“Starting tomorrow, everybody here, cleaning the floors at the Capitol. They’re going to have less pay,” said President Obama whilst fear mongering about the looming sequester cuts. “The janitors, the security guards. They just got a pay cut. They’ve got to figure out how to manage that. That’s real.”
Well, turns out it’s not real, according to the Architect of the Capitol who made it clear that no janitors, or security guards, would be getting pay cuts:
Obama’s remarks continue the administration’s pattern of overstating the potential impact of the sequester, which we have explored this week. But this error is particularly bad–and nerve-wracking to the janitors and security guards who were misled by the president’s comments.
We originally thought this was maybe a Two Pinocchio rating, but in light of the AOC memo and the confirmation that security guards will not face a pay cut, nothing in Obama’s statement came close to being correct.
In other words, Obama was using figures from the Department of Things I Just Made Up.
Did Presidents always lie this audaciously? Maybe they did, and in a previous age bereft of the sort of easy and swift access to information we enjoy today, they did and nobody knew about it. But perhaps the most important question is, were we always thing inured to lying?
To be sure, the word “lying” gets thrown around a lot in politics. One side is always accusing the other side of lying about something that is really just a matter of disagreement. In this instance, however, there isn’t room for debate. President Obama told an intentional lie, intended to mislead Americans into believing something that isn’t true.
President Obama pops off whoppers all the time, and they’re routinely fact-checked and found wanting, and yet there seems to be little concern from the populace. Or the media. That’s just a politician being a politician, we seem to feel. They lie. That’s what they do.
That cynicism isn’t serving us well, I think.