If you think governments have always lied, well, you’d be wrong. But why this is so is because for the most of history they’ve never had to. Or fear any repercussions. Like so many other things we believe are universal, but are peculiarly American, refraining from lying to the people out of fear of them is something that America dreamed up because of that special relationship the people had forged with their governments, by being above them.
But it would be true if I told you that all governments have wanted to lie, that it is in their nature to lie, just as all politicians want to lie at some time or another, no matte how many perfect attendance pins they got in Sunday School. This is in part because governments and their politicians and bureaucrats want us to believe that they are a little larger than life. They don’t want us to know when they behave as “merely” human. They want us to believe their status makes them exalted, while almost everyone assumes they are beneath snakes in the grass. This notion to lie has been so universal in government from the beginning of time that we can think of it in Darwinian terms, as an instinct.
Under despotism governments for centuries had never really cared what the people thought, and they’ve resented having to fake it with hypocrisy (“as the price vice pays to virtue“- Montesquieu) the past 250 years all because America came onto the world scene in 1787, and made ‘the people” a virtue, instead of a property. Since the 18th C French authoritarian regimes have had to call themselves “republiks” or sprinkle all sorts of patronizing “democratic language” (pearls among swine) in their public pronouncements just to shadow dance before world opinion, just to pretend to be “like America”.
And they don’t like this one bit, for America had taught people the power of instilling fear in government.
For 240 years fear has served as the greatest inhibitor of public lying in America, and from it a kind of security among American citizens has arisen that we could take our governments at their word., on the theory that they wouldn’t dare lie. And until recently, it has largely worked. Check your own state’s history to see how recently governors, mayors, legislators and congressmen were thrown out of office for the simplest little bald-faced lie.
Now I won’t say that Bill Clinton changed all that, but in the past 25 years at least, public lying has gotten a little out of hand. Clinton made lying fashionable, and excusable. He was even praised in the media for having been an “extraordinarily good liar.” I see a certain irony in the fact that Alison Grimes, Bill Clinton’s endorsee to take the senate seat away from Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, cannot use the one sure-fire winner against McConnell, that Mitch was instrumental in Clinton’s acquittal in the Senate trial after he was impeached, because Mitch saw no “high crime” with Clinton lying under oath. McConnell’s not very popular in Kentucky and voters may just race to vote against him once their memories have been jogged about his stand for Clinton-the-liar, but Grimes had to work hard to get Clinton’s endorsement, probably begging on her knees, so cannot afford to blow off his sponsorship at this late date. He’s right up there next to Homey and Mother Nature when it comes to being fooled.
Clinton will still get his in the end, but with the public acceptability of lying (and Satan) won big time at his impeachment trial, for it has been all the rage since.
And it may be the death of us yet, for once again we stand athwart an Enemy that wants to destroy us, only now we have a government that does not want us to even believe that threat exists, but also wants us to believe that they are capable of managing it. (No really, Obama used “managing” only today.)
What a freer and more skeptical public from another era in America would have foreseen, and we did not, was that public lying, once out of the barn, could not be limited to indiscretions with pretty girls. Once a government can lie with a straight face and get away with it, as has become so common today (IRS, Benghazi, Fast & Furious) coming from a Rogues’ Gallery of exalted names on brass plaques all over government office buildings in Washington, and becoming a daily litany of lies that pile up like a compost heap, not just Obama, Hillary and Holder, but Jay and Josh, and the Brunhilda twins over at State…
…it should have been obvious that government would also become less competent. The ability to get away with it breeds indifference and carelessness, and I have yet to see the A-list any Clinton or Obama appointee ever sat on in the first place.
It was a giant intelligence failure that gave us 9-11 in the first place, built upon Jamie Gorelick’s wall of separation, itself built upon the idiot-savant lawyer policy that we could throw lawyers with briefcases at the threat of terrorism. It’s not just that the policy was wrong, but that the Clinton Administration was entirely not up to the task of ever making it work. Allowing the Clinton team to plan against terrorism was, ironically, no different than letting Mohammed Atta have his first in-air training flight in the cockpit of Boeing 767, Flight 11 out of Boston, that morning of September 11… only in every respect, Atta had the better plan and the better execution.
Lesson learned? Well apparently not many, for no sooner than George W Bush decimated 95% of Al Qaeda, and neutralized the threat of jihadist using WMD’s from Saddam’s stockpile, and even threw in a new Arab democracy to boot, we started believing government again, so were easy to convince the threat was gone (before it was) , the war over (before it was), so we brought our troops home, over the objections of the experts, and in full agreement with new Obama A-team, who it turns out made the Clinton Keystone Cops look like the ’62 Yankees.
Now that lies no longer matter, now that competence no longer matters, (I won’t even get into honor) and the president of the United States, the closest thing to a C-student in high government since Eugene V Debs ran for president while in prison, has proclaimed himself the sole repository of truth in America, we have watched America’s ability to even execute a simple fire drill at an elementary school without screwing it up fall short. Obamacare wasn’t just a theft of Americans’ freedom to choose, it was a public mugging with a chokehold. And while Wanted poster of the perp are all over the place, he goes around in broad daylight painting moustaches on them.
When government and politicians no longer fear the people, this is what you get. We have come to a crucible in America.
We now are told 11 jetliners have gone missing from Tripoli in Libya. Just think of them as really big bombs with pilots. Jihadists have taken to beheading Americans “over there” and promise to bring that show to America, “over here”, playing at a theater near, well, soon.
As we follow these stories develop in coming days (9-11 is just a week away), and are told our only hope is to rely on the competence of our intelligence sources, as edited and reported by the White House, suddenly we have to stop, look down at our feet and watch the sand start to shift beneath them, for we can trust nothing they say…not only because they will lie, just to save their behinds politically, but because we an no longer trust their ability to find their ass with their hat.
So, give fear a chance, for without it, you can kiss you hat goodbye.