Charles Rehn - Democrat for President 2004

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The Credibility Gap: "Politicians Lie"


"For the great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie - deliberate, contrived and dishonest - but the myth - persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebearers. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinions without the discomfort of thought."

-- John F. Kennedy 1962

Twice this last week, I was watching a tv program - one news show and one entertainment talk program - and the topic being discussed was the Bush Administration War Policy, which has generated controversy on a number of levels.

What occurs to me is remembering how I watched nearly every speech George Bush made during his campaign.  I was fascinated with the way he delivered his speeches and executed his campaign strategy, as well as being genuinely interested in his policies and approaches to issues. I specifically remember him saying, over and over, that he was against the policy of nation building. I never once heard him say anything about any   considerations of a policy of military strategies leading to the imposed Democratization of Arab nations.1

This, despite a quietly observed and executed plan to implement such a military policy that was designed in 1997.  You may have heard the name Richard Perle2, lately.   He resigned as the chairman of the Defense Policy Advisory Board, a group of citizens designated/chosen to advise Donald Rumsfeld and the Department of Defense regarding strategic policy. He may not be chairman anymore, but he does remain on the board.

It's another one of those political performances to cause the media to report his resignation to present the facade that Perle's influence has been diminished and that conflicts of interest have been resolved, regardless of the truth.

In the entire Bush 2000 campaign, I never once heard him utter a word of his association or agreement with the people who designed a global strategy to claim empirical authority of the world.  But, that, in effect, is exactly what they did when they signed on to the Project for a New American Century.

Top Bush Administration officials signed on to the project, including Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz. Are we really to believe that George Bush and his advisors were unaware of or in disagreement with the opinions and positions of his top Cabinet members?

It's the kind of performance that will be the defining legacy of the Bush Administration: it's ability to manipulate the media and the American people to believe what they want us to believe, with the audacity to distort or manufacture the facts at will, so long as the desired public impression is generated, and covert political agendas are accomplished.

They do it in a brazen manner to challenge individuals, like me, to call them on it, knowing full well they have unequalled access to the media to discredit claims of those who dare to speak out.  And, knowing full well that media outlets like 3Clear Channel, owner of 1200+ radio stations in the United States, as well as Fox News, will take on the task of publicly discrediting anyone who dares to impede the Bush agenda.

People like Janeane Garofolo, Susan Sarandon, Martin Sheen, the Dixie Chicks, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Tom Daschle, Sen. Robert Byrd, Sean Penn, Phil Donohue, Gov. Howard Dean, Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton... there is a long list of people who have been dubbed un-patriotic, sympathetic to terrorists and just plain silly for daring to speak out.

But it's not just the Bush Administration that does it.  It's an age-old practice.   It is, however, the Bush Administration doing it now.  And, I believe, the underlying agenda and the repercussions are more pervasive and socially destructive than ever before.

One host of a popular political debate program unknowingly revealed the truly insidious strategy at play.  He was discussing the fact that during the 2000 election, the Bush campaign illegally used electronic calling machines to promote his candidacy. 

The host pointed out that if the laws were enforced, the Bush campaign would owe in excess of $5 billion in fines.  His evaluation of the situation came down to this remark: "Good luck collecting it".

The lesson is simple: Once the illegal act is committed, the damage has been done, history has been changed, and only one question remains: What are you going to do about it? I dare you.

When people suggest that people get over the 2000 Election, the same strategy is in play.

It is the same strategy used by racketeers. It is a challenge to anyone to dare to be bold enough to do something about it, knowing full well they will be exposed to massive criticism, even physical harm or potential incarceration, for daring to tell the truth or interfering with their plans.

The Truth Is Always Revealed After the Fact.

It's a simple fact of the way events transpire, the way communications and public information works, and a trait of human nature. It's how dishonest people "get away with it". You don't find out until it's too late to do anything about it.

The same was, and is, true about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Few people have the time to read the stories behind the headlines, or to analyze the behavior of leaders and global trends.  It's unlikely that any single person could adequately do it.  But, in actuality, it doesn't require all of the information.   It only requires enough study to notice the patterns.

If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it's probably a duck.

In the Vietnam War era, I too wondered how protesters for peace could justify causing violence during their demonstrations. I too wondered about the patriotism of those people. who opposed the use of the military to defeat the domino effect of the spread of communism in South East Asia.

And then came the revelations provided by Daniel Ellsburg regarding the Pentagon Papers and the government's war plans that clearly proved that our government was engaged in war based on trumped up reasons and with full knowledge that it could not be won.

There were the revelations regarding the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution..  Government planners knew they had to provide the American people with a justification for the escalation of the VietNam war, so they just made one up. They staged an attack.

In 1965, Lyndon Johnson commented: "For all I know, our Navy was shooting at whales out there."

And,  the American Press reported the story just as it had been fed to them.   They too, were duped by a President.

And then came the revelations that the United States illegally and covertly engaged in the bombing of Cambodia, and additional war crimes that were never addressed (including our use of Sarin gas), all in the name of what Richard Nixon called "an honorable peace".3

It's the same kind of prodding done by U.S. and British jet fighters in the Southern Iraq no-fly zone to provoke Iraqi defenses into firing on our military, which then provided fodder for the administration's claims that Iraq was provoking us.

It's the same "set-up" that now has Donald Rumsfeld making public statements regarding contingency plans to invade Syria, Iraq's next door neighbor, who dared to oppose the war on Iraq, and purportedly supplied Iraqis with night-vision goggles, something that was known long before the Iraq invasion began. 

The information was strategically released in order to begin the process of diminishing Syria's image and, at least to the captive American audience, to justify a possible military action against Syria.

It's the same set-up that has news commentators suggesting that people who spoke out against the war in Iraq should be ashamed for doing anything that would deny the Iraqi people their freedom. Anything to suppress those who would tell the truth despite the blatant use of propaganda techniques to incite the rage and fury of the American people in order to convince of us our righteousness to wage war.

Before the war began, these same commentators were the ones who broadcast that Pentagon leaks and Defense Department spokespeople described the war strategy in Iraq to be that of shock and awe, which of course, incited people seeking a more rational approach to the destruction of the Iraqi infrastructure and the safety of the innocent Iraqi citizens.

And then they demean and humiliate those people who objected to what was described as a shock and awe strategy of mass destruction. Some people in the White House had some real laughs at that poltical manuever.

We were told that Iraq had direct ties to the 911 disaster.  There is no such connection.

In fact, consider this.

Media Silent on Clark's 9/11 Comments: Gen. says White House pushed Saddam link without evidence Clark's assertion corroborates a little-noted CBS Evening News story that aired on September 4, 2002

CLARK: "There was a concerted effort during the fall of 2001, starting immediately after 9/11, to pin 9/11 and the terrorism problem on Saddam Hussein."

RUSSERT: "By who? Who did that?"

CLARK: "Well, it came from the White House, it came from people around the White House. It came from all over. I got a call on 9/11. I was on CNN, and I got a call at my home saying, 'You got to say this is connected. This is state-sponsored terrorism. This has to be connected to Saddam Hussein.' I said, 'But--I'm willing to say it, but what's your evidence?' And I never got any evidence."

We were told that Iraq was an imminent threat to the security and safety of America, and had and were willing to use weapons of mass destruction.  I still have no doubt that some evidence or a small supply of WMD will be discovered, but it is clear by the outcome and discoveries surrounding the war as it has transpired, that Iraq had no true capabilities to deliver that sort of attack.

Remember, if you're going to mount that kind of attack, you would either need to obliterate your enemy, or be capable of defending your homeland against retaliation.  Iraq simply had no such capabilities.

Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair delivered a compelling report on terrorist and bio-chemical weaponry in Iraq in order to convince the world that Iraq posed an imminent threat, only to find out the the most damning things he stated were plagerized from a university student's thesis, complete with typos, written many years before.

Whether you agree or disagree with going to war in Iraq is not the point.  What this administration would not want to be disclosed is that the protests were not just against the disagreement with war, but a basic lack of trust for the judgement of George Bush and his administration. A lack of faith in this administration's willingness to tell the American people the straight truth without dramatizations, smoke and mirrors.

And it's the administration's own fault. At one point, just prior to Colin Powell's appearance at the U.N. to deliver the goods on Iraq, a poll reported that 78% of Americans believed that George Bush would lie about or withhold facts in order to convince us to go to war. They were right.

At the same time, the Bush camp succeeded in creating an environment of imment threat, which of course played upon our natural instincts to defend ourselves and survive.   You can not blame the American people for trusting their leaders when they are told they are in danger.

I am not complaining about little white lies.  I am protesting the wholesale manipulation of the American people for an agenda that has not been disclosed.

We are not talking about a President who stupidly had sexual affairs.  We're talking about people who believe it is appropriate political behavior to mislead you to get your permission to kill, and to put our nation's young people in harm's way in order to control the oil of Iraq.

It is not acceptable to me when I hear pundits say "it's just politics", or to say it was really about something else in the first place in order to justify deception.

The Rippling Effects of Discovering the Truth After the Fact

It was only when Walter Cronkite went on the air and declared that "the Viet Nam war is unwinnable" that the protesters were vindicated for their positions on the war.   By then, nearly 50,000 American soldiers had been killed. President John Kennedy had been assassinated, Robert Kennedy was assassinated, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, as well as 8 other world leaders with influence on the war, including the President of  South Viet Nam.

Thousands of Americans became "criminals" in the eyes of the government because they opposed it. Thousands of people were demonized as traitors and Viet-Cong sympathizers. Thousands of soldiers died. Thousands of Americans left the country in order to evade service in an unjust war.

American citizens who opposed the war - who tried to inform their fellow citizens of the truth through protests and distributing information - were criminalized... even though they were speaking the truth, while the leaders who lied to us and actually committed criminal acts remained in power and were honored for what they did.

But the truth only comes out "after the fact", when it's too late to stop it.   That is a truth that is counted on when political manipulators mount a campaign of deceit.

You would be wise to remember that lesson of the Viet Nam War when you hear media reports about the "thugs in the streets" protesting the WTO, the IMF, the World Bank, NAFTA, and, soon to be implemented without public discourse, the FTAA4 (one of the greatest threats to American employment ever invented), and anti-globalizationists.

Time after time, these protesters are found to be telling the truth. Maybe not the whole truth, maybe they don't know the whole truth, maybe they protest without having an answer to resolve the question of the day.  But, the thread of truth it represents is the same thread of truth that a good news reporter follows when getting to the bottom of a story.

While I might agree that these groups do not all necessarily see the comprehensive "big picture", I can say that in the areas of each movement's focus, they are most often justifiably concerned, and pose legitimate questions about the implications of the policies and groups they are protesting against.  They're the ones called un-patriotic, while those perpetuating the "myths" get off scot free.

But, like a friend told me not too long ago, "I don't know what's really going on, and I'm usually wrong about these things when all is said and done, but all I know is what I know, and I have to respond to what I know. By default, I have to trust the government."

His response is typical, and counted upon by those perpetrating the manipulations. That's how they get away with it.

We hear news reporters convicting assailants in crimes on tv all day long. But dare question the motives and speeches of someone easily proven to be misrepresenting issues of national security and global unrest.... Tom Delay will call you un-patriotic.

A recent conversation with a man at Dulles National Airport in Virginia told the same revealing story. The discussion was about the war in Iraq, and the amiable man, carrying a Bible in his right hand, said that he was an ardent supporter of George Bush because of his strong Christian values and behavior.

The man went on to say "I don't really know all the facts about why we're attacking Iraq, but certainly our governmental leaders, particularly George Bush, would not put our soldiers in harm's way unless there was a good reason, and they would never lie to us to make us believe we should go to war, let alone to benefit themselves politically."

His response is typical, and counted upon by those perpetrating the deceit.   That's how they get away with it.

"Politicians Lie"

So, twice this last week, I saw television programs featuring pro-Bush Adminsitration guests who had written books or served in official governmental positions of authority such that they were considered "experts" in their fields.

Each time, they were ultimately confronted with what turned out to be distortions or manufactured evidence presented in well choreographed sound bites by administration officials that, if believed, would (and did) convince you that Iraq presented an imminent threat to the security of the United States.

Their responses were the same.  It was stunning.  Here they were, defending the remarks made by the Bush administration, and when confronted with the truth about those remarks  they turned to the cameras, winked, smiled, and said with a laugh in their voices "Hey, politicians lie". And the discussion on those topics ended.

I thought "And this guy is trying to convince me to support the policies of George Bush by admitting that Bush is lying? Is he really trying to convince me to just "get over it" like the last time?  Am I stupid, or is he?"

The audiences responded by whooping it up and cheering that someone actually acknowledged that politicians sometimes do lie to manipulate American citizens, as if we didn't know it before.

And I answered the question "Am I stupid?" with the response "Only if I don't do something about it."

"Getting over it" would only be giving my permission for the lies to continue.

Equally disturbing is the attitude that the leaders "in the beltway" are equally compromised by the requirement to generate huge sums of money in order to be elected, which results in a perceived "good old boy" network where the motto is "I won't tell on you if you won't tell on me."  People have this attitude, and resign themselves to it because... after all, what are you going to do about it?

Not too long ago there was a poll where people indicated that they now trust used car salespeople more than politicians. Personally, I don't hold any bad feelings toward used car sales people.

But, if I was a politician, based on accepted perceptions, I would be incredibly embarrassed at such a finding.

As a citizen, I am appalled at the idea that it is accepted that our leaders are liars and untrustworthy.  "It's just politics"... "It's just the way things are done"...  I know for a fact that our Congress is made up of many fine people.  I'm talking about generally accepted perception.

If we were talking about someone with the responsibility of shining my shoes, I would still not condone lying and manipulation, but it would be of little personal consequence.

When it comes to people who control the well being of millions of people, and people who have control over the greatest arsenal of weapons of mass destruction on this planet, I expect a little more.

It is "just politics"... it is "just the way things are done"... and it needs to come to an end if we are to continue to claim that our government is based on a democratic system, standing for Democracy and the rule of law.

When you read some of the articles below, I request that you ask yourself, when did it become acceptable to be mislead? More importantly, why? It's an essential inquiry for a real Democracy.


1 - Project for the New American Century  http://www.newamericancentury.org
2 - Richard Perle has no place on defense panel 
3 - The Trials of Henry Kissinger, by Christopher Hitchens
4 - The FTAA - Free Trade Areas of the Americas
      see also: Stop the FTAA

New Questions on President's Use of Forged Nuclear Evidence  Statement of Rep. Henry A. Waxman For nearly three months, I have been asking a simple question: Why did President Bush cite forged evidence about Iraq’s nuclear capabilities in his State of the Union address?

The most serious of allegations Clare Short has coined the phrase that now threatens to dog Tony Blair over his decision to go to war on Iraq. When he set out the case against Saddam Hussein to parliament and the people he was perpetrating an "honourable deception," she said. Tony Blair and his spin doctor Alastair Campbell, who are accused of being the major culprits, have refused to give evidence to the committee. Mr Blair is instead relying on a separate, private inquiry by parliament's intelligence committee - which is appointed by and reports directly to him. He remains absolutely confident he will be vindicated

Questions surround WMD hunt The weapons have not yet been found, and critics question whether the Bush administration overplayed the threat -- an allegation the White House has dismissed as baseless and politically motivated. "Do they actually exist? The questions are mounting," said Sen. Robert Byrd, D-West Virginia, an outspoken critic of Bush's war policies.

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(C) 2002,2003-2009 Charles Rehn Jr IV  All rights reserved