One of these napkins depicted a “sinner” pleading with Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates. The reprobate says, “Wait, those weren’t lies. That was spin.”
The joke is that those were lies, but those telling them did not consider them such. Although they knew full well they were spreading untruths in order to influence others, they perceived this as their job. These fabrications were deemed legitimate because they were part of the political “game.”
Leibovich makes it perfectly plain that for Washington insiders what matters most is getting a leg up on the competition. The objective is to improve one’s status so that eventually one can cash in on the money machine our nation’s capital has become.
The players evidently also love power, and attention, and fawn all over each other in order to get it. They will therefore play the sycophant, and the lifelong buddy, then stab each other in the back for an ephemeral advantage. What is more, many enjoy what they regard as an indoor sport.
In short, if but a quarter of what Leibovich writes is true, it is eloquent testimony as to why the federal establishment deserves to be cut back. No doubt many of the people who gravitate toward government service begin with noble intentions, but it is also quite clear that many who stay to ride the gravy train have been thoroughly corrupted.
Specifically, this business of people casually accepting deceit as a tool of the trade rankles some of us who still believe honesty is a virtue. Perhaps we are quaint relics of a bygone era, but winking, nodding and revering those who tell the glossiest whoppers strikes us as immoral.
The biggest problem, however, is that this dishonesty bug seems to have infected the nation at large. Not just a handful of politicians, lobbyists and reporters cooped up in what literally used to be a vile swamp on the Potomac have been laid low by this malady.
Consider some of the lies Americans have been told only to have a majority shrug their shoulders, then reward the dissembler. Thus, weren’t people warned that our president was being dishonest when he promised they could keep their medical insurance after Obamacare went into effect?
Weren’t voters likewise told their premiums would rise, not fall, despite projections to the contrary? Didn’t it sink in it when cautioned they would lose their doctors and/or be subject to “death panels”? Now all this is coming true and demonstrating the voters were deceived. Nevertheless, there is no wave of revulsion sweeping the land.
So numbed have people become to being manipulated, many don’t even notice they have been taken to the cleaners. So egregious is their acceptance of deceit that when Obama and his minions called the IRS scandal phony just weeks after condemning it as disgraceful, they continued to tell pollsters how much they like the president.
Yet this isn’t a game! It shouldn’t be one in the nation’s capital and even less on the nation’s main streets. We are told that people are not paying attention and therefore do not realize they have been deceived. Still, it is their pockets that are being fleeced, their health that is being put in jeopardy and their freedoms that are being compromised.
The truth is that liars are thieves! Liars are also tyrants! They rob us of our souls and our happiness, even as we grin uncomprehendingly at their shenanigans.
So where is the outrage? Why haven’t we thrown the rascals out and demanded that their mischief be undone? Or do we too actually believe this is all merely fun and games: a playground for the Anthony Weiners of the world, if you will.
Melvyn L. Fein, Ph.D., is a professor of sociology at Kennesaw State University.