Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Lies are not only damaging, they're contagious

   


     Et tu, Barack?
     I was biting my lip, trying not to criticize the president in his final weeks. What would be the point? He's history, toast, riding off into the sunset for his date with a postage stamp. Yes, after the 2016 election he reverted to the same Spock-like, over-intellectual passivity he glided in on, nodding pleasantly the way people do in nightmares in the face of imminent danger, as his successor rears out of the swamp of American psychosis and names his misfit Cabinet.
     But Obama must know what he's doing, right? A wily politician to the end. Just as during the 2008 election he knew that one flash of temper would paint him as an Angry Black Man, he sought to maintain whatever slight influence he might have on the Trumpian entity by welcoming it into the White House with grace. At least then Donald Trump might see what grace looks like. Hoping to mitigate the disaster, Obama kept his lip zipped while the scaffolding of our national humiliation is erected.
     Then, talking to David Axelrod for his podcast, Obama blurted out that he would have beat Trump: "I'm confident that if I, if I had run again and articulated it, I think I could've mobilized a majority of the American people to rally behind it."
     Obama's boast is meaningless on several levels. In no particular order: a) he couldn't run again; b) a majority of the American people don't vote at all; c) Hillary Clinton did win most of the votes the American people cast among the candidates and she still lost; and d) Trump has already cornered the market on preening, unwarranted confidence in one's own ability.


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8 comments:

  1. When I saw Obama's comment or rather Trump's riposte, I immediately thought it was "fake news" similar to the nonsense appearing now on Face Book that all living presidents plan to "insult" the presidency by to "snubbing" Trump's crowning -- they just can't give up their victimhood. Now that the President has indeed made the boast, he can't very well unsay it. But in truth it probably doesn't matter much. The right can't see any good in Barack Obama and the rest of us can forgive him for responding in kind to Trump's braggadocio. To a certain extent, the election did pit him or at least his ideas and history against the guy who's going to "drain the swamp," but Hillary was further hampered by the unspoken misogyny still prevalent among many Americans, even among many American women.

    john

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  2. Considering that we seem to be in for a sizeable helping of mendacity served up in the form of mindless rants intended to provoke rather than enlighten, I will miss the "Spock-like, over-intellectual passivity."

    Tom Evans

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    1. Me too. And Obama's boast is harmless, at least by the standards of the puerile childishness that is Donald Trump.

      Bitter Scribe

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  3. I thought Obama made the remark just to piss the Donald off. I don't follow him, but I assume Trump posted his usual Twitter crap in response.

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  4. Weird today, Neil. Your headline and start refer to Obama lying. Where's the lie? If Obama said he could beat Trump at Scrabble would that be a "lie"? Impossible to prove since they'll never play, but impossible to prove either way. Your approach seems scarily Mona Charen-like.


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    1. Perhaps "boast" is better than lie. Obama is claiming he'd beat Trump, when in reality nobody could ever know.

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    2. You certainly have earned the benefit of the doubt, but it's difficult to even see his statement as a boast or a blurting out: "I'm confident that if I, if I had run again and articulated it, I think I could've mobilized a majority of the American people to rally behind it." Parsing it, I get he's confident that he thinks he would have convinced a majority to vote for him. Which pretty much is what he thought in 2008 and 2012, and which pretty much every person who has run for President has thought. I see a difference between his being confident he could win and actually claiming he would win -- you may not. I don't think he did the latter, you do. But either way, that's not really boasting. It's definitely not "unwarranted confidence in one's own ability" -- the man successfully ran for President twice! Who better to be confident in one's ability to be elected President? You've got him, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton as the only living two-term Presidents!

      It seems that you had good points to make about the ease of lying, heard something in Obama's conversation that pushed it forward, but once written out, the connection between Obama doing something tied to the larger topic is pretty tenuous.

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  5. Maybe Pres. Obama would have done better than Hillary if he could have. She had a lot of baggage, was out of touch and was seen as old hat. One isn't misogynistic just because they don't like her. Sure she's better than Trump but it would seem many didn't feel she kept the average Joe & Jane in mind. The DNC games didn't help either. Would Bernie have beaten Trump? Perhaps not but he was a breath of fresh air and not bogged down with Wall St. ties. It's one thing for Republicans to have them, but not for a Democrat.

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