By Jim Kempton
Second term administrations seem ripe for political scandal. Obama is accused of having IRS officials look into whether Tea Party organizations were actually “social services organizations.” Not only is the current administration under fire for that, they are also defending phone tapping and Benghazi as well. Republicans charge that Obama lied about the attacks at the Libyan Embassy.
“Obama scandal is worse than Watergate!” the message screams. “Obama’s lying. “It’s all his fault!”
These sound bites fly across the news screens attempting even more outlandish statements than the ones made about the Bush administration. You might remember the allegations back then: “Bush is lying! The war is a mess! Katrina’s a mess! The deficit’s a mess! It’s all W’s fault!”
In modern America we have to have someone to blame and the fault might as well be the President’s.
Now I don’t put much stock in political hyperbole these days, but I think they are missing the point on this one. It was not all Bush’s fault, actually—it was his dads. Remember “Read my lips?” But perhaps it’s more Clinton’s fault. He said he “never had sex with that woman.” Maybe it was Jack Kennedy’s fault—he said he wasn’t having sex with Marilyn Monroe.
It could have been Reagan’s fault—he promised we never traded weapons for hostages, or gave the money illegally to the terrorists in Nicaragua. But I think it was more Johnson’s fault—he said he wouldn’t escalate in Vietnam. But then Nixon promised to end the war, and six years later he was promising he was “not a crook.”
Harry Truman should really be blamed. He said he wouldn’t get us into the Korean War. More likely it was Ike’s fault—he said Gary Powers’ U2 spy plane wasn’t really a spy plane—after it was shot down taking military pictures over Russia. The best one to blame might be FDR who told us he knew nothing about the plans Japan had to attack us—but actually he did.
Do you see a trend here?
If not, then you are probably still shocked about Obama, the way others were shocked upon hearing about W’s claim about Iraq when we never found “weapons of mass destruction.”
But then this penchant for “misspeaking” goes way back right to the founding fathers. Our second president, the pious John Adams could be to blame—he told us that speaking out against the government should be a crime because it was wrong to criticize officials—and he made sedition laws to enforce it.
Perhaps our first president is most to blame. He is credited with the yarn about chopping down the cherry tree, which ended with “Father, I cannot tell a lie.”
Evidence has shown however that the whole tale was bogus from the start. This is even more hilarious since the lie was an anecdote about not telling lies.
Anyway, if you want to look up any of these lies you can find them most anywhere—including the Library of Congress. And if you find no humor in all this, blame me—it’s all my fault.
Jim Kempton is the author of Surfing, the Advanced Manual a book about surfing pros’ secrets to improve surfing performance. He hopes you will buy the book so his children can go to college and never have to run for President.
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