Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Without truth, political discourse suffers

with one comment

Sadly, we live in a world where “truth” isn’t universal. So let’s play a game.

Which is a “truthier” statement?

Mark McGwire has taken steroids.

George Walker Bush was president of the United States on September 11, 2001.

Even before McGwire’s tearful admission this week, most Americans would have said the McGwire statement was more truthful, even if the McGwire statement was officially speculation and the Bush statement was undeniable fact.

Why would more Americans believe that Bush wasn’t in the White House? Dana Perino, Mary Matalin, and Rudy Giuliani.

After all, in discussing Republican talking points, the newest point apparently is that Bush wasn’t in charge during the worst terrorism attack on U.S. soil. The implication is that Bush couldn’t have done anything to prevent it, such as acting on the now famous August 6 PDB. But how could he? After all, Bush wasn’t in charge.

These three Republicans have gone on television recently, and empathetically said that 9/11 didn’t happen on Bush’s watch. And if Republicans don’t believe that was true, if Republicans really know better, they didn’t speak up.

The left wing did speak up each time, chastising John King (Mary Matalin) and George Stephanopoulos (Rudy Giuliani) for letting those statements air without correction. Dana Perino made her statement on Fox “News” Channel, and no one on the panel challenged her words.

But virtually every American, outside of Tony LaRussa and McGwire’s family, thought McGwire had taken steroids. Pictures of McGwire early in his career vs. late in his career, the huge spike in home runs, the better stamina as he got older — these seemed like proof. Accusations from fellow teammate Jose Canseco weren’t taken as seriously, but it added to the speculation.

Yet, technically, until substantial proof in McGwire’s case, his steroid use wasn’t a fact, even if everyone believed it.

But Bush being in charge on September 11, 2001 — there is plenty of proof. Reading to “My Pet Goat” to schoolchildren in Florida. Those who were at the rain-soaked inauguration on January 20, 2001. The legally questionable 5-4 Supreme Court decision. Yes, Bush hid away that day after he eventually left the classroom, and was MIA throughout that day. But he was technically in charge.

The statements are even more outrageous, depending on the definition of terrorist attack. After all, these Republicans aren’t counting the anthrax attack, the shoe bomber, countless domestic terrorist attacks of smaller proportion than 9/11. If you’re older than 10 years old, you know this isn’t true.

But we live in a media environment where political operatives lie all the time, and don’t get caught or called on the carpet. Subtle lies are likely going to slip through the process. But media people who are supposed to be smart enough to talk politics on TV are letting king-sized fish go by unfettered.

After all, why change the system if you can tell such an egregious lie and get away with it. In the last scenario, George Stephanopoulos acknowledged on his blog that he should have said something to Giuliani. Did Stephanopoulos have to look it up after the interview? Was he not sure? Did he check Wikipedia?

At least, Stephanopoulos had the “courage” to admit after the fact that he messed up, a lame step, but the only one in that scenario who took one.

If we are going to have a discussion of political concerns, there can be a “joy” to picking selected facts to match one’s philosophy. We used to have this, but now, we don’t even have that. Those on TV are picking their own lies, and for the most part, they are picking crappy ones. Yet the MSM does nothing.

We can disagree on solutions to problems, but politics — the jobs of politicians — is supposed to be about finding solutions to problems. Right now, we can’t agree that there are problems, and we aren’t starting with the truth. Until we find a way to fix that, politics, and the media coverage they receive, are just going to get uglier.

To paraphrase an overused movie line, we can handle the truth. Maybe not all the truth, but we can handle the basic facts. Politicians who can step up to do that will get rewarded, regardless of political philosophy. The people are parched for politicians to treat them like adults. The first place to start is telling the truth.


Written by democracysoup

January 15, 2010 at 6:47 am

One Response

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  1. […] a comment » We saw three times where Republican pundits adamantly denied that Bush was president during 9/11 in an eerie parallel to Peter denying Jesus three times in the […]

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