The other day I got involved in a Facebook exchange about the Presidential campaign in general, which was triggered by a discussion of the October 3, 2012 debate between the President and Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
I asserted that one of the explanations I’ve heard for President Obama’s unimpressive performance that night was that he was frustrated – possibly even angry – by Mitt Romney’s exuberant and repetitive lies. In fact, I said he was spewing lies.
The person I was “talking” with told me she thought the words “spewing” and “lies” are loaded and designed to “fan the flames” of negative, unproductive rhetoric when used in this way.
It didn’t take much thought on my part to agree that the word “spewing” has definite negative power that evokes an image of someone doing something rather disgusting. I could have said “telling lies” instead and gotten my point across. So, I gave her that one.
I remember as a child being taught never to accuse my sister (or anyone else) of “lying.” I could say she was “fibbing.” I could say “she is not telling the truth.” I could say she “isn’t telling you the whole story.” But I could not call her a liar.
Euphemistically speaking, What the Heck?
So, culturally, there has long been a tendency in America to soften the accusation of misrepresenting the truth with intent to deceive or mislead. Did palliating the accusation change the facts of the matter at hand? Not one bit. I could have called it roller skating and she still would have been lying.
My Facebook friend went on to explain that calling a high-ranking Mormon such as Romney a liar is as grievous as calling him a drunk. To which I thought, uh-huh…and?
Mormons do not have a corner on the preference among religions to observe all Ten of the Commandments. If Barack Obama makes an assertion of something known or believed by him to be untrue with the intent to deceive or mislead the public, he is just as busted in the eyes of God as Romney would be.
In my own simple set of priorities when it comes to human interaction, the very worse thing a loved one can do is lie to me. I taught my son as a child that nothing he could do that was wrong could be worse than lying to me about it.
So, no, I don’t apply the words “lie,” “lies,” “lying,” “lied,” or “liar” lightly at all.
There is no way Mitt Romney could have been mistaken, misinformed or misspeaking when he asserted during that October 3 debate that “he did not plan to cut taxes for the wealthy.” If he had only said it once, perhaps even I might take into consideration a brief cranial short-circuit and give him the benefit of the doubt. But he said it more than once – with escalating gusto.
MR. ROMNEY: Let me — let me repeat — let me repeat what I said — (inaudible). I'm not in favor of a $5 trillion tax cut. That's not my plan. My plan is not to put in place any tax cut that will add to the deficit. That's point one. So you may keep referring to it as a $5 trillion tax cut, but that's not my plan.
I don’t care how high in what church Mr. Romney has ascended, that assertion is a lie.
His supporters want to argue that it is “just a difference in interpretation of numbers” – that Mr. Romney was simply splitting hairs because the $5 trillion figure doesn’t take into account the expected growth in the economy that the cut on tax rates for businesses would ignite. (We are back to trickling down) However, that is NOT what Romney said.
Let’s say he was being creative with his choice of words. “My plan is not to put in place any tax cut that will add to the deficit.” You and I are supposed to parse that statement ourselves to reach the conclusion that while he IS planning to cut taxes by $5 trillion, he is also planning to close tax loopholes and tax deductions to balance the cuts. When the projected growth in the economy is taken into account, there will be a net zero change to the deficit. Oh, yeah, and you are also supposed to know of his plan to increase the defense budget by some $2 trillion, so those loopholes and canceled deductions had better be pretty much wiped out.
For a compelling argument as to why the Romney plan is not even almost possible, read this.
The politicians and pundits who find it necessary to substitute nonsense such as “less than truthful," “somewhat untrue,” “fast and loose with the facts” for the word “lie” are simply playing the political game. Their euphemisms change nothing and buy nothing except favor with the party prevaricators.
A lie is a lie.