Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire

There are a couple of excellent sources for checking the facts after political speeches and such “major” TV events as the current presidential debates. One of my fellow bloggers even gives a synopsis after the debates so we can see who told the biggest “whoppers.” This raises some interesting issues.

To begin with, both debaters tell falsehoods and half-truths and do so repeatedly. As one reads the fact checks one notes that while the facts have been checked before a number of the falsehoods are repeated even though the deception has been pointed out, perhaps several times. Strange. But more to the point is the obvious consideration that the average listener has no way to tell in the course of a debate or a political speech that a lie has been told or a half-truth has suddenly appeared from the politician’s hat. This is why the debates are so untrustworthy and leave us little else to go by except impressions. It really is all about theater — as I noted in yesterday’s blog. Consider the following fact check item:

Romney: It’s “already illegal in this country to have automatic weapons”
The verdict: False
The federal ban on manufacturing some semi-automatic assault weapons that President Clinton signed in 1994 expired in 2004, and wasn’t renewed. There are other regulations and restrictions still in place — the National Firearms Act of 1934, the Gun Control Act of 1968, and the Hughes Amendment in 1986, says Brian Bennett at the Los Angeles Times. But ”fully automatic weapons — guns that fire continuously when the trigger is held down — are legal to possess in the United States.”

How many people listening to a rapid-fire (sorry!) debate will know enough to realize that one of the speakers just told a whopper? And he did so on a vital and controversial issue that many people care deeply about, one way or the other. The matter of gun control is a hot topic and as a general rule very few people who argue with one another in bars about this issue have bothered to gather the evidence and check on their “facts” beforehand. That’s to be expected. But one does not expect this from seasoned debaters like these two politicians. Romney told the lie noted above, but Obama didn’t call him out.

How many people know that the second Constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to bear arms is couched in language that makes it clear that the “right” is tied to a militia that was supposed to make it unnecessary to have a standing army? More to the point, how many people listening to this debate know that the federal ban on semi-automatic weapons was even signed in the first place, or by whom — much less that it expired in 2004? The central question here is whether or not this matters in the least. Will either of these men be asked to make important decisions on their feet? Does the quickness of their minds and a grasp of all relevantl facts really matter when important decisions will be made behind closed doors with well-informed advisers and time to reflect? Of course not. It’s about who presents himself better to the TV audience.

In any case what occurs in these events is that the politicians (all of them) have learned that if you say something with conviction and then repeat it often enough your listeners will accept it as true. The important thing is to have the “ring of conviction” in your voice and look the camera straight in the eye (as it were). It matters not whether what you say is true or false. No one “out there” knows what the hell you are talking about — and very few will bother to check the facts later on. So just let it go and let the (buffalo) chips fall where they may. Truth be damned: it’s all about getting elected!

11 thoughts on “Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire

  1. Since all the news outlets are owned outright by huge multinational corporations isn’t it foolish to think that they would “permit” a person to be elected president who “didn’t” place corporate interest above ALL other interests? They have the power to destroy anybody. To think they wouldn’t use it makes no sense. That is what power is for.

    Poor little old PBS must be eliminated because it is only 90% controlled. Besides, more than two actors just confuses the audience. It’s The “Corporate States of America” and it has been for many years now. “Truth” is a manufactured product. When, or, if the people realize their freedom is illusionary everything is already in place. Corporate prisons and laws that permit people who “think” they have rights to be “disappeared”. Guns will be no more useful than Teddy Bears.

  2. It’s not what one knows, its what one appears to know. Same goes for facts. The more assured you appear while telling your whopper over and over, the more people will believe you. its the grander message these guys are selling, not the details, and thats why all of us should be skeptical of anything these politicians say about anything. Personally, if either one told me it was light outside at 12 noon, I think I’d like to look out the window to verify.

  3. One of our dear friends is the poster child for the average GOP voter. She does not watch news and gets her news from people she feels are in the know who support her preconceived notions. The people she gleans information from get their information from the network which shall not be named. My friend is very strident in her views. We do not talk politics, so she just assumed I felt the same as she does as I live in a heavy GOP area. I floored her the other day when I shared who I was voting for when she asked. She could not believe anyone could support the President based on her information. She gave me every GOP talking point, which I said I do not find that to be true. It was like we were talking two different languages. To Hugh’s point which he consistently makes, when the lie or embellishment is said enough, it becomes the fact. What is one of the key lines at the end of “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.” “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” We are printing the legend. Great post, BTG

  4. I’ll bet when you typed the title to this post, you suspected that I would snicker. I certainly snickered, and I couldn’t open this one fast enough to savor the content! Of course I loved it and appreciated all of the facts that you presented!

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