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A show of hands: Do you think former Gov. Paul LePage is lying when he says his administration shopped around for the lowest hotel rates in Washington, D.C., and then spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars camping out and eating filet mignon at Trump International?
I’m just asking because lying seems to have become standard operating procedure for a certain class of American politician. President Donald Trump, of course, is the unequaled liar-in-chief, having made, according to the Washington Post, some 7,645 false or misleading statements over his first 710 days in office.
There is no crisis at our southern border, for example, and Trump knows it, but he also knows his benighted base believes there is, so he lies to keep them happy because he will say or do anything to hold onto power.
Trump subscribes to the George Costanza Theory of Truth from “Seinfeld,” which states “It’s not a lie if you believe it.”
I’m sure President Bill Clinton truly believed he did not have “sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” He was not prevaricating, he was equivocating. He defined “sexual relations” in his own mind as sexual intercourse. Clinton faced impeachment for lying about oral sex, when Trump tells much worse lies every day.
I’m also willing to believe that President Barack Obama, at least at first, truly believed, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it,” the Politifact Lie of Year for 2013.
Not all false statements are lies. Sometimes they are just wrong, mistakes. Did President George Bush lie about weapons of mass destruction as a pretext for invading Iraq, or did he just get bad intel from the CIA? No less an investigative reporter than Bob Woodward thinks the latter.
While I am as partisan progressive as the next Democrat, I fully acknowledge the lies told by liberals. I probably agree with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, on most issues, but the fact that she claimed for years to be Native American disqualifies her in my mind from running for president. I know Warren says her family talked about having Native American ancestry and her DNA test confirmed a distant Native American relative, but did she really think she was going to get away with playing the indigenous-people card? My namesake grandfather looked very much like the Indian on the nickel, but that doesn’t make me Native American.
And as much as I find Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, a voice of reason in the U.S. Senate, I find it hard to take him seriously because he repeatedly claimed to have served in Vietnam when, in fact, he served in the Marine Corps Reserve stateside during the Vietnam War era. I’m amazed Blumenthal won in 2010 and 2016 after being unmasked as the Brian Williams of the Senate. (Williams lied about having been in a helicopter that was shot down in Iraq. His punishment was banishment from prime-time anchor to late-night cable news guy.)
Lying, of course, is nothing new in the annals of politics. Even Honest Abe lied when he said he just wanted to prevent the spread of slavery, not abolish it. One party’s lies are another’s facts, especially in post-truth America. Still, the one lie I cannot forgive is the one that got Trump elected.
That’s the Big Right Lie that the economy was in shambles, the U.S. military was weak, American prestige abroad was suffering, illegal immigrants were taking our jobs, Republicans would reduce the deficit, Caucasians were superior beings and Mexico would pay for the wall.
Lies, lies, and more lies.
Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Brunswick. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.