Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Great Exaggerator

Former president Ronald Reagan was given the moniker, “The Great Communicator,” due to his prowess in debates, speeches and addresses. Before the House of Representatives passed a partisan "resolution of disapproval" under the pretense of civility, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) explicitly attempted to assign the current sitting president a similar communication-inspired title. Yet, during former president George W. Bush’s tenure in office, Democrats frequently called him names without admonishment. As example, in a 2004 interview with Tim Russert, Heny Reid (D-NV) confirmed that he said, "President Bush is a liar." Reid never received any discipline for the remark, nor did he ever apologize. Of course, he was not on the Senate floor at the time – apparently making it okay to say it on national television – unlike Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) three years later, who was on the House floor when he repeatedly called out Bush as a liar:
All told, the situation seems slightly hypocritical. After all, the president himself conveyed a similar attitude toward those opposed to his health care reform in the very speech that prompted Wilson’s outburst. He was just more subtle about it:  

"Some of people's concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost…that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens…It is a lie, plain and simple."

No one can be naïve enough to believe lies are not part and parcel in politics, particularly when politicians try to push their agendas. Obviously, it helps when the media is your personal public relations firm. An example among many, MSNBC’s David Shuster propagated this laughable nugget:  "You look at the image of the Republican Party, all white males with short haircuts. They look sort of angry. No women, no minorities, and it looks like they've sort of become unhinged." No women? No minorities? Apparently, Shuster needs to re-examine the Republican rolls, failing to remember Sarah Palin, who is very much a woman, running as the vice-presidential candidate last November and Michael Steele, who is a black man, heading the party that nominated her.

President Obama himself is guilty of similar "exaggerations." Take his claims concerning the deficit, when he said, "Part of the reason I faced a trillion dollar deficit when I walked in the door of the White House is because too many initiatives over the last decade were not paid for – from the Iraq War to tax breaks for the wealthy." The only problem is that when he took office the deficit was half that amount, at just under $500 billion. Prophetically, however, the deficit has in fact grown to over a trillion dollars, thanks in large part to his economic policies. With his proposed health care “reforms,” it stands to be even worse by the time his successor walks in the door.

Regardless of Wilson’s rebuke, analyzed the main points of Obama’s healthcare speech to Congress. They found that three out of four were, at the very least, overstated. Whether that makes him a liar is debatable, but it certainly confirms him as a politician. As such, a more appropriate designation for President Obama might be as “The Great Exaggerator."

©2009 Steve Sagarra

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