Ever since Republican Congressman Joe Wilson shouted, "You lie" at President Obama during his 2009 speech to a joint session of Congress, Obama has had a tough time shedding Wilson's characterization of him. Since taking office, Obama has often been accused of being less than truthful or telling an outright lie about some of his policies, programs and affairs of state. It makes one wonder if Pinocchio hasn't taken up permanent residence at the White House. Last December, PolitiFact.com awarded Obama's infamous claim, "If you like your health care plan, you can keep it," Lie of the Year for 2013. Recent polls indicate that Obama's image has taken quite a hit with a majority of respondents branding him "untrustworthy."
A new finds that 63% of Americans have either little or no confidence that Barack Obama will make the right decisions for the country. And half of them find him untrustworthy. -- Washington Post-ABC News poll
The poll also found that 53 percent of those polled said Obama is not honest or trustworthy, marking the first time that the CNN/ORC polling found a clear majority questioning the president's integrity. -- CNN-ORC poll
President Barack Obama has lost the trust of most Americans: a new poll shows that about six in 10 voters think he lies on important issues some or most of the time. -- Fox News poll
For his part, Obama has contributed to his own poor political image by frequently suggesting that he didn't know or even worse, wasn't informed beforehand about the details surrounding several high profile, politically embarrassing incidents, namely, the Fast and Furious gun scandal, Benghazi killings, IRS Tea Party audits, Obamacare screw-ups and, most recently, the VA scandal. Surely, the President of the United States should know what's going on in his Administration you think?
Obama's political foes try to paint him as the biggest liar in presidential history. But is he? Obama is not the first nor will he be the last president who's looked Congress and the American people in the eye and lied. A notable exception may be President Jimmy Carter who declared he would never lie to the American people. Carter was criticized for being too honest. He was voted out of office after serving only one term. Why do presidents lie in the first place? Matters of national security aside, some presidents lie for their own self-interest to cover-up conduct un-becoming to that high office. President Bill Clinton lied about having sexual relations with an intern in the White House, conduct that nearly led to his impeachment. President Richard Nixon lied about Watergate and his involvement in illegal campaign activities. Nixon later resigned to avoid impeachment.
Other presidential lies worth mentioning are those that mislead Congress for the purpose of getting legislation passed or Congressional approval for military actions. In a speech to Congress, President George H. Bush lied about Iraq's having "Weapons of Mass Destruction." Soon after, Congress approved military air strikes that soon escalated into full military engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan. So far, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have resulted in the deaths of nearly 7,000 American soldiers, and the wounding of another 50,000. No WMDs were ever found in Iraq. Likewise, President Franklin D. Roosevelt is suspected of manipulating the facts in order to get Congressional approval for America to enter World War II. Prior to Pearl Harbor, the US position on the war in Europe had been to remain neutral.
In an election year, presidential candidates lie to gain a political advantage. During his presidential bid, George W. Bush promised, "No new taxes." After he was elected, Bush broke that promise and raised taxes. During their presidential campaign, Senator Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney often lied about each other's ability to govern, while at the same time claiming more than either could deliver. After six years in office, Obama has not delivered on many of his campaign promises. Everybody knows a politician's campaign promises are seldom kept. Few politicians have the singular power to do even half of what they say they're going to if elected.
It's impossible to decide which president is the biggest liar in presidential history but only because every lie has consequences both for the one who's telling it and those affected by it. What's seems more important at this particular time in American history is making sure that those candidates elected to office at any level are not only qualified but also have unquestioned integrity and exceptional ability. It was President Thomas Jefferson who said, "The government you elect is the government you deserve." In his article, "How to measure a President," author John Dickerson suggests that voters follow the lead of major corporations.
What if we approached presidential campaigns the way a large corporation approaches its search for a new chief executive? The purpose of the campaign would be to test for the skills and attributes actually required for the job. Companies such as McDonald's and Target do this even at the junior levels. Applicants are asked questions like “Tell us about a conflict at work you helped resolve” and “What’s the biggest obstacle you overcame?” The qualities employers are seeking are the same ones voters should be looking for in presidential candidates: initiative, experience, creativity, and problem solving.
Mid-term elections take place in November. One can only hope that the voters will learn from the past and go beyond the campaign rhetoric and cleverly crafted campaign slogans (e.g. Yes we can or It's the economy stupid) and look deeper for the intrinsic qualities that will result in the best qualified candidate to lead America into the future.
And I will give you leaders after my own heart, who will guide you with wisdom and understanding, says the Lord. Jeremiah 3:15 TLB