The biggest liar wins. Whoever tells too many truths loses. The more open and honest the candidates, the more they tumble in the polls. The Republicans had another non-debate last night and everybody did their best to out-lie one another.
My, how the once-proud U.S. political process has fallen.
Can that be true? It sounds so made up. One would think that the issues would matter. Wrong. What about Presidential character or honor? Loser. Does a quick wit count? Not for beans. Surely ones presentation or ability to communicate a calm and steady hand in crisis matters. Nope, the more one says carpet bomb women, children, old, infirm in order to kill a couple of suspected terrorists the better. Trump, Cruz and Carson prove the above daily, and Trump is doing it virtually for free care of the pathetic excuse for a mainstream media that is all about making money, not reporting the truth.
I’m betting that Mr. Peabody is telling Sherman that this was a sad era in American history and to NEVER set the Wayback Machine to 2016; it’s just too sad to re-live.
As I’ve said before, the GOP wants us all to be America, home of the scared shitless. To be brave, to be honest, to be forthright or even fair is to be branded a loser; a libtard; a <gasp> liberal.
Politifact, the Pulitzer Prize–winning fact-checking website run by reporters and editors at The Tampa Bay Times, commits their entire resources to the business of rating political statements for truth. It’s possible to argue that their standards nitpick this item or that. But it’s relatively neutral, and besides, it’s the only service of its kind we’ve got. So let’s go with it as our down and dirty guide.
In its data summary “Fact-checking the 2016 GOP presidential candidates,” Politifact has put the candidates in the order of their popularity and put their statements in six categories:
- Mostly true,
- Half true,
- Mostly false,
- False, and
- Pants on fire.
I took a look and what I saw is pretty much what I expected but it is a crying damn shame that it’s true: The more lies a Republican candidate speaks, the more successful he or she is. If you are competing for the GOP nomination for president, telling the truth is the kiss of death.
Just how bad has it become?
Donald Trump, for example, had 76 claims analyzed. Of those, 58 fell into the bottom half (11 mostly false, 29 false and 18 pants on fire). Thirteen were half true, five mostly true and zero (yes, zero) completely true. Fully three-quarters of what Trump said is rated false…76% to be precise. That’s just sad.
Trump is in first place. Yay Trump. But didn’t we all already know Trump was full of cow pies? Most of his supporters could care less if he’s telling the truth anyway, so of course he’s leading the pack.
Then there’s Sen. Ted Cruz who is now in second place. Even his Republican Senate contemporaries despise him. Just more grist for the GOP voter mill. He has kept his visibility high, and Politifact rated two-thirds of his statements as falsies.
Ben Carson had a higher lying percentage than Trump or Cruz, with 84 percent of his statements falling in the falsehood range and a mere 16 percent leaning toward reality and, like Trump, no statements rated completely true. So why isn’t Carson in first place? It’s because he lied more only as a percentage. Dr. Carson is a sleepy nutcase and just can’t be bothered to talk as much as Cruz or Trump, ergo fewer lies. Politifact analyzed 25 of his statements, giving Trump almost three times as many false statements to work for him.
Nobody else comes even close.
There are Republican candidates who are nearly as truthful as Democrats, and as we see, they’re dead in the water.
Sen. Marco Rubio is at barely 40 percent in the mostly false to pants on fire range. That’s enough to get him noticed, but he can’t get any real traction if 60 percent of what he says has some truth in it.
In the beginning, most political analysts anticipated former Gov. Jeb Bush to be the leading candidate. But he’s been stuck down at 5, 4, 3 percent. Is it because he’s low energy? Possibly, whatever that means. Soft on immigrants? Also a possibility because the typical GOP voter just loves to hate. A bad debater? Not THAT bad. Could it be because people remember his brother? No, everybody knows that George W. is in a class all to himself; even Charles Manson’s family only created one psychopath.
So, what can Bush, Gov. Chris Christie, Gov. John Kasich and Sen. Rand Paul all have in common? Their “liar, liar, pants on fire” ratings are all way down around 30 percent…which is still 30 percent too high for the President of the country for gawd’s sake, but pales in comparison to the front runners.
Their statements are true (or at least have some elements of truth) better than two-thirds of the time. Even that much truthiness — and it’s not really a lot — is the kiss of death for a Republican candidate. It’s got to be at least reversed if they hope to be the Republican candidate apparently; no more than a third can be dominated by factual elements, and a bare minimum of two thirds of what they say must be dominated by fantasy, legend and myth. In plain English, lies.
Is it party specific? Politifact rated Hillary Clinton at 62 percent on the truth side, Sen. Bernie Sanders at 63 percent and former Gov. Martin O’Malley at 75 percent (though saying very little). So yes, it’s party specific.
Does this tell us something about the candidates? Or about the voters? Do liars like to run as Republicans, or do Republicans like to be lied to?
Being that Dems lie to, just not as much, it’s got to be Republican voters. Of course, there are Democrats like that too, who like a good dose of illusion with their politics, but it’s a much smaller minority with a preference for fallacy. They both may be right in a sense, since, as Stephen Colbert said, reality has a liberal bias.
Admittedly, it’s a lot of work to sort it out. I can remember a time when we relied on the media to help us through these elections and they actually reported the truth. They don’t any more. It’s all about the spectacle now. The ad dollars. The controversy. The shock and awe.
Politifact does it, but it’s read only by political junkies. A couple of the 24-hour news networks do it, sometimes, but thinly. And for their effort? They have lousy ratings of course. But nobody does it in such a way that telling lies has negative consequences.
If telling lies has no negative consequences, then lies become equal — even superior — to the truth. This is not merely a moral issue. Truth has value. Lies form the basis for bad actions:
- Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction, and he’s going to use them;
- Cutting taxes for the rich will grow the economy and create wonderful jobs;
- Arm the moderate Syrian rebels, and they’ll defeat ISIL and President Bashar al-Assad too.
So how has it come to be that in America today, lying is the road to political success?
Ignorance is apparently the road to bliss in the Republican Party, with a large side order of hate and fear.
Harvey A. Gold