One of the more alarming characteristics of this election season is the fact that both major candidates for president are considered to be dishonest and untrustworthy by a majority of Americans. Of course when you compare it to the 16% approval rate American people give congress, both Trump and Clinton have the reputations of angels. The public generally holds all politicians in contempt, a trend that has been coming for quite some time and for a variety of reasons.
You can go back to the presidencies of Richard Nixon and Watergate to see why people have come to distrust politicians. Ronald Reagan had Iran-Contra. George H. W. Bush had the Christmas pardons of half the Reagan cabinet. Bill Clinton was dogged by scandals throughout his term but was caught lying red-handed about a personal indiscretion and got impeached for it. But nothing can compare to the lethal dishonesty of President George W. Bush.
It was so obvious that it’s rather shocking anyone would deny it. And yet the long awaited Chilcot Report from the UK which reveals that intelligence officials knew that the invasion would cause Iraq to collapse and inevitably grow the environment for terrorism to flourish, for some reason is seen as a vindication of sorts for George W. Bush and Tony Blair by people who insist that the two did not lie to the people to justify the war.
But they did, repeatedly.
Dylan Matthews at Vox helpfullylaid out some of the lies, based upon David Corn’s reporting for Mother Jones. He begins with President Bush’s insistence before the war began that Saddam Hussein had a massive stockpile of biological weapons. However, we know that the CIA told the White House that they “no specific information on the types or quantities of weapons agent or stockpiles at Baghdad’s disposal.” This was evidently something out of Bush’s fever dreams. But it was important.
As much as people were frightened of the prospect of Saddam having nuclear weapons (which Bush also lied about when he said we didn’t know if he had one — we knew that he didn’t), they were also terrified about the prospect of biological or chemical weapons being used in another terrorist attack. After all, we had just been through the anthrax scare and President Bush was stoking these fears in press conferences where he warned people to be particularly aware of crop dusters and said that Saddam had a fleet of drone plane that could be used to drop bioweapons on Americans. (The Air Force said at the time that this was nonsense.)…
There were many large and small lies for months on end. My personal favorite is a small one but it’s the one that best illustrates the “you can believe me or you can believe your lyin’ eyes” tactic. In July of 2003, President Bush said this:
“[W]e gave [Saddam Hussein] a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn’t let them in. And, therefore, after a reasonable request, we decided to remove him from power…”
This is completely wrong. Hussein did let U.N. weapons inspectors in, and they failed to find any weapons. The administration withdrew them so they could begin the invasion.
Here he is saying it:
It was shocking to hear him say it. By this time it was becoming clear that the administration’s stated reason for the invasion — to “disarm Saddam Hussein” — was turning up no WMD. And yet this blatant lie was barely noticed in the press…
How to explain that it “came out wrong” again three years later when the world was finally realizing just how thoroughly they’d been taken for fools when he said it again:
And when he chose to deny inspectors, when he chose not to disclose, then I had the difficult decision to make to remove him.
If you want to know why so many people believe that their leaders are liars, look no further than the fact that the George W. Bush administration convinced the nation that Saddam Hussein was in cahoots with Osama bin Laden and had weapons of mass destruction which the two evil-doers were planning to use against Americans. A quarter of million people (and counting) died as a result of those lies. It’s amazing there’s any trust in government at all after that.
The ReThug’s jihad against the Clinton’s can be directly traced back to the GOP’s embarrassment over Ronnie Raygun’s inept and massively corrupt administration, along with Shrub and The Dark Lord’s illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq and subsequent shredding of our civil liberties.
Knowing this the ReThugs launch years’ long investigations into Obama and the Clintons, never finding anything (in the case of Obama) and only finding illicit sex and untoward emails (in the case of the Clintons), neither of which were the focus of the initial queries.
The American public should not stand for these tactics, but current high schoolers & JuCo students don’t remember 9-11, much less Ronnie Raygun and Bush the Lesser – they’re just dusty subjects in barely read tomes of history.
In that sense the ReThugs concerted efforts to dumb down America are working. And this election season they’re doubling down on the strategy, running the dumbest presidential candidate in history, all the while screaming about HRC.