Saturday, January 9, 2010

No News Here – Presidential Candidates Lie To Get Elected

You have probably heard the latest flap over the healthcare debate. The media has been pressing President Obama (through his press secretary Robert Gibbs) to keep his campaign promise and allow the Congressional healthcare debate to be televised on C-SPAN. Obama promised this eight times during his campaign to become President (see all eight on video here). He could not have been clearer about avoiding closed-door sessions where “deals” could be made that were not in the interest of the American people.

And yet, once elected, he has absolutely no intention of keeping his promise.

Like the promise that middle-class taxes will not be raised or the one about posting all legislation publicly on the Internet for 48 hours before voting on it, it was a pledge clearly made with only one real objective – to get Obama elected. I actually think Obama is not much worse than any politician who would run for President. In my experience, they all lie to gain their objective – power and self-glory. Lest you think I’m simply an Obama-basher, I’m relatively certain that we would have seen similar actions from McCain. I’ve already gone on record as being frustrated with George W. Bush, who did little to turn our nation from the curse of abortion, even though he had a high popularity rating AND control of both Houses for a time. Rare indeed is the honest politician who would run for this office…and stick to his or her promises once elected.

Commitments and integrity don’t matter. Personal legacy and victory trump everything.

There have been two White House press briefings on this subject this week. Warning – these will probably make you mad. Maybe we need more anger toward our politicians to make a real difference. Here is the transcript from the Tuesday briefing:

QUESTION: C-SPAN television is requesting leaders in Congress to open up the debate to their cameras, and I know this is something that the President talked about on the campaign trail. Is this something that he supports, will be pushing for?

GIBBS: I have not seen that letter. I know the President is going to begin some discussions later today on health care in order to try to iron out the differences that remain between the House and the Senate bill and try to get something hopefully to his desk quite quickly….

Later in that same briefing, a reporter raised the C-Span issue again:

QUESTION: Okay, just lastly, why can't you answer the C-SPAN question --

GIBBS: I did.

QUESTION: You didn't, because you said --

GIBBS: I said I hadn't seen the letter, which I haven't --

QUESTION: do you need to see a letter? I mean, this is something the President said during the campaign and he talked about he wants everything open on C-SPAN --

GIBBS: Dan asked me about the letter and I haven't read the letter.

QUESTION: Well, I'll just ask you about having it on C-SPAN --

GIBBS: I answered Dan's question and I answered this before we left for the break, Keith. The President's number-one priority is getting the differences worked out, getting a bill to the House and the Senate…

QUESTION: There are a lot of reasons not to do it on C-SPAN -- people could showboat. Does he regret making that statement during the campaign?


Now to Wednesday's briefing – with another question from a different reporter:

QUESTION: During the campaign the President on numerous occasions said words to the effect of -- quoting one -- "all of this will be done on C-SPAN in front of the public." Do you agree that the President is breaking an explicit campaign promise?

GIBBS: Chip, we covered this yesterday and I would refer you to yesterday's transcript.

QUESTION: But today is today and --

GIBBS: And the answer that I would give today is similar to the one --

QUESTION: But there was an intervening meeting in which it's been reported that the President pressed the leaders in Congress to take the fast-track approach, to skip the conference committee. Did he do that?

GIBBS: The President wants to get a bill to his desk as quickly as possible.

QUESTION: In spite of the fact that he promised to do this on C-SPAN?

GIBBS: I would refer you to what we talked about in this room yesterday.

QUESTION: But the President in this meeting yesterday --

GIBBS: And I addressed that --

QUESTION: -- pressed for something that's in direct violation of a promise he made during the campaign.

GIBBS: And I addressed that yesterday.

Another reporter took up the questioning:

QUESTION: Well, does the President think it would be more helpful if this process were more transparent, that the American people could see --

GIBBS: Mike, how many stories do you think NBC has done on this?

QUESTION: Speaking for myself --

GIBBS: Just a guess.

QUESTION: That's not the issue. The issue is whether he broke an explicit campaign promise.

GIBBS: So the answer is --

QUESTION: I deal with the information that --

GIBBS: So the answer is hundreds, is that correct?

QUESTION: Right, but that's got nothing to do with it. I deal with the information, however much or little of it, there is. I'm saying would people benefit by having more information?

GIBBS: Have you lacked information in those hundred stories? Do you think you've reported stuff that was inaccurate based on the lack of information?

QUESTION: Democrats ran against the very sort of process that is being employed in this health care --

GIBBS: We had this discussion yesterday. I answered this yesterday. Is there anything --

QUESTION: But the President met with members of Congress in the meantime --

GIBBS: And he'll do so today.

QUESTION: -- and pressed them to --

GIBBS: Do you have another question?

Which, I guess, is a fancy (and lengthy) way to say, “Get lost. We do what we want.” By the way, all three of my children are taking Logic this year in their homeschool studies, and would recognize Gibbs' avoidance technique as the Red Herring fallacy - where a person introduces something irrelevant into an argument and tries to focus only on that.

Here’s the video of this exchange. Gibbs looks very uncomfortable. I hope this story doesn’t die.

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