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November 19, 2002

Bush the Liar, Clinton the Honest

Joe Conason in today's Salon pounds Bush for pretending not to be driven by polls while, as documented by Bob Woodward's new book, being obsessed with them. This makes Bush little different from the Clinton administration except in one respect:

The difference between Clinton and Bush isn't that one doesn't care about polls and the other did. The difference is that Clinton never pretended that polling data wasn't part of his political work, and didn't expect anyone on his staff to lie about such trivia.
This goes to a basic contention I've always had about Clinton, that he was a fundamentally honest politician, at least honest with the American people -- yeah, except for that statement.

Jump from the contrast on the polling issue and look at the more fundamental honesty involved in campaign promises. If you look at why people hate Clinton, it's usually for the promises he kept, not for those he broke. Liberals usually hate him for actually meaning that he would end welfare as we knew it and for supporting NAFTA and the death penalty. Conservatives hated him for actually taxing the rich and pushing to allow gays in the military. All of which he campaigned on. It's hard to think of any large campaign promises that Clinton made that he did not seek to make policy.

Bush? He started lying before he was ever elected. As Paul Krugman has documented, he lied about budget projections, the costs of his tax cut, and the likely deficit results. He lied about supporting a real prescription drug benefit. He lied about ending racial profiling of Arab-Americans (boy, did he lie). He lied about supporting the environment. And the list goes on.

Reagan at least ran on trashing the environment and giving big tax cuts to the wealthy-- it wasn't called "trickle down economics" for nothing. Bush has launched a far more rightwing set of policies but pretends it's all "compassionate conservatism."

I despise Bush far more than Reagan because Bush Jr. is such a complete and total liar. There is not a shred of honesty in the man. He doesn't try to sell the substance of his policy; he obscures it with rhetoric and misdirection. From day one he surrounded himself with corrupt contributors like Ken Lay and corrupt staff people like Army Secretary Thomas White of Enron, Harvey Pitt the stooge of the accounting industry, and the whole range of corporate castoffs posing as government officials.

Bush is a liar, but lies catch up with you over time. And his will pile up in the train wreck of public policy over the next two years.

Posted by Nathan at November 19, 2002 07:10 AM

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From your lips to God's ears, Nathan.

Posted by: nolo at November 19, 2002 03:00 PM

The funnier thing is how accountable Clinton was held and how inaccountable Bush is. Harvey Pitt was a disaster, but Bush suffered none for it. The economy is going down the toilet, but polls show that nobody blames the republicans...so strange.

On the other side of this, I don't believe that Bush is fundamentally dishonest. I think he got into something over his head, and is taking everybody else's advice. I think Rove, Fleischer, Cheney, et al are fundamentally dishonest. I think Bush is fundamentally overwhelmed.

Posted by: Ezra at November 19, 2002 04:04 PM

Whether Shrub is fundamentally overwhelmed or not, he is supposed to be the guy in charge of his lying underlings. He is responsible for their statements.

Too bad the media as personified by scumbags like Tim Russert have no interest in actually doing their jobs in holding Shrub responsible.

Posted by: Dr. Squid at November 20, 2002 12:21 PM

"The economy is going down the toilet, but polls show that nobody blames the republicans...so strange." Nothing strange about it, it all began on Clintons' watch - the bubble economy, the Enron accounting shenanigans, huge CEO pay. Where was Clinton?

And before you jump to the conclusion that I'm a Bush supporter, I'm not. I'm just tired of this partisanship. Maybe both Bush is a liar *and* Clinton was a liar. What a thought!

Posted by: Andrew Boucher at November 21, 2002 01:00 AM

Bush is a liar? This presupposes that it's him who sets the agenda, decides the policies, and calls the shots.

Far more accurate to say that those who pull Bush the puppet's strings are lying. Bush himself is just reciting the lines he's been given.

Posted by: Chuck Nolan at November 21, 2002 12:23 PM

I actually have a theory that, post-election, people are trying to pump up their adrenaline. I mean, must we re-fight the Clinton wars, or the Reagan era?

OK, Clinton - middle class tax cut, "end welfare as we know it" (yes, with a gun to his head he remembered that promise).

Kyoto treaty? Hidden in the deepest part of the lowest desk drawer.

Big Al's energy and environmental policy? BTU tax, gone, but not forgotten by House Dems who actually voted for it before the Senate dropped it.

Oh, my adrenaline has failed me.

Posted by: Tom Maguire at November 22, 2002 12:18 PM

That same phenomenon was also reported to have been the case with George H. W. Bush, particularly with regard to his opportunistic style of campaigning in 1988. Nevertheless, once in office he actually made the right decision for the country with the budget/tax deal and suffered for it. George W. Bush is ever the political pro on the campaign and in office. Let's remember how much he promised ethical government in the 2000 campaign. What do we have now but the most secretive administration in history where Enron gets to write energy policy (and the federal judge has ordered Dick Cheney to turn over the records of his energy policy task force) and the Homeland Security Act gets tweaked at the last minute to serve as a vehicle with which to grant favors to the drug companies. Also, what's become of the effort to nail corporate corruption? Has Kenneth Lay been indicted yet?

Posted by: Richard P. at November 25, 2002 03:30 PM

Liars? They are both liars in my opinion. Although I prefer Clinton to Bush, I'll always have the memory of him in Rwanda giving his "never again" speech. Hearing Clinton go on about how terrible the genocide was and if they had known anything about it they would have stopped it made me sick. The U.S. government clearly knew at the time what was occuring and did nothing to stop it, for the political cost back home would have been too high.

Posted by: William Utley at November 30, 2002 10:34 AM

Clinton is a liar and a scumbag. What an embarassment to the country. and then there's Hillary!

Posted by: Danny G. at February 10, 2003 11:48 PM

I think that Danny G should explain about Hillary. What's the problem Gary, are you intimidated by her intelligence? Or is it simply because she is a Democrat ? I'll bet he doesn't like her "just because". Sounds to me like another blind follower of Rush Limbaugh and the Republican party. Remember White Water? You can thank the Republican Party for spending millions of tax dollars to find out that there was no wrong-doing by the Clintons. Gary sounds like another "don't confuse me with the facts, my minds is made up" type of person. Lets face it, Rush Limbaugh and Corporate American would vote for Charles Manson if he were the GOP candidate for president. They would claim that Charlie was framed by the Democrats and Gary would swear that it was true.

Posted by: Terry M at February 19, 2003 11:35 PM

I believe Gary and all brain washed Republicans suffer from a blank refusal to think for themselves, and respond objectively to facts. It is so fitting that they have demonized the word "liberalism". To attack Liberalism is nothing more than a repugnant self innoculation from truth. Bush is more than a liar. He is a thug murderer who waged a war to help his approval ratings. He alone as the Commander in Chief is responsible for the 200 American kids who have died so far. For as long as governments have existed, fear has been used as a tool to manipulate the people. America in 2003 is proving to be perhaps the easiest dupe of all. Only the fools like Gary who support Bush are more inexcusable wastes of human potential.

Posted by: dean waller at June 10, 2003 01:41 PM

You are so right on with your comments on the Prevaricator In Chief! The current occupier of the White House is not only an empty vessel to be filled by right wing extremists, but a self-serving liar and a very shallow man! This is the worst Presidency ever -- I'd sooner have that cut throat Reagan back (even in his current state) than to allow this trained chimp one more day of destroying all that's good about America!

Posted by: Scott at July 12, 2003 09:38 AM

You americans are amazing "200 kids killed" so what! you have invaded another country killing thousands and promoting world instability to prop up you stupid economic crap

Posted by: Peter Caldwell at July 18, 2003 08:34 AM

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