Politicians will say almost anything to get elected, but exactly when are they lying? Lying is generally defined as knowingly giving false statements or saying things that are not true. The active word here is knowingly. Pretty much everything GOP candidates say about their tax plans for instance, each of which is some version of supply side economics, is not true. Since Ronald Reagan’s ill-fated and brief trickle-down experiment it is public knowledge that cutting taxes for the rich while reducing government spending doesn’t produce jobs and only increases deficits, but as long as there are economists who sing the praises of such policies politicians can claim not to know their detrimental effects. So sometimes politicians can say things that are not true without actually lying, but most of the time the following happens: A politician says something outrageous, often referring to dubious sources, and subsequently that statement is debunked by journalistic fact-checking. Once it has publicly and beyond a shadow of doubt been shown that what that politician said was not true, and he keeps repeating it, he’s telling a lie.
Lying is by no means a prerogative of male politicians. On the Republican side Carly Fiorina is a serial liar, although she’s not very good at it. Her entire record as the chief executive of Hewlett Packard, the high tech company she all but ran into the ground, is public knowledge, but she keeps denying that her tenure there was a disaster. More damaging are the lies Fiorina keeps telling about Planned Parenthood. In spite of proof that a video she claims to have seen was doctored, and that events it depicted never took place as shown, she keeps repeating her line about a baby ‘its heart beating, its legs kicking’ of which the parts were harvested to be sold. The deranged drifter who killed three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado last Friday was heard mumbling something about baby parts, and could easily have been inspired by Fiorina. The Governors who are running often proclaim imaginary policy accomplishments in their state and a popularity they can only wish for, although some of them probably are genuinely delusional in that respect, while Senators tend to embellish their family history.
But the biggest liar of all is Trump. He started his campaign by saying that Mexico sends rapists and drug dealers across the border, and from there it has been downhill. Recently Trump tweeted crime statistics that would show that 81% of white murder victims were killed by blacks, while the real number is 15%. Then he outdid himself by declaring that he had seen thousands of Muslims in Jersey City cheering as the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center came down.
When confronted about the egregiousness of that statement Trump doubled down but also undermined himself. He had not actually seen the Muslim crowd but only heard about it, and it could have been in Paterson instead of Jersey City. His final ‘argument’ was that hundreds of people had called or tweeted him that they had seen or heard the same thing.
It’s Trump’s model. He repeats a lie so often that some of his half-witted followers start believing that it’s true and feed it back to him, which he then uses as ‘proof.’ With so much insincerity on the other side, it’s no wonder that Hillary’s emails have become an afterthought.