Presidential lies

by | Nov 6, 2013 | National Politics | 9 comments

The pundits and political observers are all atwitter over Barack Obama’s statement, “If you want to keep your plan, you can” when in reality, people with lousy plans can’t. They are demanding he own his lie and some are even talking impeachment (geez, these folks never learn). Well, get over it.

As Jon Stewart pointed out last night, his statement was certainly less than honest but it was said in response to a campaign that was equally dishonest. Obama also had policy people telling him one thing and political people telling him another. The debate inside the White House probably went something like this:

Somebody on the political side came up with the line “If you want to keep your plan, you can keep it.” The policy folks said, “You can’t say that. Some people with really shitty coverage will lose it.” To which the political person said, “Well, if you have a really shitty plan then you don’t want it. So therefore it’s true.” Obviously, the political guy was trying to give the president just enough cover, and confidence, to make the statement. The president, who was completely committed to passing this law, bit. Now, he’s paying the piper.

But really, it’s minor in the history of presidential lies. Let’s rehash. George W. Bush told us and the world, unequivocally, that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. He even sent Colin Powell to the U.N. with bogus evidence. Hundreds of thousands of lives, billions of dollars and years of war later, we are still paying for that one. Bill Clinton said, “I did not have sex with that woman” and “That depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.” Fifteen years later, we still remember those lines. George Bush the First famously said, “Read my lips: No new taxes.” He said it to Republicans and it cost him his re-election. Ronald Reagan adamantly denied trading arms for hostages but, in fact, did just that. (He sold weapons to Iran!) To his credit, he owned up to it two years later when the evidence of the sale, and his knowledge of it, was incontrovertible. Carter and Ford stayed honest but they also followed Richard “I am not a crook” Nixon so the nation’s tolerance for dishonesty was at an all time low. Johnson lied about the Gulf of Tonkin to drag us deeper into Vietnam, a war that cost over 50,000 American lives. And the list goes on.

So in the scheme of things, Obama’s lie is pretty minor. And it’s not like he’s got a string of lies that make him look like a habitual liar, except in the eyes of the wing-nuts who believe anything and also lie to themselves. He was selling a program, not leading us into war.

Should he own his statement and make some sort of apology? Probably. But it won’t quiet his critics. That said, a bunch of politicians criticizing another politician for lying rings hollow. And the self-righteous outrage of pundits and observers is certainly overblown.


  1. You Gotta Be Kiddin

    What a perfect article for an even more perfect president…”Sure he lied…but it wasn’t really his fault …and all Presidents lie…but his lie didn’t put us in a war… so get over it!

  2. Jimmy Rouse

    I have not been able to get through to sign up for Obamacare but just knowing that President Obama cares about me has been wonderful. I have been on crutches for 23 years and as soon as the Obamacare website went online I was healed instantly. Even though I could not log on to register I was able to throw away my crutches. I grabbed up my EBT card and ran down to the liquor store. I bought some whiskey and ran through the streets. The healing power of Obamacare has healed me. And I do not even have a hangover as I was so excited I bought the good liquor. And I was even more happy when the NSA called on my Obamaphone to say that I had left my change on the counter at the liquor store. How can things get any better than this? Is this heaven?

    • Thomas Mills

      A few problems here, Cam. First, you only list 4 reasons, not 5. Second, number 2 was a statement made in the presidential campaign 2008, not a promise about Obamacare. Third, your claim that it will increase the deficit is only true if Congress continues to mess with the law ( I think the law is going to work, though I would prefer a single-payer program and hope we eventually end up there.

      • Cam Harris

        Thanks for pointing out that that post never got updated with my edits…it’s fixed now.

        Even if the “lowering premiums by $2500” promise was not Obamacare-specific, it was specific to the healthcare reform that he was pushing while campaigning to be President. So in terms of the healthcare reform that was enacted when he actually became President, we still aren’t seeing this reduction. Instead, we are seeing exactly the opposite.

        Going into this law the President knew that it wasn’t going to be implemented in the long-term just as it was passed. That just doesn’t happen with laws of this magnitude. I agree with you in the sense that certain provisions that need to be removed will change projections once they are removed, like the medical device tax. However, that doesn’t change the fact that provisions like the medical device tax were thrown into the law solely as a measure to control costs,even if they were poorly conceived and contrary to basic economic principles.

        We obviously disagree on a single-payer system. The federal government has already expanded regulatory and systematic control over one-sixth of our economy, and we have seen the negative effects (cancelled plans, reduced work hours, slow business growth). I definitely don’t want to see the federal government take TOTAL control over a piece of the economy that is that large.

      • NitWitCharmer

        Thomas Mills:

        I think the law is going to work, though I would prefer a single-payer program and hope we eventually end up there.

        You should understand that while a monopoly is dangerous to an economy, a monopsony is just as dangerous for the same reason.

        It breaks the market.

        At either extreme, whether it is a market that consists of one supplier and many consumers (monopoly) or a market that consists of one consumer and many suppliers (monopsony) we will all be worse off and your single payer dream is the perfect example of a monopsony.

  3. casey

    Well, the first two parts of your handle are accurate.

    • NitWitCharmer

      Have you been charmed??

  4. NitWitCharmer

    Is it just “a” lie?

    • I pledge to cut the deficit we inherited in half by the end of my first term.
    • My budget will cut the deficit by $4 trillion over ten years.
    • The healthcare plan will not increase the deficit by one dime.
    • You can keep your doctor and your insurance plan if you want to. Guaranteed.
    • The average family premium will be lowered by $2500.00.
    • The NSA is not abusing its power.
    • I said Benghazi was a terrorist attack from the beginning.
    • Obamacare is not a new tax.
    • First of all, I didn’t set a red line. The world set a red line.
    • The sequester is not something that I proposed. It is something Congress has proposed.
    • The government is not going to make you change healthcare plans.
    • Fast & Furious Program was a field-initiated program begun under the previous administration.
    • The Health Care package will pay for itself.
    • We have run out of places to drill for oil.
    • I am not somebody who promotes same-sex marriage.
    • I have visited all 57 states.
    • I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of the President of the United States and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

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