Exaggerations or Lies?

Charges have been flying back and forth between the Romney and Obama camps and their partisans, each charging the other with lying, while the most anyone might admit is to a “slight” exaggeration.  So how are we to tell who is “merely” exaggerating for political effect and who is the bald-faced liar?

That’s easy.  My candidate exaggerates just a little; yours is a bald-faced liar.

An exaggeration, perhaps?  From what I’ve heard and seen, not at all.

Romney denies that he said what he said, and his campaign calls it political maneuvering. Romney’s lying. On the other hand, Obama keeps declaring that he’s only going to tax the wealthy, when the specifics of both Obamacare tax increases and his own proposals will definitely have a significant impact on a significant share of the middle class, since some of those taxes kick in at incomes above $100,000, and a family making $100,000 may be “wealthy” in Plano, Texas, or Richfield, Utah, but that’s barely mid-middle class in New York, San Francisco, Honolulu and most of Hawaii, Los Angeles, the Washington, D.C., area, and a number of other places across the United States, totalling tens of millions of Americans. Now, none of those directly affected by his tax plans are in poverty, but to call them wealthy is not only inaccurate, but an out-and-out lie.  I could go on and attack both sides with more specifics, but that’s not the point.

Now, I could say “a pox on both your houses,” because both candidates are guilty of lying, and the only question is which one is the greater liar.  Unhappily, that’s really almost secondary to another question.

I’ve heard die-hard Republicans claim that Obama will destroy religious freedom, annihilate the free-enterprise system, gut our national defense, destroy American womanhood, make abortion free and legal at any time in a pregnancy, and, oh, yes, increase taxes on everyone. They’re right about the last one, because, regardless of Romney’s rhetoric, eventually taxes will have to increase no matter who is President.

Die-hard Democrats aren’t much better, claiming that Romney will create a nation ruled by the ultra-wealthy with wages and incomes falling for everyone else, that he’ll outsource as many jobs as possible to China to keep wages and costs low in the USA to profit the few and the wealthy, a charge not helped at all by David Siegel and the Koch brothers, raise healthcare costs for everyone, but especially to the poor and elderly to the point where few of them will be able to afford medical care, totally destroy a woman’s right to choose by making her carry any pregnancy to term, even if she was raped or the pregnancy will kill her, and, of course, cut taxes on the wealthy while eliminating most deductions to raise taxes on the middle class.

There are grains of truth in both sets of charges, and sometimes even more than that, but this campaign of either lies or reckless exaggeration – take your pick – is more than likely to leave a residue of anger and bitterness that will make actual solutions even more difficult than they’ve been in the past – and we know how few solutions have been considered in Congress, let alone enacted.  No matter who wins the Presidency, it’s highly unlikely that either political party is going to have a sufficient majority in both the House and the Senate to push through its agenda… or anything close.

That means, as I’ve said before, solutions will require compromise, but who will be willing to compromise after all the lies and scorched earth rhetoric?

Unless things change, this election may be the political equivalent for the winner of “the operation was successful… and the patient died”… the patient being the American semi-bipartisan representative democratic experiment created by the Founding Fathers.


2 thoughts on “Exaggerations or Lies?”

  1. Frank says:

    Thank you for being analytical and apparently even-handed. Your point about “a pox on both your houses” hits directly home with me. It’s the way I’ve felt for most of the campaign.

    I have voted in 10 presidential elections, and, for the majority of the time, had to be satisfied by deciding who to vote against, as no candidate appeared worth being voting for, (notable exceptions Reagan and Clinton). This election I’m having a very difficult time deciding who is the worst choice, in order to vote for the other, due in large part to the “scorched earth rhetoric” you allude to.

    I did read a very good article just this morning in the Orlando Sentinel (http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/opinion/os-ed-endorsement-president-mitt-romney-101912-20121018,0,6927962.story). It is an endorsement, and it is for Romney, but that’s not the point. It is even-handed and reasonable. I was so glad to read both your comments and this article because, no matter who you vote for, “a pox on both your houses” probably does no good for anyone, even if it might feel good at the time.

    I especially thank you for your reminder that our Country is so historically short-lived and still can be characterized as an “experiment.” It drives home the point that I must, as a citizen, participate…even when it seems distasteful. It is an obligation and duty, as well as a privilege that so many have died to preserve.

  2. Joe says:

    Greg Palast has an article in the Nation magazine about who benefited from the bailout of Detroit, and what happened to the Americans who worked there. It’s one thing for a Chinese person to buy a US company, take the patents and designs but move production to China. It’s another for an American businessman to do the same, especially when that businessman is running a presidential campaign where he says that American Jobs are his number one priority.


    The Orlando Sentinel article linked above assumes a normal recession. Rogoff et al (economists, authors of “This time it is different, 8 centuries of financial folly”) have clearly demonstrated that financial collapses are different from standard recessions historically and worldwide. Financial collapses take about ten years to resolve, not the normal two for a regular recession. The only real thing governments can do is to prevent them from occurring: having regulations and enforcing them. My understanding is that Peter Singer, Romney’s main backer is pushing for less regulation, whereas the Obama government is pushing to have Peter Singer’s predatory business practices outlawed as they have been in the rest of the Western world.

    Whoever is in power, one can expect things to continue moving in the direction of gutting democracy and the establishment of plutocracy: this is the area most of our representatives agree about. In other areas there may well be gridlock.

    Despite our limited choices, I still think it is worth voting. Mitt Romney’s 5 point plan doesn’t add up. His positions depend on his audience, and his actions put lie to his words. Is such a person is fit for office?

    I’ve also been listening to the 3rd party candidate debates. I can’t say I have been particularly impressed by 3 of the 4 candidates I’ve heard so far.

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