WASHINGTON, May 18, 2013 – Why do the politically powerful lie? How can a president justify lying? It happens so often the American people barely blink anymore.
“I did not have sex with that woman.” Bill Clinton.
“You’ve got to believe I’m innocent. If you don’t, take my job.” Richard M. Nixon.
“There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.” Gerald R. Ford.
“No new taxes.” George H.W. Bush.
“Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.” George W. Bush.
”The American Navy is under attack in the Gulf of Tonkin.” Lyndon B. Johnson.
Then we have our present sitting Commander in Chief, President Barack Obama:
On the government pillaging of the AP journalist office phone records: “I didn’t know.”
On the IRS acts of persecution on the Tea Party: “I didn’t know.”
On the Fast and Furious ATF gun running scandal: “I didn’t know.”
On the low-flying airplane scaring the citizens in New York City: “I didn’t know.”
Mr. President, your zipper’s down. “I didn’t know.”
Now, this may be believable depending whether he wears boxers or briefs.
According to Communities columnist Peter Bella, “The presidency is called the Executive Branch. Executives manage and lead.”
What makes Presidents and others under the public microscope believe they can lie to the population of an entire country?
Do they really think they are so golden everyone believes whatever rolls off their lips, even when they know it is a lie?
Don’t they realize there are millions of people just waiting for one verbal glitch or untruth?
Worse, they never fail to let them down.
Presidents are not alone. Those who aspire to being president are also, too often, liars.
Gary Hart, Joe Biden and John Edwards lost their potential to become the President of the United States by lying. Well, Joe Biden did more than lie. He often just opens his mouth.
“I am not having an affair. You can follow me if you wish.” Gary Hart.
“I am not having an affair.” John Edwards.
“I did not plagiarize that speech.” Joe Biden, Vice President.
Richard Nixon, who by today’s standards told a little lie, lost his presidency. Gerald Ford lost his second term and Bill Clinton stayed in office as a running joke.
Can Obama get away with throwing his hands in the air and disclaiming responsibility with a simple “I didn’t know”? Is he truthful?
It is hard to believe, as he claims, he heard about recents scandals via the media at the same time the public did. If this is true, there is a huge and dangerous problem in his management of this country. National security is almost humorous.
What if he is not truthful? Should he be impeached?
Why do presidents lie when their greater obligation is to be truthful? James Pfiffner of George Mason University says presidents often cannot tell the truth if the truth compromises national security and other such measures of equality.
A president cannot tell the American people “Tomorrow, we are launching an attack on East Toad Strangle.” Apparently, that’s CNN’s forte.
To lie like Clinton did under oath is a slap in the face of this country and all those who try to lead an honest life. Matters of public policy, however, should never be twisted for appearance sake when the most basic premise of democracy is the government carries forth the wishes of its people and people need truth to make an informed decision.
An article in Psychology Today written by Dr. Ronald Riggio declares that, since childhood, we all lie, whether it is to protects one’s privacy, to be polite or maintain dignity. A president cannot maintain the privacy of an entire nation, protect a national dignity if a lie is discovered.
Riggio cites studies that suggest those who lie successful must use skill in self-presentation and impression management and choose their words carefully to make a lie plausible. “I didn’t know” won’t cut it.
Riggio goes on to say eye contact, speaking clearly and fluently without hesitating or pausing to raise suspicion and maintaining a pleasant expression are means to a believable lie. “I didn’t know” sure cuts through the strain of lie management.
Studies also suggest candidates become presidents partly due to their skills at misinforming, being untruthful, and outright fibbing, because the smooth type of social skills required to be believable are the same social skills that impress folks to vote for them.
Some say the best and most effective way to lie is to keep it simple and throw in deniability. “I didn’t know” does the trick. Oliver North used the term “plausible deniability” to deflect potential accusations. “I didn’t know” is not plausible.
George W. Bush publicly accepted blame for discovering Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction (WMD) if one believes millions of gallons of nerve gas to not be WMD, and did not single out anyone except to say he was the recipient of “bad Intelligence.”
President Obama has been described by many as a blame-thrower by not accepting responsibility.
If this is true, then the people of this country need to demand: “President Obama, tear down the stone wall!”
Paul Mountjoy is a Virginia based writer and a member of the American Psychological Association and the Association of Psychological Science.
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