There is lying, and then there is lying.
It seems that President Barack Obama doesn’t know the difference, or more likely that he thinks the average American doesn’t know the difference.
He may be in for a rude surprise and an even ruder final three, lame-duck years.
Yes, all presidents lie, if not explicitly, then indirectly. I don’t have the documents in front of me – Doris Kearns Goodwin wasn’t free for lunch – but I’m willing to bet that even George Washington, father of our country, and “Honest” Abe Lincoln lied for what they considered to be the best interests of the nation.
These days, presidential handlers and suck-up journalists try to prettify or fog up reality with a standard list of euphemisms: The president misspoke; was misleading, disingenuous or inaccurate; stretched the truth; dissembled; misinformed, etc.
But most Americans, although they tend to be increasingly uninformed, are able to cut through the fog.
They tolerate plenty of grey. They tend to excuse presidents who make campaign promises that they then routinely break when the reality of governing sets in.
Obama promised to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, to cut the deficit in half, to keep unemployment at less than 8 percent if Congress supported a stimulus package of nearly $900 billion. None of those was true. But, hey, most people figured he wanted them to be true, and he intended for them to be true, at least when he said them. So, they gave him a pass.
Most Americans will also support lies told to protect the safety of the country. Indeed, they expect and want their president and his chief lieutenants to lie in certain circumstances, such as when dealing with a mendacious leader of a hostile nation.
But it is something else when the intent is to deceive the American people instead of a hostile foreign regime. It is something else when the lie’s intent is to cloak the reality of a controversial agenda, or to protect one’s own political career.