The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Thursday, July 01, 2004

The truth about the lying liars

No doubt that the debate on the veracity of pols and journos has now penetrated beyond the self-selecting circles of practitioners and kibitzers to a more general public.

And it seems that the general stance of the public has shifted towards disbelief over the last year or two - thanks, I suspect, in no little measure, to Bush and the grotesque absurdity of the phantom WMD.

Though bought at a high and unnecessary piece - the wretched Iraq invasion - this movement towards adulthood on the part of the US electorate is undoubtedly to be welcomed. Parti pris Panglosses can't be expected to like it.

Marie Cocco (I kid you not!) is having conniptions: after mentioning the recent polling on the credibility of Bush and Kerry, she wails
we are again left to ponder the premise that all politicians are liars or crooks or at the least, connivers. Here is the unsatisfying truth: Many are. Many aren't.


Certainly, politicians strive to avoid outright, checkable lies. But only because lesser forms of the manipulation of truth serve their purposes just as well. The media game - elements of which I've been attempting to discern (through a glass darkly simply isn't in it!) - allows an administration to mould the message received the public so effectively that crude lies may usually be avoided.

And pols don't usually steal from the public purse - though they may provide lucrative contracts to friends who may repay the favour by campaign contributions. Or, after the pol's retirement, by jobs.

(In fact, the country might do better to give its pols a percentage off the top of tax revenues, rather than be saddled with billion dollar white elephants - the defense industry is the worst - that produce a few million in contributions for the pols who vote the expenditure through.)

But connivers? They're all connivers, surely! The industry demands it.

Pollyanna Cocco goes on
The caricature is a corrosive force in American politics. It bolsters a belief that no amount of political activism makes a difference. It feeds our most destructive national habit - staying away from the voting booth.

Really? There must be research on the reasons given by non-voters for their non-voting - is that the main one? Or one of the main ones?

Why doesn't Cocco refer us to the research? With the resources of Newsday, she's far better placed than Joe Public to track the stuff down. Could it be that she's pulled the idea from her ass?

She does say
Frankly, most presidents lie about something.

And cites Johnson, Nixon, Reagan and Clinton for Vietnam, Vietnam and Watergate, Iran-Contra and Monica Lewinsky respectively. As if, in ever other respect, these presidents had been the very George Washington model of veracity!

Cynicism is good. The more the better. What is bad is when cynicism about one politician or system leads to ga-ga worship of another - the horrors of fascism and communism.

Treat all those impostors just the same - that's the way to do it!

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