opposition to demonize to some extent the evil incumbent.

We've been through this scenario every four years since Washington ran for his second term. Why should it be any different? Radical political change is a very risky business, as anyone who has studied world revolutionary history can tell you. Thinking to "improve" or "solve" one set of problems invariably engenders a whole new set of problems. Make Congress efficient, or decrease the power of the Executive and you might very well through the whole machine so out of balance that we would later greatly regret it.

We have been under attack by a non-traditional enemy using unconventional strategy for almost 15 years. Only when that war against us was brought to our shores on 9/11 were our dreams disturbed. For a while the public supported every effort to find and eliminate the threat to our country and the world posed by the Radical Islamic Movement. As time has passed, and the cost of that struggle has risen in lives and treasure, Americans have become frustrated, weary and now would like to return to their peaceful dreams. The threat to our nation has not passed, and the enemy if given the least chance will strike again, and again and again. The threat of nuclear armed radicals in Asia isn't going to go away anytime soon. The Russian Bear is stirring in its hibernation. The PRC and India are threatening to throw the world's economic system out of balance, and if they fail to make the transition from 3rd world status the results could be catastrophic. We are facing other important challenges like the need to supply our energy needs without petrochemicals. The nation needs sound leadership both in the Executive and Legislative Branches, but we shouldn't deceive ourselves into the false belief that Utopian government is wholly dependent on who wins this election.
0 Replies
 
 

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