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Columns

September 23, 2012

Penalize politicians for lying

The election season is full upon us, which means that for six more weeks we will be subjected to what has become America’s favorite political pastime: Lying. Along with its kissing cousins, exaggerating, misdirecting and willfully misrepresenting the facts.

Candidates for offices, both local and national, will tell us what they think we want to hear. They will make up bad stuff about their opponents and fabricate good stuff about themselves. They will talk about glorious plans and grand financial reforms that couldn’t possibly work.

“I promise to cut the taxes of every person who votes for me.” “With your support, I will control the wind, the rain and the rotation of the moon.” “Why is it that my opponent does not deny drinking the blood of young puppies?”

Republicans claim that President Obama has robbed, raided and gutted Medicare. They know it isn’t true, but they keep repeating it, with no repercussions.

Mitt Romney never meant that “he likes to fire people.” That quote was taken out of context and it’s disingenuous for Democrats to continue saying it. And of course he didn’t really strap the family dog to the top of his car, that would just be … uh, well.

People have come to accept this dishonesty in elections. Politicians, they say with a shrug, have been telling lies to get elected since the beginning of democracy.

Because it has always been that way, however, is a poor reason to let it continue. We don’t condone dishonesty in our children. If one of our kids tells a giant whopper — “The cat really did eat my homework” or “a 7 percent flat tax could eliminate the federal deficit by 2017” — he would be grounded. Why should we hold elected officials to a lesser standard?

It’s gotten to the point that politicians will lie out of habit, about things of no import whatsoever. Why, for instance, would vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan claim to run a marathon in two hours and 50 minutes, when it actually took him more than four hours? Why would Vice President Joe Biden claim to be the bronze medalist in the decathlon at the 1968 Olympics? It’s pathological.

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