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First appeared in print in The Rhinoceros Times, Greensboro, NC
By Orson Scott Card October 25, 2012

"Barrage of Lies"

(Note: I'm writing this the day before the final Obama-Romney debate, the one on foreign policy. I have no idea what will be said in that debate, or how it will be played in the media.)

Let's be very clear about something. The word "lie" has a definite meaning, despite the loose way it is used in politics.

Most false statements are not lies. If you declare something to be true, and it turns out not to be true, the most likely explanation is that you believed it to be true, but you were simply wrong.

For it to be a lie, you have to know the statement you're making is false, or that you're leaving out significant information that would change the meaning of the story.

Case 1: WMDs in Iraq

For instance, George W. Bush's declaration that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction was plausibly based on Saddam's own behavior (refusing inspections, blustering that made no sense if he had no weapons to back it up), and, more importantly, on the firm declarations of the intelligence community.

When those weapons -- whose existence was the official argument for United Nations action against Iraq -- were not found, the Left accused Bush of lying, culminating in the widespread slogan, "Bush Lied. People Died."

Not a lie at all. In fact, the bumper sticker "Bush lied, people died" is a lie. To accuse someone of lying when you know he did not lie is, in fact, a lie.

Case 2: Iraq's Alleged Involvement with 9/11

As President Bush originally made the case for active war against Iraq domestically, his justification was not Iraq's alleged possession of WMDs.

What he and his administration charged was that Saddam was an active supporter of terrorism. That this statement was true was obvious at the time (for instance, he was paying a bounty to the families of suicide bombers in other countries).

And after the defeat of Iraq's government, documents were uncovered that verified not only Saddam's active support of the training and financing of various terrorist groups, including some linked to Al Qaeda, but also his plans to involve Iraq's embassies abroad in future terrorist activities.

However, it was not true -- and the Bush administration never alleged -- that Iraq was involved in the 9/11 attacks before they happened.

Yet the Left, and its media mouthpieces, constantly charged the Bush administration with deliberately misleading the American people to believe that Iraq was involved with 9/11.

However, I watched closely at the time, and have not seen, either then or since, a shred of evidence of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, or any official administration spokesman declaring that Iraq was involved in the planning of the 9/11 attacks.

If such evidence had existed, you can be sure it would have been trumpeted in every news medium. Instead, what the media were able to come up with was this chain of reasoning:

1. Many Americans believe that Iraq was involved in planning 9/11.

2. This must be the result of the Bush administration constantly calling Iraq a terrorist state.

3. Because this belief is widespread, it must have been the deliberate intention of the administration.

But anyone can see that this chain of reasoning breaks down at every point. If the American people have a false belief, yet the administration never said the false thing that they believe, but instead made a very different and completely accurate claim, it simply does not follow that the false belief was deliberately created.

One might as easily make the claim that it was the newsmedia who did a very bad job of communicating with the American people. After all, a presidential administration talks to the American people rarely, and then filtered through the media; the media, however, talk to the American people constantly and directly.

If the people have jumped to false conclusions, who is at fault?

Nevertheless, a lot of people with the wit to know better, plus Vice-President Biden, constantly made the claim that "Bush-Cheney" lied to the American people by stating that Iraq was causally connected to the 9/11 attacks. (Biden even lied by claiming that he voted against the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, when in fact he voted for both. But he still gets away with calling other people liars.)

Case 3: Attacks in Cairo and Benghazi

These history lessons in lying and deception are very much to the point right now. The Obama campaign and its supporters in the media accuse Mitt Romney of lying about practically everything, including his own programs.

When your opponent deliberately uses misleading "estimates" and assumptions to make your program look ridiculously expensive, you don't have to accept their spin. Denying that your program will cut a fictional five trillion dollars is not a lie -- it's a correction. But how was it covered?

More important, though, was when Romney was accused of lying about Obama's actions immediately after the attacks on our embassy in Cairo and our consulate in Benghazi, in which our ambassador to Libya and three others were murdered.

In the second presidential debate, we had the ludicrous spectacle of Obama claiming that he had linked the attacks with "terror" on the very first day, and the "moderator" certifying that his false claim was true.

The truth, which we all lived through, was that for two weeks following the attacks, the entire administration, including Obama himself, declared that the attacks were spontaneous demonstrations that got out of hand, provoked by an insulting video produced by an "Israeli living in America" (as the filmmaker claimed; he later turned out to be a Coptic Christian).

As late as 25 September, long after the administration had the facts, Obama made a speech before the UN in which he explicitly blamed the YouTube video for the attacks.

Obama did say the word "terror" in a statement the day after the attacks, but he absolutely did not say that terrorists planned or carried out the attacks. The whole thrust of his remarks was to declare that the attacks were non-political criminal events provoked by the video.

Obama continued to follow the line first declared by the US Embassy in Cairo on September 11th: "The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims -- as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions."

Of course this is just silly -- the Left deliberately offends Christians and Jews all the time, and nobody in the administration cares. The only reason anyone cares about offending Muslims is that in several Muslim countries, such offenses are used as an excuse to burn things and murder people.

When, the next day, Mitt Romney criticized this apologetic, blame-America response to the murder of our ambassador and the attack on our embassy and consulate, he became the story. The media supported the Democrats in a pile-on that accused Romney of breaking a tradition of non-partisan unity in the face of a foreign attack.

Never mind that the very same Democrats, again with the support of the media, savaged President Bush constantly during his entire administration for actions far less reprehensible than that absurd apology. By comparison, Romney's criticism of Obama was a love pat. But there is no pretense of even-handedness in the media today.

So we had two solid weeks of the Obama administration, including Obama himself, putting forth the "narrative" (fancy word for "spin") that the attacks were a spontaneous outburst in response to a provocative video made in America.

But when, in the debate, Romney points out the huge discrepancy between the uniform public statements of the Obama administration and the actual facts, which were known to them from the first day onward, Obama -- and the fawning media -- accused Romney of lying.

All because the word "terror" occurred somewhere in one statement Obama made. As if that single use of the word somehow erased two weeks of lies.

Comparison Lying

So let's compare the Benghazi lies with the behavior of the Bush administration that the Left has called lies for a decade.

Bush's statements on WMDs in Iraq were based on the universal judgment of our -- and British -- intelligence estimates, plus Saddam's own behavior. When he said Iraq had WMDs, Bush had every reason to believe his own statement, and no reason not to believe it.

Yet, according to the Left, "Bush lied, people died."

Obama, by contrast, had full knowledge that the attack in Libya had nothing at all to do with any spontaneous demonstration, and that it was a well-planned terrorist attack intended to coincide with the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks of 2001, long before he lied to the UN about the cause of the event.

Then there's the fact that even though the Bush administration never said that Saddam had supported the original 9/11 attacks in advance, they were accused of having "led" people to that false conclusion by stressing Iraq's undoubted support of terrorism.

By contrast, Obama and his whole administration explicitly declared that the attacks in Cairo and Benghazi were caused by the YouTube video that insulted Islam, and that they were definitely not planned terrorist attacks. As a result, many Americans got the false impression that the terrorist attacks were not terrorist attacks.

Only when Fox News and the few other non-Leftist media exposed the true story -- that there was no demonstration at the consulate in Benghazi, and that well-armed terrorists made an unprovoked nighttime assault -- did the administration have to back down from its "misleading" story.

Here's your bumper sticker -- this time completely accurate:

"People Died, Obama Lied."

How does Obama get away with it?

On the Jon Stewart show, when Obama adopted Stewart's term "not optimal" to refer to the deaths of four Americans, some in the media think that this namby-pamby term for an assault on Americans is fully excused saying the phrase was used "in jest." (John Dickerson, "The 2012 Campaign Decoder," Slate.com.)

They don't get it: No President of the United States should be jesting about the deaths of four Americans.

"Four Americans died, Mr. Stewart," he might have said, "and it happened on my watch, after my administration refused to increase our security forces in Libya. It is by far the worst thing that's happened during my presidency. I deeply regret it, and it's not a joking matter."

That's what a President of the United States would have said -- if a President of the United States had such poor judgment as to appear on a comedy show and talk about the death of a U.S. ambassador with a comedian.

However, Stewart's use of the term "not optimal" was a perfect summation of the Obama's tone as he made his case that the whole Libya thing was basically trivial. Sure, it shouldn't have happened, the President was saying, and we wish it hadn't, but it doesn't change the wonderful track record of my administration.

So of course Obama wasn't offended. Stewart wasn't jesting. He was summarizing -- accurately.

What we see is the tragicomic spectacle of the newsmedia and Democratic Party spinning the unspinnable -- and expecting to get away with it.

And what is their strategy for getting away with lies? Always, always the same: Accuse their accusers of the very same crime. "I'm a liar? No, you're the liar!"

Barrage of Lies

Let me quote from a very famous political liar, explaining how he learned the technique of slandering political opponents in order to silence them.

When this man was a jobless ne'er-do-well on the streets of Vienna before World War I, he keenly observed the three main political parties in Austria. The one he hated most was the Social Democratic party -- the radical Left at that time. Here's what he says he learned:

"I understood the infamous spiritual terror which this movement exerts, particularly on the bourgeoisie, which is neither morally nor mentally equal to such attacks; at a given sign it unleashes a veritable barrage of lies and slanders against whatever adversary seems most dangerous, until the nerves of the attacked persons break down." (Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, quoted in William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, p. 22.)

Hitler and Stalin were constant users of this technique, and they did it because it worked. As Hitler went on to explain, "This is a tactic based on precise calculation of all human weaknesses, and its result will lead to success with almost mathematical certainty" (Shirer, op. cit. P. 23).

In employing this "barrage of lies and slanders," the Obama administration follows in the noble footsteps of the Clinton administration, which savaged everybody who attacked the beloved old goat, Philanderin' Bill.

Even after the accusation that Clinton lied -- er, "misled" the jury -- was shown to be true, and was tacitly admitted to by Bill himself as he accepted a resolution of the Whitewater civil case that included suspension of his law license and his paying $25,000 in legal fees, nobody on the Left apologized for the horrible and false things said about prosecutor Kenneth Starr and whistle-blowing witness Linda Tripp.

A "barrage of lies and slanders against whatever adversary seems most dangerous" is the automatic response of the Left these days. No special instructions are needed. There's no conspiracy. Everybody knows the script.

The Obama administration gave the signal, and the media fell into line. The narrative was declared -- "YouTube video made in America provoked Muslim violence; we're so sorry that America is an insensitively free country" -- and the media defended this narrative savagely when Mitt Romney criticized it.

Even now, any accusation that the Obama administration lied -- even though they obviously lied for weeks, and we remember that they lied because we saw and heard them do it -- is greeted with the accusation that the person calling them on their lies is ... a liar!

CNN's Candy Crowley, pretending to be a moderator, took Obama's "given sign" and ran with it, backing up his pretense of being offended at someone actually telling the truth about his lies.

Republicans have learned that for them, when something goes wrong, coverups never work. Instead, the best strategy for a Republican caught in some kind of mistake or wrongdoing is to admit everything immediately and fulsomely, cover up nothing, lay their whole record bare.

Anything else will lead to endless accusations of lies and coverups. Even when they don't cover anything up, even when there's nothing to cover, Republicans are accused of lies and coverups. (See the response to Harry Reid's slander that Romney paid no taxes.)

Democrats don't have to play by that rulebook. They can stonewall. Clinton can hide records from a Congressional subpoena for a year. Obama can do the same with Fast-and-Furious documents, releasing only a small dribble of them to Congress, while never being called to account by the media.

Darrel Issa of the House Oversight Committee filed suit against Obama's Attorney General Eric Holder in mid-August of this year -- just over two months ago -- because he has not complied with Congressional subpoenas.

If a Republican administration withheld documents under an absurdly broad claim of "executive privilege" and had to be sued by a Democratic Congress, it would be the biggest story of the year.

But with the shoe on the other foot, this obvious cover-up is "an old story" after only two months, and never gets mentioned in the media during the run-up to this election.

Democrats can openly try to steal an election, as they did in Florida in 2000, using a highly selective recount in order to get the few hundred votes they needed, meanwhile trying to block the counting of presumably pro-Bush votes of overseas military. But the Left routinely refers to it as if the Republicans tried to steal that election, and the newsmedia go along.

Barney Frank and Bill Clinton can diddle interns and stay in office; Republicans have to resign for doing far less, and nobody excuses them by saying, "Everybody lies about sex."

Democrats can lie, lie, lie -- a barrage of lies and slanders -- and when they are caught, their toadies in the media make a few excuses and move on. "That's an old story," they say immediately.

Republican errors and cover-ups are never an "old story." The media never lets go. But Democratic errors and cover-ups become an "old story" while the ink is still wet.

There are those who will complain about my explicitly linking Obama, Clinton, the Democratic Party, the intellectual elite, and the Leftist newsmedia with Hitler. How dare I! What a monstrous thing to do!

True. Following Hitler's script of "a barrage of lies and slanders" against "whatever adversary seems most dangerous" is a monstrous, outrageous thing to do. And for it to be done with the full collusion of supposedly free newsmedia is even more monstrous and outrageous.

Oh, wait. They meant I was doing something monstrous?

But ... Hitler really said this. And then carried out the script. Furthermore, he really did learn it from Leftists, and Stalin continued it as a Leftist practice in the Soviet Union. Whenever you're endangered, lash out against your most dangerous accusers with a barrage of lies and slanders.

The comparison with Hitler's observations in Mein Kampf is exactly accurate. It's a strategy designed to intimidate opponents into silence, and, as Hitler pointed out, it works "with almost mathematical certainty." That's why the Left keeps using it. If it didn't work, they'd stop.

And if it weren't extremely dangerous to the survival of a democracy, as a democracy, I wouldn't mention the comparison.

Remember that there's an alternative. Democrats in general and Obama in particular could follow the only script open to Republicans: Admit your mistake at once, open up your records to show the full extent of the mistake, then apologize and don't do it again.

Still waiting for Obama and other Democrats to do that, ever, about anything. Wrong again and again, caught again and again in cover-ups and deceptions and, yes, outright lies -- but still no admission, no apology, and no change.

Do you really think anything will be different in a second Obama term, if he continues the "barrage of lies and slanders" right up to the election, and is rewarded with victory?

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