Political Lies Will Continue

Last Friday, I was drinking coffee and playing with my pencil when Seymour Sharpe sat down across from me. "So what are you writing now?" he asked.

"I was thinking about Clinton's sexual problems," I said. "Trouble is that I have to turn it in today and he'll testify Monday so my column on Tuesday may seem dated."

It shouldn't," said Seymour. "The usual grand jury leaks won't be too believable until they've been repeated enough times, so you're probably safe until Thursday. So what are you going to say?"

"I dunno," I said. "I'm trying to figure out why the voters aren't too concerned that Clinton lied about his gallivanting."

"Could be several reasons for that," said Seymour. "First off, most people lie to get out of trouble. And we knew Clinton was a liar when we elected him. Remember that, 'I didn't inhale,' garbage?"

"He may have been telling the truth," I said

"He probably was," said Seymour, "and that's an even worse lie. Despite the rumors spread by people getting jobs off the drug war -- the DEA and FBI and 25% of the police force -- peer pressure is not that powerful. Most people passing a joint around offer it to be friendly. If you decline, it's just more smoke for them. They are happy about that. But Clinton and his ilk are like fourth graders who never grew out of the role-defining stage and learned to think for themselves. They can't just say, 'No thanks.' They pretend to inhale, thinking that they're putting others at ease when really they're just putting themselves at ease."

"Lying to themselves, huh? I'll buy that," I said, "but how come Congress won't impeach him even if he lied to a judge and jury?"

Seymour laughed and laughed. I sipped my coffee and waited until he caught his breath and started talking. "People in Congress lie to voters all the time, especially during campaigns. Remember Bush's 'Read my lips?' Or how about Scott McInnis, the Republican from Grand Junction who promised he'd step down after a few terms but now says he's going to run again because seniority matters in the House of Representatives. I didn't see him trying to scrap the archaic rules of order they use that enforce seniority. That stuff's not even in the Constitution."

"Hey, I have an idea," I said. I can talk about two different types of lies. Campaign promises are lies of commission. They say they'll do one thing, but do something different. Then there are the lies of omission where they say they'll uphold the basic rules of the country when they're sworn in. Remember all that IRS bashing? They said we need a taxpayer bill of rights, but all we need is Congress to uphold the existing Bill of Rights. Abolish the Tax Courts and use juries and put the onus of proof on the IRS. But the Congressfolk are more worried about sending money to their home districts to get reelected than about the basic functioning of American democracy."

Seymour shook his head. "They're just people working for other people. Voters claim they're worried about tax reform, but pull the lever for someone delivering money taken from other taxpayers. We all lie to ourselves. Shoot, you probably think of yourself as a columnist even though I'm the one with all the ideas. Give me that paper." He grabbed my notebook and wrote: National government is irrelevant. Think global, act local. Seymour. He handed it back saying, "Column writing, like life, is easy if you focus on the essentials."