Likable Liar

The majority of Americans now see Bush as dishonest. But 2/3 of respondents also describe him as “strong and likable.” So according to the Venn Diagram, somewhere out there is a sizable group of people who find our president a likable liar. How patriotic.

Music: Stereolab :: Contronatura

13 Replies to “Likable Liar”

  1. mnep, absolutely. I see where you’re going with this, but it’s hardly comparable. Sorry for the cliche, but when Clinton lied, no one died. And Clinton wasn’t a chronic liar, either.

  2. Heh – comment page Goooooooogle advertisement:

    President George W Bush
    Free to Join. 1000’s of pictures of Beautiful Republican Singles

    Can you hear the whammy bar?

    No Clinton related advertisement… or is there? Maybe the beautiful singles is a stealth reference… a Bush-Clinton mash.

  3. Sorry for the cliche, but when Clinton lied, no one died. And Clinton wasn’t a chronic liar, either.

    Lying to the American people is lying to the American people. Period. You are either honest or dishonest.

    Clinton is a proven liar. It may be Bush talked about WMDs in giood faith (although I doubt it). But the fact remains that of Clinton and Bush, the only one who is proven to have sat in front of the American people and deliberately lied to our faces is Clinton. Trying to mitigate that just looks foolish.

    By saying “nobody died when Clinton lied,” you create your own Venn diagram and start saying that some kinds of lying from our elected leaders is perfectly OK. Slippery slope, my friend. Very slippery slope.

  4. Slippery slope yes, but the fact of the matter is that extra-marital issues are best handled within the family – not in the public sphere. Impeachable offense? Puh-leeze.

    Just turning the mirror back on all the jackass neo-con hypocrites. I would say lying to move the country into war (and other stuff) is worthy of impeachment…

    Just my $0.02.

  5. mnep, no argument from me that lying is lying. But I’ll absolutely maintain that lies come in lots of flavors, and that the flavor *does* matter. A lot. As in, some lies result in 10 or 20,000 deaths of innocent civilians while others result in pissed off wives and damaged integrity. Yep, slippery slope, but that’s reality for you.

    If you’re after accuracy, then putting Clinton’s lies on the same level as Bush’s does not get you there.

  6. First, it doesn’t matter if Clinton lied about something that should have been a private matter. He lied. He stood in front of us all and lied. Is an extramarital affair an impeachable offense? No. Is lying under oath? Yes.

    And you’re forgetting the fact that you cannot prove Bush lied about the reasons for the war. We all have our suspicions, but suspicions do not meet the evidentiary litmus test.

    We think Bush lied.

    We know Clinton lied.

    People finding Bush likable is unpatriotic.

    People finding Clinton likable is wholly understandable.

    Do you not see the double standard?

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m no huge Bush fan. But if you’re going to apply a standard, apply it equally.

  7. Fair enough, but let me ask you this: Do you think that if suspicions that Bush lied become proven, there will be a move to impeach? In other words, do you think the media or public will even be interested in impeachment if it’s proven that Bush lied? I don’t. I don’t think the public cares a bit about applying standards equally. In the public mind of the 2000s, a sexual lie/scandal is far more egregious than war on false pretenses.

    And keep in mind that Downing Street is only one of many suspected lies.

  8. The Downing Street Memo’s biggest smoking gun is the phrase:

    Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.

    And even in that Wikipedia article it is admitted that, … the usage of the phrase “were being fixed” in the 5th sentence is a colloquialism meaning “to agree upon”. The author of the memo, Matthew Rycroft, uses this term in a similar way in an e-mail. Link

    The point being, there is very little in the Downing Street Memo that says, “Bush is going to outright lie to the American people.” While the Downing Street Memo is proof of an Iraq war agenda as early as summer 2002, it has yet to be proven as the smoking gun of Presidential deception. Although I will not rule out that it well may come to pass.

    Will the public care if and when it does? Probably not, as you say. But that is of no concern to me. My moral barometer is not set by the majority. I hold myself to my own standards, even if they’re higher than the majority’s (and occasionally when they’re lower ;) ).

    And a President boldly lying to the electorate is contemptible. Be it about stealing a cookie or the commencement of World War 3. There is no kind of Richter scale for it. The truth is the truth, and a lie is a lie. Tell me the truth, or stand down.

    As always, one man’s opinion.

  9. On the subject of whether a lie is a lie, i.e. whether a lie is an absolute or a relative thing, ask yourself about categories of mistruth such as intentional misleading, exaggeration, subterfuge, selecting facts to support a view while ignoring facts that don’t (there should be a word for that habit — I’ll bet the Germans have one :).

    I really do think it’s a mistake to say “a lie is a lie” and leave it at that. Reality is much more complex than most black-and-white views allow.

  10. So according to the Venn Diagram, somewhere out there is a sizable group of people who find our president a likable liar. How patriotic.

    So given that you find admitted lies on the part of national leaders to be no encumbrance to liking them, why exactly does this Venn diagram surprise you?

    No disrespect intended, it’s just strikes me as sublimely ironic.

  11. So given that you find admitted lies on the part of national leaders to be no encumbrance to liking them, why exactly does this Venn diagram surprise you?

    I wouldn’t say “no encumbrance” – I certainly liked Clinton less after the Big Lie. But I thought the lie was minor in a political context compared to matters of national importance, and I still think he was one of the century’s great presidents, not to mention very likable.

    Bush, in contrast, has mislead, distorted, exaggerated and buffooned his way through 1.5 terms and will go down in history as a failure as president.

    But I think the mistake I made in this post is in failing to recognize the fact that when it comes to perception, personal likability is distinct from political success. Bush may be rated likable as a person even if he’s also seen as dishonest. But that doesn’t mean people automatically find liars likable, or that people should automatically stop liking someone known to lie sometimes.

  12. To put it another way, I think the reason you find it “sublimely ironic” that my standards for these two presidents and these two forms of lie are different is that you see all lies as being equivalent, that you feel that a lie is simply a lie.

    To me, the two forms are so vastly different, and they come from such different kinds of people, with such vastly different ramifications for the U.S. and the world, that they’re not even comparable. Therefore, to me, it’s sensible to view them differently, not ironic.

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