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When Is a Lie Not a Lie?

November 11, 2013

There’s an old joke most of us remember from our childhood.  When is a door not a door?  The answer: when it’s ajar.  That play on words seemed really clever when we were kids.

Today, we’re hearing the same kind of wordplay from Democrats.  We remember those countless and emphatic promises Barack Obama made about the so-called Affordable Care Act.  He absolutely assured a wary public that the law would in no way interfere with their health insurance.  Of the many times he repeated that promise, there’s one line in particular that comes to mind: “If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan… period.”  The clarity and emphasis of that promise is undeniable.

Now that the law has been crammed down our throats by Democrats, we are watching millions of Americans, in fact, losing the coverage they liked.  More than that, internal White House memos prove that this outcome was known well in advance by the administration, and they chose to conceal it.  

So now, supporters of the President and the ACA are playing with words in a desperate effort to convince the country that Obama didn’t actually lie when he made those promises.  They argue that an insignificant number of people will in fact lose their health insurance, or that their policies were somehow sub-standard anyway.  They say that all the promises were really a somewhat clumsy attempt to simplify a complicated situation.  One editorial appearing in Sunday’s New York Times offered this delicate critique of Obama’s lies: “Mr. Obama clearly misspoke when he said that.”  

But Presidential spokesman Jay Carney best represents this dwindling league of defenders of the indefensible.  Viewers are tuning in to his press conferences with the same morbid curiosity that brought spectators to the Colosseum.  He has become a pathetic figure as he twists, contorts, and stretches what should be brief answers into convoluted excuses for Obama’s deception.  

It’s worth noting that during the previous Republican administration, the same people who now cover Obama’s obvious deceit jumped at the opportunity to label an intelligence failure as a damnable lie.  And they did it without a shred of evidence.

Today, they can call Obama’s words whatever they want - exaggerations, misstatements, or all just a big misunderstanding.  The American people are no longer amused by word games, and most are smart enough to know the difference between a clumsy misstatement and a bald-faced lie.

Obama, himself, had a less subtle defense against those who would dare attack his integrity.  On Monday he decided to lie again, defiantly announcing, “What we said was you could keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law was passed.”  Obviously, that caveat in the second part of the statement was never mentioned during the countless assurances he offered early on.  Whether it’s about the Affordable Care Act, Benghazi, Syria, or transparency in government, Barack Obama’s words come, not from the heart, but from political calculations.  And he seems to believe that ultimately he can use his silver tongue to repair any of the resulting damage.  It didn’t work when he tried it on Monday.  That contradictory statement was so bizarre that many are now wondering if our President is a pathological liar.

So what now?  No one knows how the ACA will play out.  One estimate shows that more than 129 million people, one-third of the population, may ultimately lose the health insurance they now hold.  Another prediction suggests that 30 million others will still be uninsured even after the law is fully implemented.  Obama will certainly be remembered as the most dishonest President in history, and some commentators have even begun tiptoeing around the “I” word.  Until now, Obama’s popularity and support in Congress has made him invincible.  But as millions more lose their health insurance, and congressional Democrats begin to back away from Obama and the ACA, who knows?  Ultimately, the people will decide if this massive fraud perpetrated on millions of Americans meets the standard of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”  Until then, they will have to live with the consequences of the elections because, after all, they handed Obama the power he so richly abuses. 

In the meantime, Jay Carney, the New York Times, and all those defenders of the President offer this joke on the American people: “When is a lie not a lie?”  The punch-line is not nearly as funny as they think:  “When it’s told by Barack Obama….period.”

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Peter Lemiska has spent more than 28 years in government service. He is a former Senior Special Agent of the U.S. Secret Service and an Air Force veteran. His political commentaries have been widely published online and in print.