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Voters don’t care about dishonesty  

In history, National News, Opinion, Politics on May 11, 2015 at 11:33 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOA recent Associated Press poll found that only four in ten Democrats would describe Hillary Rodham Clinton, the liberals’ leading presidential hopeful, as “honest.” The data also indicated that about the same number see her as uninspiring and not especially, “likeable.”

As the AP article reported on May 1, 2015, “Americans appear to be suspicious of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s honesty, and even many Democrats are only lukewarm about her presidential candidacy, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.”

Yet, it’s still likely these uninspired voters will likely pull a lever next to her name through the primaries and on to the 2016 ticket. Doesn’t the voting public care whether or not a president is honest? The short answer is, no.

Regardless of whether they call themselves Democrat, Republican or Independent, many voters would describe the phrase, “honest politician” as a contradiction in terms. Unless they are a tireless idealist or go through life wearing blinders and ear plugs most people have come to expect politicians to be dishonest to some extent.

Presidents "swear" an oath then spend a good part of their term lying.

Presidents “swear” an oath then spend a good part of their term lying.

The reality is that Americans have made an unconscious decision that all political lies are not created equal. A lie to the media or the public in the interest of national security is generally accepted. For example, President Kennedy hid the fact that he ended the Cuban missile crisis by making a deal with Khrushchev for U.S. missile removal from Turkey. Was it a lie or something the public simply didn’t need to know? Is a political lie of omission still wrong?

Other types of political lies can have more sinister grounds. In the 1980s, President Reagan mislead the country about his involvement in the Iran Contra affair, the secret arrangement to supply arms to Nicaraguan contra rebels using profits generated by selling weapons to Iran. And does Watergate even need a mention here?

This kind of dishonesty is certainly not limited to the executive branch. The level of deceit and back-door dealing that likely takes place on Capitol Hill would stagger the imagination. But, if dishonestly is a hot-button issue against Hillary Clinton during the upcoming primaries, the GOP certainly has no room to play innocent.

George W. Bush, for example, was largely regarded as most dishonest, not about what he had already done, but in an effort to persuade the public to go along with what he had yet to do. Can anyone say, “W.M.D.?” Still, he was re-elected, as were so many of the biggest liars to ever sit behind the Resolute Desk.

Looking back, it seems that some of the deepest deceptions appear to have come from presidents who served more than one term. From FDR to Bill Clinton, and now Barack Obama, the longer they serve, the more lies they tell.

It’s clearer than ever that a large part of the voting public couldn’t care less about a presidential candidate’s honesty. Oddly, it seems like the higher the office, the more dishonesty is tolerated. At the ground level, even school board members or the mayoral candidates of the tiniest towns are taken further to task over honesty issues than any presidential candidate. To some, that seems – backwards.

Put very simply, “Laws (and governments) are like sausages. You don’t want to see how they’re made.” It’s hard to say who originally uttered those words, but the sentiment is as true today as ever. There is a level of blind eye turned toward some of this behavior just because of an inherent expectation and acceptance.

The modern media plays also into this problem a bit. With instantaneous information, literally at everyone’s fingertips, word spreads before anything can be properly vetted. Rumor and innuendo can rapidly become “Internet fact.” It’s tough for the average person to know the difference between reality and hype without doing some digging.

Regardless of what people might prefer, given the state of American politics, it’s unlikely that any operative would be able to function without mastering some level of deception towards his or her rivals or constituents. It would be refreshing, however, if the voting public demanded more honesty from presidential hopefuls and if even one of them could meet that expectation.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. GLD Enterprises is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at gerydeer.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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