Sydney M. Williams
Thought of the Day
“Fibbing & Lying – Carson & Hillary”
November 16, 2015
Ben Carson is the Left’s nightmare. He is smart, articulate, accomplished, humble and respectful. Growing up in a broken home and in deep poverty in inner-city Detroit, he broke the constraints of race and environment to become a world-renowned surgeon. He is religious. Politically, he is conservative. But the reason the Left detests him is because he is African-American. In their condescension toward Dr. Carson, the Left shows their racist side. The man does not adhere to the narrative the Left sells – that an African-American can only be successful with the aid and sponsorship of the state.
As Carson’s poll numbers have grown, so have the attempts to belittle his character. Supercilious soundbites by TV commentators on CNN and CNBC, and off-the-cuff statements from his competitors, especially the voluble Donald Trump who uses pugnacity when knowledge is called for, have attempted to marginalize this exceptional man. The media has denigrated his character and questioned his judgment. A patronizing Richard Cohen compared his candidacy to that of Pat Paulsen, the comedian who ran for President in 1968. On Sunday, November 7th The New York Times ran an article by Michael Barbaro titled “Candidates Stick to Script, if Not the Truth.” The article devoted five times as much space to Republicans as to Democrats. And, of the space devoted to Democrats, only 15% was devoted to Hillary Clinton, with most of the rest spent on her errant husband. Presumably this is why Mr. Cohen found the article “useful.” It did no damage to his team.
What prompted this essay has been the shrill silliness of the charges lodged against Ben Carson, and the display of schadenfreude that accompany the Left’s accusations. For those who watch, listen to and read only the liberal media, Dr. Carson is a man who is a tad slow about history, was angry as a youth and has lied about his past. It is claimed he believed the pyramids were built to store grain, that he tried to knife another youngster and that he had been offered a “scholarship” to West Point, an academy free to those chosen to attend. What is not noted is that when he commented about the pyramids a smile crossed his face. Was he angry as a pre or early teen? That doesn’t seem improbable given the circumstances of his youth. And it is ignored that when a senior at Detroit’s Southwestern High School, Ben Carson was the cadet colonel of the school’s junior ROTC program and a straight A student. It is also known that he never applied to West Point, but had he there is every reason to believe that a young black man who received a full scholarship to Yale would likely have been accepted at the USMA.
All politicians lie, as do we all. Sir Malcolm Bruce, former deputy leader of Britain’s Liberal Democrats, once said: “If every MP who lied had to leave politics the Commons would now be empty.” What is true in England is so in the U.S. It is said that politicians lie because the public doesn’t want to hear the truth. Certainly, there is some validity to that allegation. But, there are fibs and there are lies. We have all lied at one time or another. Most of the time it is to avoid the unpleasantness that truth can reveal, not to inflict pain, manipulate or defraud. I can understand Bill Clinton lying about his sexual adventures in the White House. ‘White’ lies may be wrong, but they do little harm. They are trivial. However, not to be outdone by Ben Carson’s story of West Point, on Veteran’s Day Hillary Clinton repeated her story about being rejected by the Marine Corps in 1975. Does that seem likely? Hillary was infamous as an anti-War demonstrator and she was married in October of that year. The Washington Post gave the story two Pinocchio’s! Hillary’s fib about being under sniper fire when she landed at Tuzla in Bosnia in 1996 was obviously told to make her appear more dashing in the 2008 primaries. By itself, the comment was silly and was easily shown as a fabrication. But, in apologizing for her misstatement she showed her distain and her arrogance: “So, I made a mistake. It shows I am human.”
We can understand why all politicians feel it necessary to embellish their biographies, and most stories fall under the category of fibs, not lies. In contrast, outright lies are meant to deceive. Mrs. Clinton has told many tall tales, many harmless, but taken together they show a flawed character: Chelsea was not jogging around the World Trade Center on 9/11, as Hillary once told first responders. She was born six years before Sir Edmund Hillary became the first person to climb Everest; so she would not have been named for him, as she once said. She and Bill were not “dead broke” when they left the White House after trashing it in January 2001. While all of these fabrications speak to the individual, none would qualify as calumny. But her lies about Benghazi and her e-mails are another matter.
She deliberately lied, in a televised speech at Andrews Airbase, when she told the families of those killed in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 that the cause of death was a YouTube video offensive to Islam. It was slanderous and, in my opinion, makes her unqualified to serve anywhere in government, let alone as President. (Her lies and deceptions, and those of the Administration of which she was a part, about the proliferation of theocratic Islamism came sharply into focus last week with the attacks in Paris that left 129 dead.) Mrs. Clinton’s e-mails show that immediately after the Benghazi attack she privately told Egypt’s Prime Minister and her daughter that the attack was premeditated and carried out by Islamic terrorists; yet in public she blamed the attack on a video. We have never been told why she lied, or why U.S. UN Ambassador Susan Rice was told to go on the Sunday talk shows to perpetuate that story. The Administration allowed that lie to persist for the next couple of weeks. It makes no difference whether the reason to lie originated at the White House or within her own mind, it was wrong and speaks volumes about the type of person she is. What we do know is that President Obama was in a tight re-election race and that part of his narrative was that Osama bin Laden was dead, Iraq was liberated, that the war in Afghanistan was winding down and that al Qaeda had been decimated. Connecting the dots is not rocket science.
Running for public office inevitably includes exaggerations, distortions, innuendos and misstatements. As partisans, we hear what we want to hear. As voters, we are skeptical of promises and listen to life stories with a grain of salt. We read candidates’ autobiographies with an understanding they are a white-washed, fictionalized version of their real story. Unfortunately, too much of the media have become advocates, rather than disinterested observers, analysts and reporters. And, keep in mind, polarization breeds polarization. The more you, unequivocally, defend your favorite, the more I defend mine. But, as citizens with a stake in this nation, we must slice through the murk that enshrouds each candidate and try to understand what principals drive them.
Dr. Carson may not be the best candidate. (My preference, at this point, is Marco Rubio.) Does his (Carson’s) experience qualify him for the job of President? Does he have the right policy prescriptions to address the needs of the country? Will he keep us safe? Is his network of experts sufficient to effectively manage the executive branch of government? I don’t know. But his character and integrity are not an issue. On the other hand, Mrs. Clinton may be qualified for the Presidency if one bases the decision solely on experience. But her judgment, noted in her willingness to go along with Mr. Obama’s appeasement strategy toward theocratic Islamism, her character, reflected in the lies she has repeatedly told, and the contempt in which she holds those whose opinions differ from hers suggest she is not deserving of the office.
I, for one, would always rather bet on judgment and character than experience.