Throughout time politicians and their handlers have been prone to omitting unpleasant facts or manipulating them so as to mold issues to their advantage. This is the concept behind “spin”; a form of propagandizing that crafts an “alternative” interpretation of an issue, organization, person, event or campaign in order to sway the public’s opinion “for” or “against” said issue, organization, person, event or campaign. In fact, the “art of spin” has created an entirely separate category of political animal; the “spin doctor,” many of whom are regularly featured on the many mainstream media news outlets disguised as “political strategists.” But somewhere along the line, the art of employing wit, reason, personality and persuasive rhetoric in order to achieve a political ends gave way to the blatant lie, and never before has it been as evident as it is today.
This political malady is not exclusive to one side of the aisle or the other. Neither is it exclusive to the elected class. In fact, some of the most egregious abusers of truth and honesty come in the form of agenda-driven media operatives. It is an across-the-board problem that comes with the intellectual infections that are the “inside-the-beltway mentality” and the special interest mentality, both of which are shared by the elected class, the media who cover them and the special interest groups who try to sway them both.
In the Republican Primary Elections we have seen a good example of spin, and viciously so. In one of the most negative political cycles in recent times, we have witnessed each of the nominees unleash barrage after barrage of negative attacks ads against whomever they deem the threat of the day. Ron Paul and Rick Santorum, although not as blatant about their approval of such tactics, are just as guilty of partaking in the art of spin; in stretching the truth to achieve an ideological goal, as Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney. It can be argued that Mr. Romney is the biggest abuser, but I am sure that Romney supporters will spin that to their advantage.
But the Republican field’s negative campaigning and spinning of fellow candidates’ stances and records pales in comparison to the outright dishonesty that is coming from the Progressive Left, the media who supports them and the Obama Administration. Ironically, an unspoken penchant for decorum and civility kept the word “liar” – and the accusation of lying – from being employed just one short decade ago. Chronicling the genesis of this sad and reprehensible turn of events, one can point to the Progressive Left’s disingenuous assault of President George W. Bush with, “Bush Lied, Soldiers Died” as the moment it became acceptable to level the charge of “liar” against an elected official, never mind a sitting President. Although many may have thought it – and perhaps even known it – we, as a people, refrained from actually saying it.
Today, it doesn’t even garner an eyebrow-raise when the likes of US Rep. Maxine Waters (P-CA) calls Speaker of the House John Boehner or House Majority Leader Eric Cantor “liars.” Recently, the radically Progressive lawmaker went so far as to call the whole of the House Republican contingent “demons.” So much for the civility speech that President Obama gave after the shooting of US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona.
Three recent events serve as perfect examples – three articles of evidence, if you will – of how the Progressive Left has “fundamentally transformed” the art of spin to a campaign of dishonesty, and, again, simply for the retention of political power.
The first item comes in the form of a declaration by the Obama White House that Catholic Charities USA stood with Mr. Obama and Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in support of their plan to mandate that the insurance companies of religious institutions provide free “contraception coverage” for all employees.
“Catholic Charities USA has occasionally been cited as a supporter of the new policy, after the administration announced last week it would no longer require religious organizations to directly offer contraceptive coverage to workers. That’s almost certainly because the White House listed the group on an official blog that cited ‘praise from a wide range of individuals and organizations’ for the policy change…
“But the organization has since posted a clarification on its website, after that statement was interpreted by some as an endorsement.
“‘We have not endorsed the accommodation to the HHS mandate that was announced by the administration last Friday,’ the group said. Rather, the group said it would ‘unequivocally share the goal’ of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to ‘uphold religious liberty. Any representation to the contrary is false,’ Catholic Charities said.”
It is interesting to note how the Obama White House cherry-picked and abbreviated a quote by Catholic Charities USA to fit their narrative. Catholic Charities USA had issued a statement saying it welcomed, “the administration’s attempt to meet the concerns of the religious community” and that they were “hopeful that this is a step in the right direction.” That’s a far cry from an endorsement or even convoluted support.
Out of this same subject came another assault against honesty, this time at the hand of habitual spinner and a Progressive operative herculean in her ability to weave fiction out of any given issue, Rachel Maddow.
On her MSNBC program, speaking on the Obamacare contraception mandate issue, Maddow said:
“In these 28 states there’s already State law that requires employers – including in many cases employers associated with religious institutions – to provide health insurance that covers contraception. That is already the law of the land in these 28 States.
“There is a reason you have not been deafened by the cries of outrage over that policy in these 28 States. It’s because no one in the Republican Party decided that that sort of thing would be an outrage until now – until they could somehow try to use it against President Obama even though they never cared about it before.
“Actually eight of those States that require health insurance to cover contraception – in these eight States there’s not even an exemption for churches. That’s true of all these Godless places you see here, like Georgia and Iowa and Montana.
“So, in fact, the Obama Administration’s proposed new rule on health insurance, which says religious institutions like churches do not have to provide health insurance that covers contraception – those new rules from the Obama Administration would actually give churches a new exemption from that law that they’ve never had before. In eight States the Obama Administration rule would carve out more space for churches to evade the rules that everyone else has to operate by, on the basis of their religious beliefs…
“I, personally, along with many other people across this country, along with eight States across the country, think it is bizarre that there should be religious belief exemptions from having to follow laws like this, but the Obama Administration is willing to go there. Their rules will exempt churches, which eight states right now don’t even do.”
There is so much wrong with this statement one can hardly find a place to begin. So, we are thankful that the Media Research Center captured one of Ms. Maddow’s own MSNBC colleagues, Lawrence O’Donnell, debunking the blatant lie foisted on the American public by Ms. Maddow and her production team:
“Now you’ve heard many, many times in the last couple of days that there are now 28 States that have passed [measures] similar to the regulation in the Obama healthcare law and that all of that has suddenly become so controversial.
“You’ve also been told – and I’ve been told – repeatedly on television that eight of those States have absolutely no exemptions to the law. None. No religious exemptions at all. No way out for Catholic churches, Catholic schools, Catholic hospitals…their stuck. And I’ve got to tell you, when I heard it, every time I heard it, it just didn’t sound right to me. And whenever I hear people in Washington or New York say what’s happening out there in the States, in some State law, in a place where they’ve never been, I just don’t believe them, and you shouldn’t either.
“…we spent the day today studying the statutes in the eight States that everyone is saying provide absolutely no exception. The other twenty States, everyone agrees, provides bigger, more comfortable exemptions for the Catholic Church, including Massachusetts, which has falsely been reported as being identical to the provision inserted into the federal law. In all of those other twenty State laws there’s an exemption big enough for the White House to drive through.
“Let’s look then at the Georgia law, which you’ve been told and I’ve been told, repeatedly, has absolutely no exemptions and does have that astonishingly Liberal sounding prose introduction to it that I just read.
“The Georgia Law actually says, ‘This code section shall not be construed to require coverage for prescription coverage benefits in any contract policy or plan that does not otherwise provide coverage for prescription drugs’…And there is the huge exemption to the Georgia law. You are exempt from it if your policy simply does not provide for prescription drugs. And so all religious institutions have to do in Georgia to avoid the requirement to provide birth control pills is to just not provide any drug benefit in their policies….which is true about an awful lot of policies out there anyway.”
Refreshing to have an MSNBCer calling one of their own out on the carpet.
But perhaps the quintessential example of governmental and political dishonesty came in the form of a statement Obama Chief of Staff Jack Lew made during a taping of CNN’s State of the Union, defending the blatant and grotesquely partisan obstructionism of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid where passing a budget is concerned:
“Let’s be clear, what Senator Reid is talking about is a fairly narrow point. In order for the Senate to do its annual work on appropriation bills they need to pass a certain piece of legislation which sets a limit. They did that last year. That’s what he’s talking about. He’s not saying they shouldn’t pass a budget, but we also need to be honest, you can’t pass a budget in the Senate of the United States without sixty votes and you can’t get sixty votes without bi-partisan support. So, unless Republicans are willing to work with Democrats in the Senate, Harry Reid is not going to be able to get a budget passed.”
Of course, there is one major thing wrong with that statement: it doesn’t take 60 votes to pass a budget in the US Senate.
As The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler points out in The Fact Checker:
“Lew is completely wrong when he claims that 60 votes are needed to ‘pass a budget in the Senate.’ As he well knows, a budget resolution is one of the few things that are not subject to a filibuster. In fact, that is one reason why a bill based on reconciliation instructions cannot be filibustered.
“You don’t even need 50 votes, just a simple majority. Here are a few of the recent close votes for the budget resolution, as listed by CRS: 48-45 (2009 budget); 51-49 (2006); 51-50 (2004); 50-48 (2001). Senate Democrats may have reasons for failing to pass a budget plan — such as wanting to avoid casting politically inconvenient votes — but a GOP filibuster is not one of them.”
It needs to be noted here – for those who don’t know his prior positions in federal government – that Mr. Lew was not only the most recent budget director for President Obama; he was also the budget director for former President Bill Clinton. That said, it is impossible for him not to have known that it does not take sixty votes to pass a budget resolution in the US Senate.
In fact, Mr. Lew made the statement repeatedly that day, pointing to a concerted effort to move that political talking point into the mainstream so as to manipulate the truth and, thereby, manipulating the public’s perception of the issue. The bottom line here is that the President of the United States’ Chief of Staff went on several national media outlets professing an out-and-out lie in order to confuse and manipulate the American people; solely for political gain.
Joseph de Maistre, a key figure of the Counter-Enlightenment and defender of hierarchical societies and monarchical States, in opining against a democratic form of government, whether a Direct Democracy of a Constitutional Republic, such is the United States, is quoted as saying: “Every country has the government it deserves.” Given the pathetic performance of the American Electorate in not only turning out the vote but in our constitutional obligation of governmental oversight, I’d say Monsieur de Maistre was spot on.
We talk a lot today about how we must act to save our country. To be sure, this action is incredibly necessary. We the People have allowed government to fall into the hands of nefarious men and women; partisans and opportunists; men and women more loyal to their political parties than to their constituents. We have an opportunity to right this wrong by enlightening ourselves to the many truths of the matters, by educating ourselves on the philosophies of the Charters of Freedom and then engaging in the process of electoral decision making and properly discharging our constitutional duties to governmental oversight.
We can also go a long way to “getting back to good” by making honesty and truthfulness an election year issue. If we accept dishonesty from our elected officials and do nothing to right that wrong, then Monsieur de Maistre was right, we have the government we deserve.
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Frank Salvato is the managing editor for The New Media Journal. He serves at the Executive Director of the Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(C)(3) research and education initiative.