The era of cynicism

We could go on about administration's lies - but what is the effect?

Lying leaders have always been with us. But it’s doubtful this country has ever seen the brazenness of the Obama administration.

We want to caution young Americans, especially, who haven’t known anything else: The level of lying that is going on today in Washington – and the lack of accountability for it – is neither normal nor acceptable nor inevitable.

Nor does it bode well for this country.

It’s not just the repetitiveness or the nakedness of it that makes this administration’s lying so dangerous to the body politic. It’s also the premeditated nature of it.

Past politicians have lied too, but usually to get out of trouble. Richard Nixon was trying to save his skin and cover up unforgivable misdeeds. Ditto Bill Clinton. Same with congressmen and mayors and other pols who lie to protect their peccadilloes.

In other instances, politicians lie to get elected, because we often don’t want to hear the truth.

This administration does all that, certainly. This president lied about us being able to keep our health care. That tall tale was named whopper of the year by the left-leaning Washington Post. He lied about having health-care debates on CSPAN; about allowing Americans to read bills online before they’re passed; about not issuing signing statements like past presidents; about fixing the Veterans Affairs problem; about consulting with Congress on prisoner releases and more.

But some of the lying in this administration is just strategic – purposeful, premeditated and goal-oriented.

Why fabricate a fairy tale about what happened in Benghazi? Why go on the Sunday talk shows and claim that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl served with “honor and distinction” – when the administration knew darned well he had absconded from his unit into the arms of the Taliban? That, in effect, is trying to create a false mythology around the case.

With regard to the attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, the administration blatantly lied about an Internet video causing it – when, in truth, it was a planned and well-armed al-Qaida-style assault.

When you lie this much, you’re suspect even when you might be telling the truth. So, when the administration magically claimed 8 million Obamacare enrollees earlier this year, it’s possible many Americans just didn’t believe it. How sad.

We could go on about the lies, but they are well-documented. The question is, what is the effect of all that lying?

We fear that this administration is creating an unprecedented climate of cynicism about our government. Let us repeat: We believe it could bring on an unprecedented level of cynicism in this nation.

The media are blamed for a lot of things, but merely passing along these lies, or passing judgment on them, shouldn’t be one of them. No reporters forced anyone in this administration to fake anything.

Indeed, if anything, the news media are under-reporting the administration’s problems.

“There’s a tendency in the news media, on the part of some managers, to censor or block stories that don’t fall in line with the message they want sent to the viewers,” former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson says – diplomatically leaving out that the censoring she encountered was largely to protect the Obama administration.

Americans have always joked about and derided leaders they disagree with. That’s nothing new. But that’s a completely different thing from an acceptance, and even an expectation, that the government will lie to us – chronically, and about the most important things.

The worst part is the lack of accountability. This, more than the lying, leads to toxic cynicism. When you see all this lying, and it goes unpunished and the liars toil on with impunity, it imbues one with a sense of bitterness and hopelessness reminiscent of communist- and dictator-run nations.

President Nixon was forced from office. George H.W. Bush lost re-election in part because he broke his “no new taxes” pledge. But so far, little has happened – other than declining popularity – as a result of the cascade of bald-faced lies roiling out of this White House.

The only thing that has happened is a continued erosion in this administration’s credibility and Americans’ ability to believe anything it says. That risks creating ever-higher levels of cynicism – a contemptuous distrust among the public that this administration is bringing it on itself.

One poll showed 61 percent of Americans believe Mr. Obama lies some or most of the time on important matters.

Skepticism is one thing. It’s healthy. Cynicism is not. And we’re likely to see a new era of cynicism as a result of this administration’s hostile relationship with the truth. That can’t be good for the country. We need leaders we can believe in – or maybe just believe.

“Susan Rice saying to the world that Sgt. Bergdahl served his country with honor?,” Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly asked. “Are you kidding me? And that’s on top of the Benghazi stuff? Is Ambassador Rice a moron?”

Clearly not. But she and others in the administration seem to think we are.

Now that is cynicism.

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