I watched ten minutes of the Republican debates last week. That’s up from two minutes for the first one. I have heard other bits and pieces through the week. If I think about them too long, I start to feel vaguely ill. I also feel definitely scared.
I tried to concentrate on the positive — Trump wants to tax the very wealthy, Carson thinks the minimum wage should be indexed to inflation. But there was too much other crap overshadowing that.
How did they lie to us? Let me see…
Both Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina lied about their records. Christie claimed he was named U.S. attorney the day after 9/11; in fact his selection was announced in December of 2011. Fiorina claimed to have presided over huge revenue growth while at Hewlett-Packard — anyone familiar with the industry knows Fiorina’s tenure at HP is considered a massive failure.
The most breathtaking lie, at least on a personal level, was when Donald Trump claimed he knew lots of people who had had their kids vaccinated, only for them to develop autism. Ben Carson then pushed back, stating that the scientific evidence showed that vaccines do not cause autism, but then he went on to state that pediatricians had come to recognize that too many vaccines were too close together, and were opting to space the vaccines out or reduce their number. This lie was so audacious that Politifact rated it “Pants On Fire.”
I have a high standard for “lying.” I usually require intent — mere error is not enough. But these are smart people, with staffs and speechwriters to vet everything they say. So either the Republican candidates were out and out lying, or showing such recklessness as to the actual truth as to not make a difference.
People expect politicians to shade the truth, and to spin. I don’t think the much of the American public expects politicians to out and out lie to us. Which means there will be yet more parents refusing to vaccinate their children. More people arguing to shut down Planned Parenthood. More people supporting trickle-down economics which have failed to protect the working and middle class in the past.
“Making shit up” should automatically disqualify you from the Presidency.*
Where is the press in all of this? Why weren’t the candidates challenged? Are they ill-prepared? Are they cowed? Do they honestly believe that objectivity requires them to present “all sides” uncritically without fact-checking them?
I would say that none of these clowns has a chance, but then I said that about George W. Bush. All of them make Mitt Romney look like a reasonable choice. I suppose if push came to shove Jeb would be the least dangerous as President; or maybe Marco Rubio. Anyone else…
It’s going to be a long and scary primary season.
*Yes, before you say so, I know all candidates do a little bit. But the audacity and recklessness shown by the Republican candidates is absolutely breathtaking.