Playing the Lying Game

FOX News GOP Top 10 Debate Cast

There is nothing unusual about telling less than the truth in a political campaign, an art form that seems to be setting a record in the 2016 campaign, breaking the record established in 2012. It was hard to top Romney’s falsehoods, according to some observers, unless you’re counting Obama’s.

By definition, a political campaign is based on not telling the truth. That’s what a “campaign promise” is all about.

There is no shame in not fulfilling promises. It’s a tradition in our politics, as American as apple pie and ice cream, or cheese, if you’re from Wisconsin.

If you don’t make promises that you knowingly can’t fulfill, people are suspicious. What’s wrong with you? Have you no imagination, no dreams of achieving the impossible? Have you not seen “Man of La Mancha,” or whatever code of honor you swear to uphold?

It’s easy telling less than the truth today before a TV audience of 23 million. Candidates no longer blush or otherwise feel diminished when caught in a prevarication, fib, mischaracterization, flub, whopper, lollapalooza, pulling our leg, truth-adverse, or what some people might call “a lie.” Instead of saying “Excuse me,” “I stand, or sit, corrected,” “I must have had too much to drink,” or other favored apologies for having been caught uttering in public a lie, they now blame the media.

Much is being made in the liberal media biased press of catching a candidate in a falsehood by introducing the facts. As we know today, there are two kinds of facts: the facts and the true facts. In this age of Fox News journalism, redundancy is not unwarranted.

Who are you going to believe, the subtext is, me— or the fact-checkers, 47% of whom are either closet Democrats or communists, whichever is worse?

One of the much-maligned candidates in the lying game this season even coined a new expression for a transgression from the straight and narrow. "Such is the naïveté of Dr. Ben Carson, this being his first political campaign, instead of the usual “misspoke” or the mundane “at this point of time …” he broke new ground in the lexicology of truth-aversion handicap by calling the shortcoming a “suspicious lack of intellect,” a condition he has been known to suffer from at this point of time in his career as a front-running presidential candidate. Who can forget his telling us China is involved in Syria?

The latest innovation in the lying game is a candidate lying about the true facts of his own life, which a candidate should know even better than the fact-checkers. One of the practioners in this suspicious lack of intellect, oddly enough, is Doc Carson in researching his life story.

The practice of biothink, or applying the principle of the novel to non-fiction campaign biography began in the first presidential campaign of 1789. George Washington’s posthumorous official campaign biography purported, among other facts, that he never told a lie. As evidence, his biographer cites the case of the cherry tree.

When his father asked, who chopped down his favorite cherry tree, it is writ, young Washington said, “I can not tell a lie, Pater. It was I.” My own investigation as the last living co-author of the General’s (see George Washington’s Expense Account by Gen. George Washington & Marvin Kitman, PFC [Ret.]) found he may have actually said. “I can not tell a lie, Pater. It was my best friend, Sambo, a young unpaid employee on our plantation.”

My research may not be any less accurate than that of official campaign biographer Parson Weems, who concocted many possibly apocryphal iconic facts such as the founding father throwing a silver dollar across the Potomac or Rappahannock. With an arm like that the Washington Senators could have used him in the bullpen.

In Doc Carson’s case, however, he actually made up the stories about himself, a subject he knew well.

To his credit, the best pediatric neurosurgeon ever to be leading in the polls for the Republican nomination did not claim to have been born in a log cabin. Space limitations prevent me from addressing other veracity issues. Suffice it to say, my favorite lollapalooza was the virtual military career he had as a plebe at West Point. If he had taken the appointment that wasn’t offered him, he then would be more qualified to serve his country as surgeon-general than president.

Doc Carson is not the only one telling tall- tales. The leader in the race to become prevaricator–in-chief IMO is the man who owns more golf courses than any other candidate. Donald Trump began the lying race by claiming we should vote for him because he is rich and so smart because he went to Wharton. As he demanded of the president’s birth certificate, I’d like to see his Wharton report card, judging by his three bankruptcies and nine failed business with his name attached.

A visionary in making immigration an issue, Trump has accused the president of being insane for reminding us we are a nation of immigrants. He never thinks of himself in that mental condition for not proudly telling us his mother was a fleeing fishmonger from the tiny island of Lewis in the Scottish Hebrides. And his father’s father was Frederich Drumpf from Bavaria, Germany, an illegal immigrant who jumped ship in New York Harbor in 1884, without whom Trump Towers ruining the West Side of Manhattan would not be possible.

Or how about that Texas rattlesnake, Rafael (Ted) Cruz? The only Canadian- born candidate in the race that questioned the president’s legality based on birthplace, the senator from down under tells us the gripping story about his father who claimed he was fighting with Castro in Cuba before the revolution. People in Cuba who knew papa Rafael, fact-checkers found, refer to him as a “wishful thinker”(Ojalateros), a kid who wrote on the walls but didn’t lead a revolution as a rebel.

Carly tells us we should vote for her because she is such a great corporate executive, despite being voted by business school deans the worst CEO in the history of the computer industry.

Holy Diogenes! I tell you there is so much lying going on it gives me a headache trying to keep track of who is telling the truth in this lieocracy.

Instead of candidates appearing in a debate format that seems more like a reality TV show, it would be a public service if the networks utilized another TV concept, the debate show “To Tell the Truth,” very popular on the so-called “idiot box” from 1956 to 1991.

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Marvin Kitman
November 19, 2015

Marvin Kitman is the author of “The Making of the Preƒident 1789”, HarperCollins, and in paperback, Grove Press, available at Amazon and quality book-sellers.