I never would have thought it possible to say but I believe now it is a powerfully good thing that our presidential nominating process is such a long, drawn out affair.
How else were we ever going to confirm that Barack Obama is a most accomplished and shameless liar?
Obama lies with an ease that bespeaks a comfortable familiarity with the practice. At first, when his lies about his friend Tony Rezko were revealed and then confirmed by the candidate himself, I thought to myself that every politician lies at some point and that Obama telling the press that he barely knew Rezko, that he was one of a thousand contributors, and that he only raised around $50,000 for his campaigns could be written off as a candidate simply blowing smoke about a problematic associate. (It turned out that Rezko was Obama’s most important fundraiser, a patron, and that he raised closer to $275,000 for the candidate.)
And then came the lies about the house he purchased with the help of Rezko. Obama addressed most of the questions in a sit down with the Chicago Tribune and Sun Times reporters – where further information came to light once again contradicting Obama’s previous statements about the extent to which he and Rezko cooperated in securing the home.
In Obama’s original statements about the purchase, he denied coordinating anything about the purchase with Rezko. He also denied knowing that Rezko was under investigation at the time when the entire city of Chicago knew that the “Fixer” was in trouble due to his fundraising activities for Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. (He admitted during the Trib interview that he had heard of Rezko’s troubles.) He also tried to paint Rezko as some eager beaver lobbyist who was just trying to get close to him.
In fact, one could say that Obama’s original explanation of his relationship with Rezko and much of what he said about the purchase of his house was nothing but a tissue of lies – swallowed for the most part by the national press. It was left to local reporters to ferret out the true story and put the pressure on Obama to come clean.
Again, when most of these revelations came to light, I was inclined to give Obama a break. Nothing unusual about a politician faced with an indicted associate trying to distance himself from the dirt. But I should have made note of the ease with which Obama first lied about his relationship with Rezko and then corrected the record without apolology and with zero damage to his credibility with his supporters.
But then came the Reverend Wright fiasco and Obama’s lying took on an entirely different character. His speech on race – done out of political necessity but nevertheless a thought provoking and wonderfully crafted address – contained many statements about Wright and his relationship with the preacher that strain credulity. John Derbyshire pointed out several of these “sleight of mouth” prevarications by Obama. And Obama’s biggest fibs about whether he heard Wright utter his hate filled sermons were given a pass by almost everyone.
It is breathtaking the way Obama has changed his narrative about Wright. He has done it with an ease and slipperiness that should disturb anyone who believes a president telling the truth must be placed fairly high on any list of qualifications for office. We’ve just spent 16 years dealing with Presidents who proved to be less than honest on big issues. Can’t we do better this time around?
Lies about Wright, about his grandmother, about the context in which he heard Wright’s remarks when attending Trinity Church – and finally, this whopper Obama blurted out in an interview scheduled to air today:
“Had the reverend not retired, and had he not acknowledged that what he had said had deeply offended people and were inappropriate and mischaracterized what I believe is the greatness of this country, for all its flaws, then I wouldn’t have felt comfortable staying at the church,” Obama said Thursday during a taping of the ABC talk show, “The View.” The interview will be broadcast Friday.
Let’s leave aside the extraordinarily self serving notion that Obama would have left the Church after 20 years of sitting in its pews listening to the hate spewing from the mouth of Reverend Wright not because he found the words objectionable but because it would have complicated his run for the presidency. Let us instead look at the ease with which he lied on a very popular TV show watched by millions of women by stating that Wright had “acknowledged that what he had said had deeply offended people” and that the remarks “were inappropriate.”
Did he indeed?
So, when did Wright acknowledge that what he had said was deeply offensive and inappropriate? The AP story recounts some of Wright’s controversial comments but oddly omits to mention his apology, as does all other news coverage with which I am familiar. And I am strangely certain that a Wright apology would have made the news – unless he never made it publicly.
So what are we supposed to believe – that Wright apologized to Obama, who is now apologizing to the rest of us on Wright’s behalf? For heaven’s sake, this really does show that Obama is made of Presidential stuff – maybe he can do an Apology Tour, just as Bill Clinton did.
But why is Wright apologizing to Obama, who only heard these remarks second hand – well, “second hand” if we still believe Obama’s insistence that he missed every service with these controversial comments (Huffington Post) but heard others (The Speech) but didn’t hear anything at all (town hall). Shouldn’t Wright be apologizing to those of us who took offense? Or after thirty years of delivering three sermons per week, has Wright developed a fear of public speaking?
Is this a little lie? Or a big one? Considering the fact that if Wright had indeed issued this tepid apologia it would place Obama’s defense of his minister in an entirely different, more palatable light, it certainly is not insignificant.
But what concerns me more than the lies themselves is the ease with which Obama employs them. Most politicians are pretty good liars but Obama, like Bill Clinton (unlike George Bush who is a horrible liar) is very, very good at it. And what’s even worse is his ability to turn 180 degrees and embrace the truth when he is discovered while barely acknowledging or ignoring the lie.
I will probably end up doing a post soon on McCain’s whoppers as well. The guy can’t keep his story straight about his support for amnesty, the Iraq War, or campaign finance reform, or any number of issues he has dealt with over the years. McCain doesn’t have quite as much to lie about – or at least about his personal associations.
For two guys running on how honest they are, it’s depressing to think that if these guys are the straightest talkers we have in the political class, our republic is in deep trouble.