Paul Greenberg
The best response to all that's strange, mysterious or just surprising may be a smile. But the news of late has reduced me to the one-word question and expletive favored by "Mad Men's" Don Draper whenever he's confronted by anything that doesn't make sense:

What?!

Take the sheer number of fabrications Barack Obama managed to pack into one response to a simple question on CBS' "60 Minutes." To swallow them all would require a boxcar of salt. And the whole enchilada came packaged in our president's usual condescending style -- as if he were still addressing a class of first-year law students at the University of Chicago, their notebooks at the ready to capture every pearl of wisdom he might drop, however artificial.

All it took to unleash this Niagara of falsehoods was a simple question about the explosion of the national debt on this president's watch. (It's now 60 percent higher than when he took office.) The president's response went on for some time, but the biggest whopper had to be his claim that "when I came into office, I inherited the biggest deficit in our history."

What?!

The biggest annual deficit the federal government has ever run turns out to have been in 1943 in the midst of the Second World War, the next biggest in the wartime years 1944 and 1945. As the Wall Street Journal was quick to point out.

It took the Journal two whole, heavily footnoted columns to go through the various snares-and delusions contained in the president's extended answer to a simple question. And the Washington Post awarded him four Pinnochios, its Oscars for dissembling, on the basis of this performance.

Here's the text of the president's statement in all its sprawling fraudulence:

"When I came into office, I inherited the biggest deficit in our history. And over the last four years, the deficit has gone up, but 90 percent of that is as a consequence of two wars that weren't paid for, as a consequence of tax cuts that weren't paid for, a prescription drug plan that was not paid for, and then the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

"Now we took some emergency actions, but that accounts for about 10 percent of this increase in the deficit, and we have actually seen the federal government grow at a slower pace than at any time since Dwight Eisenhower, in fact, substantially slower than the federal government grew under either Ronald Reagan or George Bush."

Beginning with that bogus claim about inheriting the biggest annual deficit in American history, the president went on to make a number of other dubious assertions that needed clearing up:

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.