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Lying, Obamacare, and Integrity

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

Woven through the non-stop evaluations of and reports about Obamacare’s failures is an undercurrent of wounded wonder: The President lied.

He lied about keeping one’s doctor and keeping one’s health insurance plan. Repeatedly. Frequently. Blithely. His defenders are reduced to such justifications as this by CNN commentator L.Z. Granderson: “President Obama … should have been more forthright with how the Affordable Care Act was going to impact the country. But with that being said, all Americans know politicians lie. The question is, which lies can you live with? And, time and time again, Americans have said we can deal with the lies that President Obama tells us because we believe in his heart, he has the best interest for the American people. Every president is going to lie to you. Every politician is going to lie to you. The question is, which lies can you live with?”


“Americans have said we can deal with the lies that President Obama tells us.” Really? When? Mr. Granderson’s projection of the apparent suspension of his own sense of honor onto 315 million of his fellow citizens is laughable.

And since when do good intentions and lying go hand-in-hand? Using both biblical and classical measurements of virtue, it is impossible to fuse two fundamentally conflicting moral principles. In other words, a liar’s intentions are never truly good: they invariably are symptomatic of either cowardice or cynicism.

The damage to Mr. Obama’s credibility transcends disappointment and veers into disgust. In a striking headline, the December 4 National Journal reports, “Millennials Abandon Obama and Obamacare: A majority of America’s youngest adults would vote to recall the president.” Here’s a brief excerpt: “Young Americans are turning against Barack Obama and Obamacare, according to a new survey of millennials, people between the ages of 18 and 29 who are vital to the fortunes of the president and his signature health care law. The most startling finding of Harvard University’s Institute of Politics: A majority of Americans under age 25 – the youngest millennials – would favor throwing Obama out of office.”

This is heartbreaking. Sadly, young people are used to being lied to. Despite the avowals of their parents (“Mommy and Daddy will always love each other”), only “45 percent of U.S. children on the cusp of adulthood have grown up in an intact married family. The mother and father of the remaining 55 percent of 17-year-olds have at some time rejected each other as husband and wife.”


Given that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are about 20 million new cases of sexually-transmitted disease annually, it’s safe to say that a lot of young people are lying to one another, too.

President Obama presented himself as someone different, as a leader who shared the same somewhat jaded view of politics and politicians as the rest of us. He would bring a fresh wind of change to Washington not only because he stood outside petty partisanship and ideological squabbling, but because he would shoot straight with us. Instead, as economist Mark Hendrickson writes scathingly in Forbes, “(Mr.) Obama repeatedly shows himself to be an implacable ideologue who never lets reality interfere with his demagoguery.”

Frankly, I hate writing that our president is a liar. No one expects, or should expect, moral perfection from anyone, including political leaders. But is basic integrity too much to ask?

Having been in Washington for more than 20 years, I’ve been around a number of politicians, Republican and Democratic alike, who have betrayed their spouses, their constituents, and, on occasion, even the vital interests of their country. All of these betrayals are disgraceful.

What make Mr. Obama’s lies so odious is that they derive from such a potent source, that of the senior and most respected office and office-holder in the nation, and that they have been about Mr. Obama’s overwhelmingly most important legislative achievement.

Disillusionment, once it takes hold, is hard to shake. Its grip is made even tighter when the person who disillusions is one in whom such high but not wholly unrealistic hopes had been invested.


The effects of Mr. Obama’s dishonesty are only beginning to be felt. The laceration he has made on the soul of our country goes deep. Its effects will be many, and the wound will not be easily healed.

Paul the apostle wrote of himself and his co-laborers in the Gospel that “we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man” (II Corinthians 8:21). Mr. President, it’s not too late for you to follow suit.

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