When Politicians Lie

Whether it's to reconcile the conflicts between expectations and reality, or to justify the unjustifiable, all politicians lie; it's the nature of their work. The public knows this, indeed, many citizens take pleasure in spotting their leaders as they lie. In most cases, their body language gives them away. Richard Nixon would blink quickly. Jimmy Carter smiled. (In his own mind, Ronald Reagan never lied-- hence no cues.) Clinton bites his lower lip. The problem with political body language is it can't be read in print. You have to be watching to catch them fibbing. That's why Newt Gingrich's verbal tic is so handy. Every time he says "frankly" you know some kind of lie is coming. And Nexus records every one. Either he's stretching to cover up some naked weakness in his argument, or he's praying that, "to tell you the truth," this will make you believe him on faith. The antidote: just substitute "I'm lying now." And "quite frankly" means "I'm really lying." As in:*On how well the Republican candidates for president are doing: "The odds are [I'm lying now] better than even."*On his lack of presidential ambitions: "I think that, [I'm lying now], we now see coming out of Florida three contenders who are very solid people, very capable of being president, and I can work very comfortably with any of the three."*On the unpopularity of his budget proposals: "In the long run people are going to say the Republican Congress produced the first balanced budget in a generation. And I think, [I'm lying now], as those facts come out, we'll do fine."*On his handling of the government shutdown: "The American people can judge who's doing the hard work of governing and who's, [I'm really lying now], playing destructive games."*On his book and his contributions to public discourse: "It is, [I'm lying now], disheartening to see the level of disinformation that passes for news in this country."*On Gail Sheehy's Vanity Fair profile, which reported his infidelities: "Every person I know who likes me, who talked with Gail Sheehy, [I'm lying now], resents having done so because she so systematically manipulated and was so totally dishonest in the article."*On Republican race-baiting: "There are a lot of folks who are very concerned we'll send a message of being insensitive to or hostile to minorities who are trying to rise. I think that would be, [I'm lying now], tragic."*On his regret at calling the Clintons "counter-cultural McGovern-niks" and "enemies" of normal people: "It was a [I'm lying now} foolish thing to do.On the other hand, sometimes Gingrich frankly means what he says, especially if he's making a behind-closed-doors statement not meant for public consumption. As in his warning to lobbyists a few weeks before the Republicans swept to power in Congress. "What we've said to all the PACs and, frankly, to their donors is that this is the year. For anybody who's not on board now, it's going to be the coldest years in Washington." As the cascade of cash into Republican coffers has shown, for once, he was telling the truth.

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