When I was little, my imaginary friend was Casper the ghost. Most of the time, blaming him for some minor thing in the house was just passed over, which didn’t happen much because we were terrified of our dad. We tended to keep to ourselves and not make waves. Sometime when I was 4 or 5, we were ‘holding’ a piano for a friend while they moved. It was fun to play with the piano, trying to make music or pretending to be performing in a great hall. So when if found a new thing to play, I was all over it, but it wasn’t music. I had found a little metal rod and tried to play the keys with this little rod. It didn’t move the keys, but it put a really cool, perfectly round, half circle chip on the edge of the ivory key. Wow, that was neat, would it do it again? It did. On every single key, some twice.
When mom saw the piano, she pretty much knew, but did the whole parent thing. Who did this? I stood there and blamed my sister. Nope, that didn’t fly. Well, my brother could take the fall, he would have thought of it anyway. Boy, did he get in trouble . . . until mom figured out it wasn’t him. She stood me in front of the piano again, asked who did it. Well, since she still hasn’t figured it out (my little 5 year old mind reasoned) I’d blame Casper. Needless to say, that sealed my fate. I have no recollection of what happened after that, but I was busted.
That was my lesson on lying. My lesson on ‘fessing up. My lesson on being accountable. I may be an optimist and idealistic, but I would like to think everyone had that moment at one point or another while growing up. I know that some, after getting away with said lie, felt empowered to try again. We grow older and learn that a lie is not a lie, that they are not all the same. Some are beneficial, some self-serving, some small, some devastating.
So, unlike George Washington, we have all lied, and will most likely do it again. But when does a lie become bad? When does it stop being small? At what point do you recant and come out with the truth? When, as an observer, do you call bullshit?
In U.S. politics, the word doesn’t exist, lie. Somehow, no one in U.S. politics ever gets busted for lying, even if they are caught it is just put aside. They are all initially treated like a white lie, like the lie you tell someone about their food. You tell them it tastes good, even though it is so vile you wouldn’t give it to your worst enemy, but telling the truth serves no purpose other than hurting their feelings and potentially stopping them from cooking again. Unless they are poisoning people, then the nice little white lie doesn’t make the earth implode.
We have become so complacent with the word vomit that spouts out of the mouths of politicians, we only become outraged if the act itself is discovered, not the lie. The only thing in recent memory where the lie apparently was worse than the act was Bill Clinton. The fact is, the man cheated on his wife. Not a crime, hell, really shouldn’t have been the huge public circus that it became. If you cheated on your partner and all of a sudden your job demanded you publicly address the accusation, most people would lie and try to distance themselves from it in hopes that your marriage (relationship) wouldn’t be effected. There have been plenty of bigger things lied about in government than a blow job, and most of the time . . . NOTHING HAPPENS.
The problem with that is most of those lies effect policy. They impact voting. They take us to war. They make the government less reputable. They insult their voters. When we lie as children, it’s the lie we get in trouble for, not for breaking the glass. When you take responsibility, it’s not all rainbows and fluff, but the punishment is dialed down. Why are we allowing these ‘public servants’ to not only do a really shitty job, but lie with a straight face and become indignant when we don’t buy it.
There need to be repercussions for lying. They need to be called out. The media needs to push back on lies, especially blatant misrepresentation of the facts. These people need to face perjury charges, they need to be removed from committees or even office, they need to answer to the public that they lied and why, what are they going to do to rectify the situation.
Trump and his unending blabber of erroneous lies is not funny. They are not trump being trump, just saying what he thinks. No, he is impacting policy, opinion, our government. He needs to stop being handled with kid gloves and forced to answer for any lie he has or will tell. Opinion is one thing, but accusing Obama of wire tapping then sending your page boy out to say it wasn’t a lie, it was a generalization is not acceptable. When he mis-states facts and numbers, he needs to be confronted with the actual numbers and demand that he state his source. Claiming during the campaign that the unemployment rate was 25, 30, even 45% (total fabrication). There can’t be allowance of pick and choose statistics just because they are unfavorable to the narrative. If he cannot back it up, he must publicly recant / correct the statement.
I would love to see a week of the press coming together and agreeing to call the White House out on one item, and don’t let them speak about anything except one topic until either they show tangible proof or admit it was a lie. Just pick one. Hammer it home. Don’t let them off. Every day, hour, press conference. Every interview, every tweet, every statement drill in the fact that the White House is lying. Call it what it is and don’t let it be anything less (alternative facts, really?). Don’t let the sources be, ‘I heard it from people’ or ‘we read the numbers in a report’. Could you imagine Spicer trying to avoid answering a question that the entire press corps kept asking him? Forcing Kelly Ann Conway to answer questions with a yes or no, not her bizarre blather that makes no sense and leaves her not answering anything.
Every time they are allowed to lie, and not confronted one to one, they are like the kid that got away with it the the first time. ‘Well, it worked before and nothing happened, I can do that again’. We need to shove it right back in their face, collectively, the moment it happens and not let it go. I’m tired of it, aren’t you?