January 9, 2017

The Death of Truth

by Hal Gershowitz

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Of Thee I Sing Heading AuthorsTruth is dead…long live the narrative.

We have a very serious and destructive problem in America. Yes, we know, we have many.  But this one is different because it is widely tolerated and, sadly, carefully nurtured by our nation’s leadership regardless of party. Truth has become one of the lowest coins in the realm.  The narrative, carefully conceived, studiously nurtured, and determinedly communicated has, it seems, become the highest coin of the realm.

The concocted narrative takes on meme-like strength as it is transmitted throughout society, gaining momentum, confusing our national comprehension, sullying debate and devaluing the stuff of good judgment and good citizenship. It is the harbinger of divisiveness and it threatens much of what made America great. The lie, skillfully repackaged as the established narrative has become acceptable, even when few are fooled by it.

Early in the Obama Administration, the White House staff warned President Obama not to tell the nation that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) would allow the people to keep their doctor if they liked him or her, and that they could keep their health insurance plan if they liked it. They urged him not to tell Americans that insurance premiums would fall by $2400 during his first term in office. They told him that wouldn’t be true. But the truth didn’t fit the well concocted narrative so the narrative trumped the truth.

Then consider President-Elect Trump’s pronouncement that, “In addition to winning the electoral college in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” Both claims are preposterous.  In fact, in terms of electoral college wins, Trump’s election ranks 46th out of 58 electoral college contests. Nonetheless, a landslide, it seems, comports with his perception of his own popularity, so a landslide it is. Also, there is of course not a scintilla of evidence of any measurable vote fraud, let alone “the millions of people who voted illegally.”

A carefully crafted narrative, repeated ad nausiam by democrats for the past six years is that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced at the beginning of the Obama presidency that his goal (and that of the Republicans) would be to assure that Obama would fail and that he would become a one-term president. President Obama himself stated, “When I first came into office, the head of the Senate Republicans said, ‘my number one priority is making sure president Obama’s a one-term president.”

Democrat Senator Richard Durbin intoned in September of 2012,  “…The senator from Kentucky announced at the beginning, four years ago, exactly what his strategy would be. He said, his number one goal was to make sure that Barack Obama was a one-term president.”

The allegation that McConnell’s stated “from day one” that his goal was to make sure President Obama would be a one-term president has been a democratic drum beat for years.

McConnell’s alleged declaration of war against President Obama has been repeated over and over again.  This past Sunday on CBS’s  Face The Nation, New Jersey Senator Corey Booker was the latest to echo the McConnell narrative saying, “When he, (Obama) came into position when America was in a financial freefall, there was a crisis all over this country, he (McConnell) announced to America that the number one priority he had was keeping President Obama from getting a second term.  That is irresponsible. And that is dangerous.”

Well, McConnell didn’t make that statement when President Obama was first elected to office in 2008.  In fact, it was two years later following the mid-term elections ending the Democrats control of the White House, the House of Representatives and the US Senate.  That was a two-year period when President Obama pretty much stiff-armed the Republicans, intoning that elections have consequences.  We won. You lost. He had used his control of both houses to successfully push through Obamacare without a single Republican vote.

McConnell’s remarks were actually made in an interview with the National Journal on Oct. 23, 2010 — nearly two years after Obama was elected president. The interview took place on the eve the of the midterm elections. McConnell said,The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

When asked if that meant constant confrontation with the President, MConnell responded, “ If he’s willing to meet us halfway on some of the biggest issues, it’s not inappropriate for us to do business with him. McConnell went on to say in that same interview that he does “not want the president to fail” and cooperation was possible “if he’s willing to meet us halfway on some of the biggest issues.” McConnell in fact cited an extension of the Bush tax cuts as an example of where the Republicans and the White House could cooperate — and, in fact, Obama did strike such a deal with Republicans shortly after the midterm elections.

Here is what the liberal Washington Post had to say about the endlessly repeated accusation that McConnell had stated from day one that his goal was to make sure Obama was a one-term President.

There is no doubt that McConnell said he wanted to make Obama a one-term president. But he did not say it at the start of Obama’s term; instead, he made his comments at the midpoint, after Obama had enacted many of his preferred policies. Perhaps, in Obama’s memory, McConnell was always uncooperative. But that does not give him and other Democrats the license to rearrange the chronology to suit the party’s talking points.”

During the presidential election campaign President-Elect Trump stated, repeatedly, that he had opposed the war in Iraq. Yet the only public statement on record was that he, in fact, supported the war in Iraq.  His first public statement expressing his opposition to the war was more than a year after the invasion, when opposition to a war gone badly was rather widespread.

We could go on.  There was President Obama’s assurance that many people had been fired at the Department of Veterans Affairs following 2014 scandal over manipulated wait-time data that contributed to the deaths of veterans. But, in fact at the time the President assured the public that heads had rolled, only one senior executive had been removed.

Hillary Clinton responded to questions about whether she had told the truth to the American people about her use of a private server by stating “Director Comey said my answers were truthful, and what I’ve said is consistent with what I have told the American people.  That, of course, was simply not true.  What Director Comey said was that she had not lied to the FBI. He did not say she had not lied to the American people.

Now we, of course, understand that politicians are not generally known for their candor. But the extent of unrelenting falsehoods uttered by our highest public officials seems, to us, to be unprecedented and, more worrisome, remarkably tolerated by the public. This does not auger well for the future of constructive discourse in America.

As Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Half a truth is often a great lie.”

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3 responses to “The Death of Truth”

  1. Philip Hixon says:

    Hal, about time someone pointed out the lies routinely made by politicians, of both sides. Thank you.

  2. Steve marcus says:

    While I am in full agreement with the premise of your essay most of the “untruths” heretofore seem to have in the nature of puffery, or in statements of someone’s belief about what the future may hold.

    But somehow it’s now different. We are being told by our nation’s highest leader (to be) “don’t listen to what I say, just know what’s in my heart”. Just as elections do have consequences, so do words. If we can’t rely on the use of language to make determinations, what can we rely on?

  3. Jim Borax says:


    Americans were also deceived by the Obama Admin in that the Benghazi attack was a spontaneous uprising caused by an obscure video.
    In fact, Benghazi was a pre-planned attack by radical jihadists. Unfortunately that explanation didn’t fit the admin’s narrative, so instead the public received a deliberate distortion of facts.

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