Can Barack Obama deliver us from the history of lies? It’s doubtful.
Lying game: Say what you want about President George W. Bush, at least he’s consistent. Giving his last state of the union address earlier this week, he stuck to the tried-and-trued principles that have defined what will undoubtedly go down as the most corrupt regime in U.S. history. Call them the Bush Rules:
Never allow the public to cool off. Never admit a fault or wrong. Never concede that there may be some good in your enemy. Never leave room for alternatives. Never accept blame. Concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong. People will believe a big lie sooner than a little one, and if you repeat it frequently enough, people will sooner or later believe it.
Actually, Bites must confess that the last paragraph above was lifted verbatim from a psychological profile of Adolf Hitler drawn up by the Office of Strategic Services in World War II. Not that the despotic duo can be compared. Indeed, when it comes to prevarication, Hitler is simply no match for Bush, who vowed to never tell the truth when he was sworn into office seven long years ago. It is apparently the only pledge he has ever kept.
Bullshit detector: Bites is not exaggerating. From little tiny baby lies to big-daddy whoppers, Bush’s range is astounding. As for frequency, well, let’s just say it’s difficult if not impossible to keep up. That’s the point. A recent study by the Center for Public Integrity found that Bush and his cronies lied 953 times during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Who knows how many fibs they’ve told since then?
Bush lied at least a dozen more times during his state of the union speech, for which he generally earned polite and sometimes raucous applause, even from Democrats. We’re fighting the same terrorists in Iraq that attacked us on 9/11, Bush insisted, a claim that has been repeatedly discredited by U.S. and foreign intelligence services. If Iran doesn’t shut down its nuclear-weapons program, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad & Co. will suffer the consequences, Bush promised, despite the fact that a recent National Intelligence Estimate found that Iran abandoned its fledgling program in 2003. Congress must exercise fiscal discipline, scolded the president, who’s run up more debt on his watch than all of his predecessors combined.
Nowhere outside the rarified realm of left-leaning blogs and progressive talk radio did Bites read or hear a discouraging word. Noting that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appeared to be reading during Bush’s speech, one commentator suggested it might be Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. It would come as no surprise to Bites.
Axis of weasels: When Barack Obama recently noted that “Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not,” he could just as easily have cited Rand and the pop philosophy of Objectivism she founded in the 1960s. Pathologically self-absorbed and deeply hostile to both democracy and the state, Objectivism has informed conservative “thinkers” from Reagan to serial-tax-cutter Grover Norquist to former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan for the past four decades, with disastrous results. Nevertheless, Obama argues that Reagan “put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it.”
Is the country ready for Obama? The winds of change have been blowing strong since the senator from Illinois won the South Carolina primary January 26. The word “movement” has even been bandied about. This week, California Democrats, for the first time in recent memory, have the chance to vote in a primary election that may actually make a difference come August, when the party meets in Denver to select a candidate. As this is being written, Obama trails Sen. Hillary Clinton by double digits, but there’s plenty of time to close the gap. Informing voters that every president since Reagan has taken the country in a profoundly wrong direction would be a great place to start.