According to the Chinese calendar, 2013 was the Year of the Snake. For Americans, however, the year just drawing to a close will be known as the Year of the Lie. Not since the Nixon Administration -- which ended with Richard Nixon resigning in order to avoid being impeached -- has the credibility of a President been held in such low esteem.
Mired in more scandals than fingers and toes on which to count, it seems President Barack Obama and his defenders spent more time this year fibbing to the American people than actually running the executive branch. From the scandals that rocked the IRS, to the disaster that is ObamaCare, the lies emanating from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue have indeed come – to coin a phrase – “Fast and Furious.” Herewith, the Top Ten Lies of 2013.
Lie Number 10: “[The debt ceiling] is not something that is a negotiating tool. It’s not leverage.” - President Barack Obama, 12/20/13. Obama’s words in December differ drastically from the actions his Administration took during October’s government “shutdown.” While Republicans worked for a budget resolution, the White House intentionally made the shutdown as worse as possible for citizens and government workers, including using barricades to block visitors from open-air national monuments.
Lie Number 9: “I didn’t set a red line. The world set a red line.” - President Barack Obama, 9/4/13. Obama’s lack of experience in matters of diplomacy and international affairs is most obvious in his haphazard approach to foreign policy in the Middle East. Addressing the matter of chemical weapons in Syria, Obama sent a “warning shot” to the Assad regime in Damascus, deliberately using the term “red line” in August to describe what would prompt America to take military action. When the American public turned against Obama’s rush to war, he tried amateurishly to flip the script with a lie, contradicting what he said just weeks before.
Lie Number 8: “I don’t have time to think about a false controversy.” - National Security Advisory Susan Rice, 12/22/13. The September 11, 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi led to the first assassination of a U.S. ambassador since the 1970s, and the murders of three other American citizens. Yet, Rice, arguably one of the most powerful players in the Administration because of her long and close personal relationship with Obama, is still trying to convince the American public nothing happened. This is one lie that will likely linger through the 2016 election.
Lie Number 7: “The president enrolled in a health care plan made available by the Affordable Care Act on the D.C. marketplace.” - White House Spokesman Eric Schultz made this glib statement earlier this week. It sounded good, except for the fact Obama did not “enroll” in anything. While on a multi-million dollar, taxpayer-funded vacation in Hawaii, the President’s aides “symbolically” enrolled Obama in the healthcare exchange. Obama has yet to personally enroll in his namesake health program, since doing so would require him to navigate the same nightmarish process millions of other Americans are legally being forced to endure.
Lie Number 6: “It is transparent, that’s why we set up the FISA court.” - President Barack Obama, 6/17/13. Obama once promised that his Administration would be the most “transparent” in history. Such a description of the past five years, however, could not be further from the truth. Every effort to shine light on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court -- the epicenter of the authority under which the National Security Agency has been surveilling untold billions of American citizens’ electronic communications – has been resisted and defeated by the Obama Administration (with enabling support from leaders of both political parties on Capitol Hill).
Lie Number 5: “With regard to potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material, that is not something that I have ever been involved in, heard of, or would think would be a wise policy.” - U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, 5/15/13. When exposed for using the power of the U.S. Department of Justice to intimidate reporters unfriendly to the Obama Administration, Holder did what his boss routinely does: simply deny all knowledge. In this instance, however, media reports quickly linked Holder to the investigation; in turn prompting a House Judiciary Committee Staff Report calling the Attorney General’s testimony a “deliberate” attempt to “circumvent proper congressional oversight and accountability by distorting the truth about the Justice Department’s investigative techniques targeting journalists.”
Lie Number 4: “Let me repeat: Nothing I'm proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime.” - President Barack Obama, 2/12/13. The national debt has increased by 57 percent under the Obama Administration, compared to 38 percent under President George W. Bush, and 32 percent under President Bill Clinton. When Obama promised in this year’s State of the Union speech that his new proposals would not increase the deficit by a single dime, the GOP calculated Obama had already increased the deficit by 58.6 trillion dimes. The scope and long-term negative effects of this lie are staggering.
Lie Number 3: “I have not done anything wrong.” - Former IRS official Lois Lerner, 5/22/13. This statement, along with Lerner’s assurance that she committed no crimes and violated no IRS policies, were the only words Lerner spoke to the House Oversight Committee before ducking behind the Fifth Amendment. Despite clear evidence linking Lerner to illegally-sharing confidential tax information with the Federal Election Commission, and setting a dangerous precedent of unaccountability for federal misconduct, Lerner was allowed to simply retire in September, still eligible for her taxpayer-funded pension. The President, meanwhile, has never admitted his Administration did anything wrong.
Lie Number 2: “Not wittingly. There are cases where [the NSA] could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly.” - Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, 3/12/13. Following the devastating revelations from Edward Snowden regarding the Obama Administration’s massive, illegal domestic surveillance program, the notion that the NSA “inadvertently” and “unwittingly” collects information on innocent American citizens is not only wrong, but stupid. And, coming from the man in charge of America’s intelligence community, it becomes an outright lie. Members of the House Judiciary Committee are not taking Clapper’s “willful lie under oath” lightly, and are demanding a criminal probe. Just as former President Clinton tried to avoid the truth by claiming, “It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is,” Clapper’s effort to avoid uttering the truth by use of the term “wittingly,” may come back to haunt him.
And Lie Number 1: “If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period.” - President Barack Obama. Perhaps the President should have ended this phrase with an asterisk and a footnote, considering that literally millions of Americans are losing their health insurance plans because of stipulations in ObamaCare. Even PolitiFact, the reliably left-leaning political “fact-checker” organization, dubbed this quip from Obama as the organization’s lie-of-the-year.
As I wrote regarding the frightening trend of “New Speak” in the Obama Administration, democracy can only survive in an environment in which citizens are given accurate information on issues affecting them and about people for whom they are asked to vote. Clearly, if the trend in government illustrated by the routine and systemic lies practiced by the current Administration continues, our very way of life is in peril.