Within the first few minutes of the second presidential debate, Obama said "not true" more times than Lance Armstrong, Mark McGwire and Baghdad Bob — combined.
Sure beats talking about the economy.
President Obama scored a big victory over Mitt Romney with this week's cover story in Time magazine: "Who is Telling the Truth?" How is this a victory for Obama? The silliness of sending out surrogates to call Romney a "liar" has become a Big Media Issue in 2012.
Breaking news: Almost all politicians obfuscate, sometimes shading or altering positions as political winds shift and even completely changing positions. Sometimes they admit changing positions (Obama on gay marriage). Sometimes they change while denying any change (Romney initially asserting that RomneyCare could and should be a "model" the federal government "can learn from").
Time magazine asks, for example, did Romney tell the truth when he accused Obama of saying that "if Congress approved his plan to borrow nearly a trillion dollars, he would hold unemployment below 8 percent." No, that's "misleading," Time tells us. "Obama never said that, but before he took office, two of his economists predicted that a large stimulus might have that effect."
OK, Obama himself never said that, but he has acknowledged his top economic advisors did. The statement therefore reflected the goals and expectations of the Obama administration. Is it "misleading" to say "Obama said" — as opposed to "his top economic advisors predicted"?
How many times did the "Bush Lied, People Died" crowd accuse "Bush" or "the Bush administration" of warning about a "mushroom cloud"? Bush never said that. The speaker was then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. Is it a "lie" to say that those words were "said" by Bush? Or was the Rice statement a reflection of the administration's view that Iraq represented — to use Bush's actual words — a "grave and gathering danger"?
Where was truth-busting, fact-checking Time magazine during one of the most scurrilous attacks on a sitting president — that President George W. Bush "lied" us into the Iraq War?
Accusers included Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who voted for the war, then turned against it, saying the Bush administration "intentionally misled the country into war." Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., shamefully called Bush "a loser" and "a liar." He apologized for the loser part, but allowed "liar" to stand. The late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., said, "Week after week after week we were told lie after lie after lie." These are party leaders — not a couple of beer-guzzlers holding up hand-painted signs at an Occupy rally in Zuccotti Park.
Now, what about the word "liar" — and Vice President Joe Biden?
During his only debate, Biden denied voting for the "two wars on a credit card" (Obama's words) that supposedly contributed to the recession. Biden said: "And, by the way, they talk about this Great Recession if it fell out of the sky, like, 'Oh, my goodness, where did it come from?' It came from this man voting to put two wars on a credit card, to at the same time put a prescription drug benefit on the credit card, a trillion-dollar tax cut for the very wealthy. I was there. I voted against them (emphasis added). I said, no, we can't afford that."
Biden voted for the authorization for both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. About Iraq, Biden said in 2002, "If we wait for the danger to become clear, it could be too late," and, "We must be clear with the American people that we are committing to Iraq for the long haul; not just the day after, but the decade after."
Can we call liberal pundits "liars" when they claim the idea for an individual mandate came from the conservative Heritage Foundation?
Stuart Butler, Heritage's director of the Center for Policy Innovation, recently wrote: "Is the individual mandate at the heart of 'ObamaCare' a conservative idea? Is it constitutional? And was it invented at The Heritage Foundation? In a word, no. ... And make no mistake: Heritage and I actively oppose the individual mandate (emphasis added). ... The confusion arises from the fact that 20 years ago, I held the view that as a technical matter, some form of requirement to purchase insurance was needed in a near-universal insurance market to avoid massive instability. ... My idea was hardly new. Heritage did not invent the individual mandate."
The dictionary describes a "liar" as someone who intends to deceive. But to paraphrase economist Thomas Sowell, today the word "liar" means a conservative who is winning an argument with a liberal.
Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit www.LarryElder.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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