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President Obama's lie mild compared to lies of past presidents


“All my life I”ve known better than to depend on the experts. How could I have been so stupid, to let them go ahead?”


-President John F. Kennedy to Theodore Sorenson after the Bay of Pigs disaster.



Even a cursory survey of presidential lying over the last half-century lets President Obama off the hook concerning his claim, his lie that "if you like your current insurance, you keep that insurance."


This lie seems mild compared some other lies told by earlier presidents.

president obama

 Both Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy, for example, when caught lying about the U-2 spy plane incident and the Bay of Pigs invasion, respectively, quickly changed course, a la Obama, and took the heat for their indiscretions.


Interestingly enough, the “heat” in those two incidents came from the same place its coming from now: the right wing of the Republican Party.


(Yesterday’s Tea Party, The John Birch Society, was founded on the belief that President Eisenhower was a communist mysteriously inserted into American politics to subvert America from within. Go figure. It had many adherents, mostly from areas of the country that are robustly pro Tea Party today. The more things change, the more they stay the same.)


Two other Presidents, both Republicans, told lies that had far-reaching consequences for the country. Neither was brought to task by the ever vigilant members of the right wing, the self-appointed taskmasters of correctness, the guardians against all that is not truthful.


The first, Richard Nixon, was impeached and resigned his office as a result of both his lies and the slow-moving political drama known as Watergate. Nixon’s lies, cover up, and resignation produced a full-fledged constitutional crisis, but very little by way of reaction from the far right. They liked him; they admired him. Right to the end, ignominious as it was.


While Nixon and the nation took months and months to unravel, reveal, and ultimately to resolve Watergate, the war in Vietnam, a grinding affair at best, was ignored. The casualties did not take a break, a breather, or a rest. No matter; the silence from the Right was as profound as the noise is now loud for Obama’s head.


In the end, it was a moderate Republican, today’s endangered but resilient species, that was the was key to Nixon’s demise: it was only when Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania, a loyal follower if there ever was one, revoked his support that Nixon knew his end had arrived. He resigned a few days later.Photo: cnn.com


The second Republican President to lie with impunity from the Right was George W. Bush.  His lies included the famous, “we don’t torture our enemies” line, and he was never sanctioned by the right wing either. They really liked W. until the very end when the Tea Party was born from the financial crisis not the torture scandal, not from the Katrina debacle, not from the weapons of mass destruction we-know-you’re-there-so-we-need-to-invade-Iraq illogic that cost so much in treasure, prestige, influence, and human life.


Like with Nixon, the Right didn’t have much to say as W. was busy embarrassing America while forfeiting our heritage, tradition, and moral authority in the world. And for what? All these years later, what do have to show for the folly of torture, preemptive war, financial bubbles?


Obama gets off lightly in comparison. Most people understand this, that’s why there is no outrage beyond the Tea Party echo chamber.


On the contrary, there is ample evidence to construct a positive narrative about politics in America.


The two elections of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama prove conclusively that the middle of America politics is sane, reasonable, and mature.

president obama bill clinton

 The recent government shutdown, followed closely by off-year elections reinforce the idea that the craziness of the Right is way off the mark. People are fed up.


Alabama, fertile ground for a Tea Party strong-hold if there is one, elected a moderate Republican to the House, rejecting a Tea Party candidate.


The election of a Democrat to the governorship of Virginia offers more evidence that the Tea Party’s “we eat our young” ethos just doesn’t work. The Tea Party and a Libertarian managed to divide the right, opening the election to a Democrat.

The Tea Party appears to be a paper tiger, a movement more intent on ideological purity than electoral effectiveness.


No radical or fanatical political party, except-interestingly- the Republican Party, has ever prospered over the long term in America.


The Tea Party has received a stinging rebuke.


Someone please inform them.


Contact Michael Settle at michaelsettle@gmail.com

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Obama photo credits: AFP/Getty Image.com

Bush photo: cnn.com 

Thumbnail: worddrum.wordpress.com