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Time for truth

By
October 11, 2006

For decades, America’s elected public servants have paid great lip service to the grand political principle of hearing and heeding the vox populi.

And for decades, America’s politicians had little trouble doing this. Because in election after election, the voice of the people has been loud and clear: “Please lie to me!”

We’ll eventually get to the fact that all of the latest polls point to the possibility that the vox populi is making sounds that could become big news on Election Day. After decades of look-the-other-way gullibility, voters are fed up with political lies and hypocrites, or at last wising up.

But first, let’s review the decades when the people’s message to their leaders was “Please lie to me!”

In the 1960s, voters bought into Lyndon Johnson’s promise that we could afford both guns and butter _ a war in Vietnam and his “Great Society” war on poverty at home. Also in the 1970s, when Richard Nixon promised we would win the Vietnam War if we kept America’s men fighting and dying there just a few years more.

In the 1980s, voters gave free passes to a Reagan White House that followed the American hostage crisis by giving Iran’s militant ruling ayatollah military weapons, an autographed Bible and even a cake in the shape of a key _ in exchange for Iranian moolah that was secretly slipped to Nicaraguan rebels in violation of U.S. law.

The 1990s, presidentially remembered for those Clintonian lies about sex, also gave us an era of political duplicity symbolized by the poster boy of political liars, an otherwise obscure Republican Washington state congressman, George Nethercutt Jr. In 1994, as the Newt Gingrich revolution swept Republicans into control of Congress, Nethercutt unseated House Speaker Tom Foley by campaigning on term limits and promising he’d serve only three terms. But three terms later, in 2000, Nethercutt decided to run again. “I’m less enamored with the idea of term limitations, and I’m the perfect example of why we don’t need them,” Nethercutt told The Washington Post. Voters he’d lied to re-elected him two more times _ which, come to think of it, makes those 5th Congressional District voters poster persons of the “Please Lie to Me” vox populi.

The new century, of course, continued the political tradition of dishing deceits to accepting voters. We heard untruths that led us into a war in Iraq that may prove impossible to win: unfounded claims about Saddam Hussein’s unfound weapons of mass destruction, and assurances that the Iraq war was being won and the insurgency was in its “last throes.”

What to do about Iraq now is a problem so complex that voters can’t tell who, if anyone, has the right answer. (Sadly, there probably is none.) But then came a scandal that is so simple that we all get it _ and we all can see that our basic values of family, trust and decency have been compromised by House GOP leaders who put staying in power ahead of all other values they once embraced. Former Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., no relation to the ex-speaker, had been preying upon teenage boys who are House pages _ and House GOP leaders knew it but failed to do all they could to stop it. Speaker Dennis Hastert dissembled when asked what he knew and when he knew it.

The good news in this comes in two levels: First, conservative leaders in the private sector have raised their voices to condemn Hastert and the House leadership that has strayed from the solid conservative values, family values and even Christian values they once embraced. Because of this sad sexual scandal _ and also the GOP leadership’s protection of close associates involved in lobbyists’ scandals of money and corruption _ these leaders have called for the speaker to resign.

Now another voice is being heard. New polls all show that the public is finally raising its voice _ louder and stronger than ever before _ against all who have betrayed our trust. Polls of The New York Times/CBS News and The Washington Post/ABC News show Republicans plunging and Democrats gaining in questions about which party should control Congress. They show that people overwhelmingly say Republicans think they are above the law and don’t understand ordinary people’s problems. And President Bush’s approval rating has drooped to a new low, with 60 percent disapproving in the Post/ABC survey.

Those stunning stats may trigger a tsunami of political panic that could sweep from one end of Pennsylvania Avenue to the other. As a last resort, desperate politicians in power may even heed this new vox populi _ and start telling people the truth.

(Martin Schram writes political analysis for Scripps Howard News Service. E-mail him at martin.schram(at)gmail.com.)

20 Responses to Time for truth

  1. Roberto

    October 11, 2006 at 11:35 pm

  2. Phil

    October 11, 2006 at 3:44 pm

    As a last resort, desperate politicians in power may even heed this new vox populi _ and start telling people the truth.

    HAH! When they could launch another war and keep everyone cowering under their beds instead? Don’t make me rupture something laughing.

  3. mick

    October 11, 2006 at 4:44 pm

    Time for Truth,yet the writer makes no mention of 9/11, WTC1993, Bali, US Embassies, Gulf of Tonkin, Northwoods, and many many more false flag operations.

    The writer is from Scripps Howard News Service, that in a poll, carried out for the news service, showed that all US Citizens believe that the Administration were involved with 9/11. Of course the other 2/3rds of US folk who believe the fantasy of the 9/11 Commission are not worthy of the term CITIZEN.

  4. Fred P

    October 11, 2006 at 6:07 pm

    Good article.

    @mick- yes, he missed a lot, but he did have to stop somewhere.

    Personally, I believe in the 9/11 Commission; I think that they really were composed of actual people who wrote a document that they thought was fairly good. I also believe it very unfortunate that their area of review was so constrained that they really couldn’t resolve background issues.

  5. Jackson

    October 11, 2006 at 8:10 pm

    “What to do about Iraq now is a problem so complex that voters can’t tell who, if anyone, has the right answer. (Sadly, there probably is none.)”

    Wow, what crock! The author talks of truth, and yet can’t even handle the truth! There is nothing complex about Iraq and nothing simple about Foleygate. With Iraq America needs to do exactly what it did in Vietnam, get the hell out. The Iraqis like the Vietnamese will be more than capable of fixing yet another American mess. With Foleygate, it’s clear that Congress on both sides of the isle is corrupt and full of bought and sold perverts of various stripes. As long as Americans are as stupid as they are now, cleaning out the Congress, is not going to be easy.

  6. Jamie J

    October 11, 2006 at 8:20 pm

    Fred P.,

    The 9/11 commission’s area of review was “constrained” alright. When your entire agenda is to bamboozle the unsuspecting public in yet another coverup of high level criminality in government, you’re certainly going to be “constrained”! The last thing you’ll want to do is “resolve background issues”. The American public is among the most lied to populations in the world. Unfortunately they continue to be supremely ignorant of this fact.

  7. TruePatriotWarrior

    October 11, 2006 at 8:28 pm

    There is always a tension between the realpolitik and the childish myths Americans hold dear. It is kind of like the hidden tension between slaughtering a hog and seeing your kids happily eat bacon in the morning. The only time Americans get concerned about realpolitik is when there is a depression; they are drafted; or their elected officials are lining their pockets with loot and having unlimited sexual access to minors. This is like getting food poisoning after a baloney sandwich. Time to clean up the slaughter house, in other words.

  8. Citizen of Austin

    October 11, 2006 at 8:38 pm

    “It’s time we asked ourselves if we still know the freedoms intended for us by the Founding Fathers. James Madison said, ‘We base all our experiments on the capacity of mankind for self government.’

    This idea that government was beholden to the people, that it had no other source of power is still the newest, most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man. This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.” A Ronald Reagan Speech

    Was he possibly foreshawdowning our fate? Did Reagan’s political experience enlighten him to the ultimate truth about the failing of Americans to be proactive in protecting their right to participate in managing and perserving a bold form of government unlike no other in history?

  9. Roberto M.

    October 11, 2006 at 10:35 pm

    Citizen of Austin,

    In spite of what the founding fathers intended for this country, neither they, nor anyone else since, has ever been able to teach Americans what our political system is, and how it’s supposed to work. Americans have therefore never had any real political acumen. Without good leaders to tell them what is right and wrong, they’re pretty much lost. The current generation is undoubtedly the most politically inept in U.S. history.

    The U.S. electorate has always operated much like a lynch mob, easily whipped up into a frenzy with the right mix of patriotism and jingoism. The crooks in washington know this better than anyone, and continues to play the mob for the dummies they are.

  10. Jim

    October 11, 2006 at 10:41 pm

    The sad truth is that the opposition offers an option as intolerable as the incumbents. The likes of John Kerry and Hillary Clinton will not inspire the voters. So, what’s wrong? Americans are simultaneously getting fatter and dumber as each generation enters the fray. Are these the final days of “the empire”? But, there are a few good men still in the game, damned few but they are there. The secret to making our system of government work is to keep the congress and the administration split between the two parties. That bottles up either’s ability to do something and God knows the best thing for America is for our government to do less!

  11. Roberto

    October 11, 2006 at 11:35 pm

    Jim,

    For some reason Americans are totally stupid when it comes to political parties. While a necessary evil, parties have proven themselves prone to selling themselves to the highest bidder. They’re inevitably corrupted, and obviously not the answer to what ails our political system. The American system will only work correctly when Americans can break out of the divide and conquer straight jacket they’ve been deliberately manipulated into since the birth of the nation. Whether North vs South, Dem vs GOP, left vs right, or white vs minority, a divided and bickering public will always be too weak and manipulated to watch their own backs. A critical flaw in the U.S. system. Only when Americans realize that their common political interests are far more important than all petty divisions, will they be able to exercise real political power outside of the trap of the “two-party” structure. “A house divided against itself cannot stand”, but a house united against its natural enemies, can. The natural enemies of the American people are the central government, career politicians, and political parties.

  12. Phil

    October 11, 2006 at 3:44 pm

  13. mick

    October 11, 2006 at 4:44 pm

  14. Fred P

    October 11, 2006 at 6:07 pm

  15. Jackson

    October 11, 2006 at 8:10 pm

  16. Jamie J

    October 11, 2006 at 8:20 pm

  17. TruePatriotWarrior

    October 11, 2006 at 8:28 pm

  18. Citizen of Austin

    October 11, 2006 at 8:38 pm

  19. Roberto M.

    October 11, 2006 at 10:35 pm

  20. Jim

    October 11, 2006 at 10:41 pm