ALLAN JEFFERYS: Yes, You Can Trust Politicians -- to Lie
When we were tiny tots, our parents impressed us constantly with the need for always telling the truth. Lies were sins, they hammered home; and liars were doomed to severe punishment.
There were times, however, when we sidestepped that message to avoid punishment, which in those days was corporal as often as not. We pretended innocence when cookies disappeared from a cookie jar and pointed at somebody else when confronted with an accusation of teasing our sister.
There were also times when we caught our own parents in lies. And we learned the value of the "white" lie when confronted by a wife who wanted to know if this dress made her look fat, or a boss who asked if his tie was in good taste. Opening cans of worms was always to be avoided, even if a lie was needed.
This is not meant to condone lies; it is simply a way to explain them and point out that some (like the examples cited above) are somewhat harmless.
But not all are harmless. If the salesman points to the car you are contemplating and says a little old lady drove it only once a week, whereas, in truth, it was drag-raced and in big accidents, trouble is just around the corner. Another hazard is that one lie tends to lead to another until, finally, it is too late for truth. That is how many marriages end.
To me, the worst lies are those perpetrated by politicians, for these harm our nation, our well-being and our future. Regrettably, they are the most prevalent. Today, politicians accuse each other of being disingenuous. What ever happened to telling it like it is? They're not being disingenuous; they're outright lying. It is even more regrettable that we let them get away with it.
This is especially true in the case of the president of the United States. Nixon: "I am not a crook." Clinton: "I did not have sex with that woman." George H.W. Bush: "Read my Lips." Obama: Too many to list, beginning with pre-campaign promises and then campaign reassurances and finally presidential proclamations.
Presidents are not the only liars we tolerate. Congress comes in for more than its fair share of blatant untruths. After they have been in office for a few terms, the lies come trippingly off the tongue, accompanied by sly shuffle-in-the-dirt grins designed to disarm us. Too often, it works. (One more reason for term limits.) The lies are there for simple reasonseither to get something sneaky passed, or to get re-elected.
The latest example of sneaky lies can be found in those advocating a rush to pass a health plan filled with longwinded arcane language too vague and complex for anyone to read, let alone understand. This, in spite of President Obama's insistence that transparency was to be the keynote of his presidency and that no bill should be rushed through without the public getting a chance to study it at length.
If ever a bill belied those words, this is it. And this is why we should demand of our representatives that it be rethought and reworded or flat-out rejected. The health plan as it now stands is a disaster waiting to happen. This nation cannot afford it.
The government health planners have declared that we are doomed unless we hurriedly accept their devious bill. They assure us that it will mean everyone will be covered by health insurance that will be paid for by the top 1 percent of the earners and, thus, not affect the pocketbooks of us average Americans.
They promise us (with straight faces) that we can choose our own doctors and select our own tests with no interference from puckered-lipped bureaucrats. They guarantee that a 50-year-old and a 75-year-old will have an equal chance of getting a new hip.
Personally, I don't believe one word of that drivel.
Allan Jefferys, a former New York theater critic and newsman, lives in Pinehurst. Contact him at oldjeff@embarqmail. com.
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