by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Along with two wars and massive debt, President Bush left Barack Obama a legacy of false statements—nearly 1,000 of them on the Iraq War alone, according to Charles Lewis, author of 935 Lies: The Future of Truth and the Decline of America’s Moral Integrity.
After promising the most transparent and ethical administration in history, Obama picked up where Bush left off—further eroding the public’s faith in the presidency. In his first term, Obama secretly expanded Bush’s antiterrorism policies and, during his reelection campaign, he assured Americans that their existing health insurance would not be threatened by Obamacare.
“Deceptions like these,” Lewis writes, “some by omission, other by commission, make a mockery of our political discourse.”
This book should be required reading for every president, governor, lawmaker, judge, and journalist; for every arrogant and overachieving political staffer; and for every marketer, ad-maker, and product spokesman using deception to sell their goods—from packs of cigarettes to members of Congress.
Because the book is a warning: Every lie and subtle distortion undermines not only your boss but your entire industry and country. “My career in journalism has coincided with a tragic period in American history—one in which falsehood has increasingly come to dominate our public discourse, and in which the bedrock values of honesty, transparency, accountability, and integrity we once took for granted have been steadily eroded,” writes Lewis, who has spent 30 years in journalism and founded the Center for Public Integrity.
It is no coincidence that, during this same period, the American public has lost faith in virtually every social institution—particularly politics, government, and the media.