Mark Twain said, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” And of course, politicians know that. So some of them use that truism to push a lie that will help them hoping that when, if ever, the truth is told, it will be moot. It is all about establishing a narrative and making it last long enough to benefit them.
The internet has made that ploy a lot more difficult. But that doesn’t mean the they don’t continue to try. Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post awards Obama’s latest falsehood their highest, or lowest depending on how you look at it, rating – four Pinocchio’s. Kessler describes that rating with a single word: “Whoppers”.
The lies have to do with decrepit bridges and, of course, Republicans. The great healer, the man who promised to change the way politics was practiced in Washington, falsely attacked his opposition – again:
“I sent them a jobs bill that would have put hundreds of thousands of construction workers back to work repairing our roads, our bridges, schools, transit systems, along with saving the jobs of cops and teachers and firefighters, creating a new tax cut for businesses. They said no. I went to the Speaker’s hometown, stood under a bridge that was crumbling. Everybody acknowledges it needs to be rebuilt. Maybe he doesn’t drive anymore. Maybe he doesn’t notice how messed up it was. They still said no. There are bridges between Kentucky and Ohio where some of the key Republican leadership come from, where folks are having to do detours an extra hour, hour-and-a-half drive every day on their commute because these bridges don’t work. They still said no.”
–President Obama, remarks to the Building and Construction Trades Department conference, April 30, 2012
You have to love the little veiled bits of populism he pitches in there – “maybe he doesn’t drive anymore”, as if Obama does.
The point, however, is every bit of that is baloney per Kessler:
Back in September, when President Obama first unveiled his jobs bill, we gave him Three Pinocchios for remarks he made regarding the aging Brent Spence Bridge on the Ohio River. The bridge connects Kentucky and Ohio, the home states of House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and it was irresistible symbolism for the White House.
The crumbling infrastructure of the nation’s bridges is certainly an important issue, but symbolism can only go so far. The administration could never explain what, if anything, the jobs bill would do to improve the Brent Spence Bridge, especially since construction was not slated to start until 2015 — and Obama’s jobs bill would spend most of its money in its first year.
Moreover, there is a long history of bipartisan support for this project, but Obama framed it as if the Republicans were blocking its reconstruction with their opposition to his legislation.
When we heard the president’s words Monday, we feared he was slipping back into his old habits. Once again he framed it as GOP opposition to fixing the Brent Spence Bridge. But then he upped the ante by mentioning other bridges “between Kentucky and Ohio” that “don’t work.” So what’s he talking about?
Of course the three Pinocchios awarded then didn’t slow him down a bit, did it. I’ve always been careful when I use the word “lie” or “liar”, because of the propensity today for people to call mistakes and the like lies. A lie is a knowing falsehood. So, after having this “mistake" pointed out previously (and don’t ever think the White House didn’t see that previous rating), Obama doubles down and throws it out there again. That, my friends, makes it a lie.
When the administration was confronted with the facts of the case, the usual prevarication began:
An administration official said the president was referring to the Sherman Milton Bridge, which actually connects Indiana and Kentucky, near Louisville. Back in September, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) had to shut down the bridge because a 2 ½ inch crack had been discovered.
The bridge carries Interstate 64, so the bridge’s closure forced drivers to make major changes in their driving routes. Shortly after the shutdown, a Transportation Department blog declared that this bridge was “another example of why this [the president’s jobs bill] is so crucial.”
But here’s the rub: While Obama claimed “these bridges don’t work,” the Sherman Milton Bridge has already been repaired, ahead of schedule, and motorists are driving over it again.
But again, the claim is found to be baseless.
It turned out that, rather than being an example of an aging bridge, the crack that had been discovered actually had been there ever since the bridge was constructed in 1962, because of the type of steel used at the time. Other repairs were ordered, and the bridge reopened nearly three months ago — without needing any of Obama’s jobs-bill funds.
Another nearby bridge, the Kennedy Bridge, will soon undergo redecking, but officials said the work will not lead to a shutdown. Again, the work is being done without Obama’s jobs-bill money.
The facts don’t at all support the President’s statement. So what was the purpose of the lie? To cast political opponents in an unfavorable light – the usual purpose of deliberate political lies. And these were deliberate political lies.
Of course you’d think, confronted with the facts, the administration might back down a bit? But instead they apparently thought that doubling down was the best way to go:
“The President was making a point about the need to rebuild our infrastructure and the job creation opportunities that come with that, and was pointing to Ohio River area projects to illustrate the point that these kinds of projects are right in the Congressional Republican leadership’s backyards,” the administration official said.
Yup. And they were being handled by a bi-partisan state level coalition without a dollar of Obama’s “jobs-bill funds”.
Kinda stings, doesn’t it Mr. Obama?
Well done, Mr. President. A record that may be tied but never bested.
One of the unstated questions many of us who have observed the Tea Party ask is how long before it become co-opted by one of the major parties. Because it is mostly a leaderless movement, that may end up being a very unlikely thing. But what about the candidates it backed? We’re told that 5 Senators and about 30 or so representatives were backed by local and regional Tea Parties and won their elections.
One of those was Rand Paul who, as the son of Ron Paul, came off as particularly libertarian in his approach to his job as a Senator from Kentucky. In fact, during his campaign, he made what his campaign web site labeled "Rand’s no-pork pledge":
Rand Paul appreciates Republican Senator Jim DeMint introducing today a one-year ban on earmark spending and a balanced-budget amendment. Rand strongly supports both initiatives and has made them centerpieces of his campaign for limited government, including his signing of the Citizens Against Government Waste “No pork pledge.”
“The Tea Party movement is an effort to get government under control,” Rand said. “I’m running to represent Kentuckians and to dismantle the culture of professional politicians in Washington. Leadership isn’t photo-ops with oversized fake cardboard checks. That kind of thinking is bankrupting our nation. Senator DeMint understands that and has taken action to stop it.”
It was that pledge along with other such promises that saw Paul ride a wave to electoral victory.
However, and it seems in politics today, there’s always a "however", it seems that even before taking office, Paul is having second thoughts about his pledge. Veronique de Rugy at the Corner points us to a quote in a Wall Street Journal article about Rand Paul which is, well, disappointing, to be kind about it:
In a bigger shift from his campaign pledge to end earmarks, he tells me that they are a bad “symbol” of easy spending but that he will fight for Kentucky’s share of earmarks and federal pork, as long as it’s doled out transparently at the committee level and not parachuted in in the dead of night. “I will advocate for Kentucky’s interests,” he says.
Of course there are plenty of ways to "advocate for Kentucky’s interests" without breaking a pledge. That, of course, requires a politician with imagination and the courage of his convictions.
If the quote is accurate, then I have no doubt that Rand Paul will rationalize and justify his way into becoming just another establishment Republican Senator who sells out (in this case, almost immediately) to the “system” in DC. Another in a long line of “go-along-to get-along-old-boy-network” that is within virtual inches of destroying this country.
I have to wonder how the Tea Party movement, which spent so much time, effort and money to get this guy elected feels about this quote? I’ll be interested to hear Paul’s explanation concerning what the WSJ says he said.
But frankly, and assuming he wasn’t misquoted, it’s another indication that much of our political class is a collection of opportunists whose only real quest is the accumulation of personal power. They’ll say whatever it takes to win with no intention of sticking with the principles they claim. While, as Paul says, earmarks are indeed more symbolic that significant, they were significant enough when he was seeking office to take a pledge not to seek them. A pledge voluntarily taken by someone who, as usual, styled himself as “different” and an “outsider” who was going to change the way we do business.
Instead, at the first opportunity, he back-peddles and attempts to rationalize breaking his pledge to “advocate for Kentucky’s interests”.
I hope it’s not true but in reality it appears to be business as usual.