Lies Political Mafia
A TIDAL WAVE OF POLITICAL LIARS LYING
June 18, 2012
Political liars lie because they're forwarding secret agendas and don't want us to catch on. They also lie because they're tailoring their messages to what they think we want to hear. We know that. Everybody knows that.
But if everybody knows that, why do so many people act as if they don't know it? It's a strange phenomenon.
If you had a friend who talked to you every day in a way you knew was disingenuous, if he said things obviously intended to cater to your opinions and beliefs, at some point wouldn't you hold up your hand and say STOP? It would be maddening, wouldn't it? It would be like eating too much molasses.
Sure, we like to have people agree with us, but there is a limit. There is especially a limit when we know they're pretending to agree with us. There is REALLY a limit when we know they're agreeing with us because they want something from us.
Of course, the "science" of PR makes no distinction between the truth and a lie. PR is based on the notion that you say things only and always to engender the effect you're looking for (while concealing your true intent). And now much of the world runs on PR. That's the engine. This is essentially what campaign advisers are there for: to show their candidates how to lie, how to get away with it, and how to make people like the lies.
The question for a politician is: how well am I lying; not, what am I lying about.
Nixon was a bad liar. He even seemed like a liar when he was saying what he really thought. He was basically trapped in being a liar at the core. He made you think a PR agent had created him whole out of cardboard and glue.
Reagan was a somewhat better liar, but still, when you got past his best moments, he was grossly inept.
Gerald Ford was a surprisingly good liar. He seemed to be a simple fool who actually believed what he said. That's an art.
Jimmy Carter was a good liar and then a not-so-good liar. He had his good days and bad days.
George Bush I was an awkward liar. He was like Nixon in many respects. Put him behind a microphone and everything out of his mouth came across like a lie. Ditto for his son.
Bill Clinton was, all said and done, like Carter. Good days and bad days---until Monica. After that, he was Bubba, the prime Grade A non-stop bullshitter.
Obama, when the high oratory of his early days melted away, played it so close to the vest he entered a neutral zone where what he said carried neither the impression of being true nor false. It was dead fish. Unless you actually listened, and then you heard chains and chains of Chicago-baked prevarications
I'm talking about style here, not content. And style, for these men, is an artifact of PR. "Can I tell a good lie?" "Can I get over?" "Can I make it seem real?"
We've come so far in the cartoon world of political PR that John Q Public tends to judge politicians on the basis of how well they're lying.
"He makes it seem he's telling the truth. I like that. He's doing well."
"He's an intelligent liar. He knows his facts and he can juggle them and manipulate them. That's good."
Then you have liars like Henry Waxman. (I ran against him in 1994 for a Congressional seat.) Waxman is a pretty good liar. He does it with a chip on his shoulder, with some anger, as if he's outraged at his enemies. He can do earnest. Like many other politicians, he can actually keep himself from knowing the kind of truth that would expose himself to himself as a liar. That's an art.
Some of you might remember Everett Dirksen. He served in Congress from 1933 to 1969. He'd still be there if he wasn't dead. Ev was not just a liar, he was a pop star of lying. When he spoke publicly, he was so over the top, with his super-syrupy baritone and his sing-song jive, he made your eyes water. He was like a 50-foot painted cement dinosaur suddenly showing up as you were driving down an empty highway. He was the cartoon of cartoons of American politics, and for that his colleagues named a senate building after him when he died. They sat around like a bunch of snake oil and shoe salesmen and told stories about the great Ev. The press called Ev "The Wizard of Ooze."
Bill Gates is a combination of the old TV puppet Howdy Doody, Donald Duck, and Mad Comics' Alfred E Newman. With real malice aforethought. In recent years, he's slipped into the role of The Great Educator and the technocrat with all the answers for the "brilliant future of planet Earth." Bill's lies come across like much of fake science: earnest, insistent, impatient, authoritative, confident.
The current political system of the United States is built on so many false flags, hidden agendas, crimes, and cover-ups, the intensity and quantity of lies has escalated to keep pace.
In key ways, the coming lie-fest between Obama and Romney falls into neat compartments. On one side, we have the cracker-barrel old fashioned white-bread-crust android Romney. And on the other side, we have the hip knowing forward-looking hero-of-the-downtrodden personable alert utopian Obama. Two fronts, two poses, two roles, two acts, two liars. They're really clones of Globalism.
But they'll play out the drama, and they'll rivet the public attention with the lies they're telling, and more importantly, the way they're telling them.
PR specialists have discovered that people like their lies cooked differently. Some groups want Denny's-type lies. Others want McDonalds or Burger King. Subtle differences. The amount of grease is important. Then there are organic-greens lies. There are home-cooked meat-and-potatoes lies. There are rib-shack lies. There are all sorts of flavorings.
The public is so used to lies-as-lies they become connoisseurs. It's not whether the politician is lying, it's the brand and feel and sensation and attitude of the lies as they fall on the palate.
Some people prefer the Don Rumsfeld approach: "Of course I'm lying, we all are, but I'm giving you my crap straight from the shoulder and I don't care whether or not you believe me." Others like Dick Cheney's attitude: "I can lie until the sun goes down but I have the power to make it stick and there's nothing you can do about it."
On the other side of the aisle, you have Nancy Pelosi: "I lie with anger and outrage and a dismissive twitch. I lie because women need to be able to lie as well as men can. It's a social movement." Or there is Harry Reid: "My lies come out of a hole in the wall at the baseboard where I'm sitting like a mouse. But watch out. I have an army of mice behind me. We look weak, but we can eat up your whole kitchen." Chris Dodd was a guru: "I lie with a blizzard of facts and the hard-nosed experience to back it up. My lies look exactly like the truth, if anyone around here were speaking the truth."
The four-cornered feedback loop among PR-schooled politicians, PR advisers, the press, and the public is so busy that the public is now sitting like panel judges on a show called The Liars Club, deciding which are the best lies and liars. The public is honored to be there.
However, as successive waves of alternative deeper online news and research are drenching the public, the confusion is building. Could the truth really work? Is that possible? If the lies stopped, would the entire economy and political apparatus of the country go down overnight? Are we that entrenched? We're going to find out.
In 1956, author Eugene Burdick, who would go on to write The Ugly American and Fail-Safe, published his first novel, the quickly forgotten The Ninth Wave. Two young friends, Mike and Hank, explore the emerging culture of California. Mike, however, discovers he has a knack for politics, and he quickly graduates up the ladder to boy-genius kingmaker. Using polls and surveys in a unique fashion, pinpointing voters' hopes and fears and hatreds, Mike becomes a supreme and successful election manipulator. His friend Hank, who basically stands for truth and justice, is horrified. He realizes Mike may have to leave this Earth abruptly and violently if America itself is to be saved from The Attack of Public Relations.
We've come a long way, baby, since 1956. The novel's theme seems completely absurd now. Of course political advisers (and their candidates) give up all principles in order to win. Of course polls and surveys are used to prey on voters' emotions. Of course such calculations are the (vampiric) lifeblood of politics. Of course lies and counter-lies cover hidden agendas. Of course politicians are bought and paid for. Of course only the cynical and the venal survive in Washington. Of course the lamp is lit for the winners and doused for the losers. Of course they survey you and then feed you back your own preferences as if they're their preferences, too.
You've got voters who are willing to trudge into rooms and take part in focus groups, where they watch political debates and push buttons to signify their reactions to individual sentences, phrases, single words. Lambs to the slaughter.
All this is business as usual.
But new winds are blowing stronger. People are beginning to think there may be something out there on the far side of all this lying, something we lost and could get back. No, it wouldn't look like Leave it to Beaver, it would look, perhaps, like people do when they're hearing the kind of joke that makes them fall off their chair and roll on the floor. I've often wondered what might happen, if, in the middle of a nationally televised presidential debate, the audience just started howling with laughter at both candidates and couldn't stop.
That would be an interesting beginning, a kickoff, you might say, a spark that lights a fuse that results in an explosion that has nothing to do with terrorism. It would be on the order of a play that opens on Broadway, and by universal acclaim closes down after one night, because it's so absurdly and preposterously pathetic---to which the only response is laughter.
And then, of course, other things would follow. But that would be a start: Romney and Obama, two clowns trying to act straight, two chronic hypocrites and liars peddling their sop and crap and shell game and fake differences, rushing offstage to escape the massive waves of laughter pouring over them, as the panicked networks cut to commercials for floor wax and Lipitor.
You Ron Paul delegates attending the GOP convention in Tampa? Don't try to sink a plank in the Republican platform, don't sit on your hands, don't fidget, don't boo, do something real. If your heads are on straight and you're looking at the scene for what it really is, you WILL start LAUGHING at Romney, without even trying. Give your Democrat counterparts something to think about, when Obama begins yapping in Charlotte about the economy coming back strong and his great vision for a better tomorrow and how much help he needs in the fourth quarter as he's trying to get free to sink the three-pointer at the buzzer.
Obama and Romney are both laughing up their sleeves at us. I think it's time we return the favor. With a vengeance.
As HL Mencken wrote, "One horse-laugh is worth ten thousand syllogisms. It is not only more effective; it is also vastly more intelligent."
The author of an explosive new collection, THE MATRIX REVEALED, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world.