Thursday, October 14, 2010

Did Obama Lie?

A few years ago, Democrats succeeded in branding George Bush a liar.

But, when George Bush claimed that Saddam had WMDs, was he really lying? Or was he misinformed?

If you believe that Bush knew that there were no WMDs, and that he was intending to deceive the public, then you can say that he was lying.

If he was misinformed, and if he held the same misinformed belief that most Congressional Democrats also held, then he was not lying.

If the latter is true, then the Democrats and their supporters were lying when they said that Bush lied. Hmm.

Give them credit for their success. As any propaganda minister will tell you, the more you repeat a lie the more it gets accepted as gospel truth.

Now, will the press and the pundits and the political class apply the same standards to President Obama?

When Obama was trying to sell his stimulus bill in 2009, he declared that the money would be used for “shovel-ready projects.” The phrase was repeated so often, by so many of the bill’s supporters, that it became the bill's mantra.

This Sunday the New York Times Magazine, in an extensive and exhaustive report on Obama’s “education,” will report that: “He realized too late that 'there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects' when it comes to public works.” Link here.

Now he tells us. Does this mean that Obama was lying when he said that all of these infrastructure projects were ready to go, waiting for a little monetary stimulus?

Did Obama know that his stimulus bill was not going to rebuild America’s decaying infrastructure?

Did he lie or was he misinformed?

The difference lies in his intention. But how to you know what was in his mind? We aren’t mind readers, after all.

If Obama did not know the truth about shovel-ready projects, then he did not know what was in the stimulus bill. I imagine that that is a possibility, albeit a remote one.

In fact, pro-Obama commentators noted at the time that there was very little spending for shovel-ready projects. Take the contemporaneous discussion between Chris Matthews and Jim Cramer in late January, 2009. Link here.

They were remarking, in surprised tones, that of the approximately $800 billion in stimulus spending, only three or so percent of the money was dedicated to infrastructure projects… to bridges, tunnels, roads, and other public construction projects.

That makes it far less likely that Obama did not know. But, if Obama also knew the truth, why would he have sold the bill, and risked his prestige, on an outright lie?

Did he imagine that once the economy recovered, no one would much care? Or, is he merely a creature of political expediency?

Surely, Obama should give thanks that no one is judging him according to the standards that were used to label George Bush a liar.

I am also compelled to note that the Times article is entitled: “The Education of President Obama."

Happily, this title echoes a theme that I posted about yesterday. The best defense the Times can find for Obama’s first two years is to say that he is receiving an education in the White House.

If so, it is saying that he is teachable, but that he is not coachable.

This is hardly encouraging.

It’s like a person who has been chosen to play for a championship, in golf perhaps. Unfortunately, that he does not really know how to play the game.

As he ends a predictably bad first nine holes, his defenders try to console us with the thought that he has been receiving an education in golf, thus, that he is learning to play the game.

As Bob Schieffer told David Axelrod last Sunday, on a different issue: “… is that the best you can do?”


David Foster said...

"like a person who has been chosen to play for a championship, in golf perhaps. Unfortunately, that he does not really know how to play the game"

The analogy is too kind, because golf is not a matter of life and death. Obama is like someone who once flew an airplane--a Cessna 152, let's say--around the pattern, on a sunny day, with an instructor beside him, and decided that he was qualified to fly a 747, with passengers, in bad weather.

Only in our current case, the "passengers" are at a lot more risk than the "pilot."

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Your point is well taken. I stand corrected.

It's one of the few times I've been accused of being too kind.

By The Sword said...

I'll be the first to admit that I believe that President Obama is a liar and an inexperienced leader, but are you seriously trying to excuse George W Bush from starting the unnecessary and costly (not just in money but in human lives, both American and foreign) war in Iraq?

Even if it were an honest mistake it is still a mark of extreme incompetence if not cold-blooded evil to condemn one's nation to six years of warfare based on a hunch.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Actually, I was trying to avoid the question of the wisdom of the Iraq war.

I was trying to say that if Bush believed, honestly, that all of the world intelligence estimates about Saddam's WMDs were correct, as every world leader and Congressional leader who had examined the intelligence believed, then it is simply wrong to say that he lied.

I am not sure why, under those circumstances, and given the conclusions reached by the intelligence services, you would call it a "hunch?"

The Ghost said...

talk about a Teachable Moment ...

and a Lesson Unlearned ...

The Ghost said...

remember by the sword ...
Congress voted Yes ...

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Dr. Schniederman, et al.
RE: Say 'What'?

Did Obama Lie? -- Stuart Schniederman

Better ask...

Is the Pope a 'kraut'?


[If his mouth is moving, he's lying. -- Rush Limbaugh, about a previous Democrat president]

P.S. This one is so much worse.....

Stuart Schneiderman said...

But, if it is so obvious, to most of us at least, that Obama simply lied about the shovel-ready projects, why is no one else saying so.

People are noting the disjunction between his words and the truth, but without using the word "lie."

At least the Times understood the problem and tried to cover for him by saying that he learned too late that there were no such things as shovel-ready projects.

I hope that's not too naive a question.

Cane Caldo said...

The Radical Left--whose doctrines define almost all the Left now--believe the ends justify the means. Just ask them: they'll tell you it doesn't matter whether Bush lied, or was misled. They start from the premise that everything Bush ever said was at the very least a ruse. Conversely, if Obama lied, it was only because he had to if we were ever going to take our medicine. He's the "Compassionate Physician"; which you can find here, halfway down.

Marsh said...

Good question, Stuart.

Could it be that everyone knows he lies, so stating so would be equivalent to stating water is wet?

BTW: David Brooks is now saying Obama told him he knew that shovel ready projects were BS a YEAR AGO.