Saturday Column: Lack of honesty undercuts confidence in president

December 7, 2013


What should Americans think when their president does not tell the truth?

What should foreign leaders think when the U.S. president does not tell the truth?

Once a person is found not telling the truth, how can others have any confidence or certainty that he or she is being told the truth on other matters and issues?

Whether or not individuals voted for Obama in the 2008 or 2012 presidential elections, whether or not they are Republicans or Democrats, what must they think when their president doesn’t tell the truth about very serious matters? Whether they are serious matters or not, telling the truth, honesty and leveling with the public should be the No. 1 priority for a president.

During his campaigns for the presidency, one of Obama’s constant campaign pledges was that his presidency would be noted for its transparency. He made a lot of pledges and promises, just as all political candidates seem to do. Perhaps the name of the political game is to say whatever voters want to hear, make any and all kinds of pledges and promises to get the vote and then figure out a way to disregard or forget the promises after winning the election.

The one Obama pledge that he is committed to trying to fulfil is to bring about “fundamental changes” in America. He is determined to change many facets of this country’s society, and this is why one year into his second term in office, he is doing anything and everything to help Democrats continue to control the Senate and to regain control of the House in the upcoming November elections.

He knows his best chance to bring about his most radical “fundamental changes,” other than by executive actions, is to have Democrats control both houses and possibly pack the Supreme Court with justices who favor his agenda.

It’s likely Obama will engage in a constant, all-out campaign between now and November, trying to sell his own legislative agenda and helping elect Democratic House and Senate candidates.

The big trouble however, is what recent public opinion polls show: The president is losing the confidence of the majority of potential voters — Democrats, Republicans and independents and people of all ages.

His signature legislative effort has been to change our country’s system of medical care. He and his followers in Congress jammed through a plan without a single Republican vote, and, yet, one of his campaign promises was to assure the public he would work closely with Republicans in all legislative matters. This has proven to be a hollow pledge.

After passage of the health care legislation, Obama promised Americans time and time again they would be able to “keep your own doctors” and “your insurance plans.”

Now, it is clear he and his senior aides knew from the outset that this was not the truth. They had been told months earlier, even as they were reassuring the public to the contrary, that millions of Americans would be losing their insurance, would not be able to keep their same doctors and that probably in the majority of cases, the costs for insurance would be higher.

Some may say it really isn’t that important that the president didn’t tell the truth, but what kind of reasoning tolerates or accepts lying?

Does the president’s performance and explanation concerning the Benghazi tragedy cause Americans to wonder whether he, along with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have been truthful with the public?

As Clinton said when testifying before a congressional committee, “What difference does it make” whether those who killed an American ambassador were terrorists or merely some individuals out for a walk?

The public still does not know what happened or why it happened. What about the “transparency” pledge and the importance of telling the truth?

What about the targeting of conservative organizations by IRS officials? What about the National Security Agency’s spying on millions of unsuspecting Americans as well as leaders of many of our foreign allies?

Has Obama been open and transparent on these and other programs and actions?

The point is, how can a U.S. citizen be confident their president is being honest and truthful? When can he be believed and when is it all right to lie?

Any president is going to be faced with situations when he must maintain secrecy and observe confidences but this can be accomplished without misleading or deliberately lying to the public.

There is growing skepticism concerning the entire structure and purpose of Obamacare, but the most damaging part of the mess is that it is clear the president has not been truthful with the public, those who voted for him as well as those who voted against him.

On a scale of relative importance, how important is honesty for elected officials?


Paul R Getto 4 years, 5 months ago

So many questions, Sir! Some are legitimate, but you could have written this column about most of the last 15-20 presidents. Relax.

Larry Sturm 4 years, 5 months ago

They all lie to us Mr Simons lets face the real fact that the republicans would not work with the president good or bad they are obstructionists.

Amy Varoli Elliott 4 years, 5 months ago

Bush lied about Iraq and lead us to a war costing the lives of thousands of Americans, let's not act like the ACA not working out like we thought it would is somehow more outrageous.

Joshua Cain 4 years, 5 months ago

Obama lied about Iraq too. His campaign promise to end the Iraq war as the first thing he would do as president was a sure vote getter but once in office, he continued the war and caused more US and Iraqi deaths.

Obama didn't end the war any sooner than what the Bush administration had arranged for before Bush left office. The 2008 Status of Forces Agreement, was negotiated between the Bush administration and the Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki. All Obama did was implement the plan he inherited so I don't really buy any "promise kept" for something that was in place before he even took office.

Whats more offensive is that the Obama administration was trying to amend the withdraw plan to leave troops in Iraq beyond 2011....all the while parading the idea that he ended the war. I'd rather have Obama say thanks to Bush for the deal and apologize to the American public for trying to prolong the war.

While the ACA not working out like some thought it would, is less outrageous than Bush's lie, Obama's continuation of the Bush foreign policy is just as unforgivable, arrogant, and criminal.

Joshua Cain 4 years, 5 months ago

Not my rationale at all. Both are liars and it's not acceptable. I'm making no excuses for either of them. My comment was directed mostly to Amy's comment.

Bob Smith 4 years, 5 months ago

The default action of this administration is to lie.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 5 months ago

Life could be a lot worse as some history is available that documents such not to mention millions upon millions upon millions have become unemployed and lost retirement benefits as a result of extreme dishonesty and secrecy.

--- Why does the GOP Deliberately crash the USA economy? at will? http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jun/09/did-republicans-deliberately-crash-us-economy

--- This GOP ENTITLEMENT - TABOR is Coming by Grover Norquist = Grab Your Wallets! http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2005/0705rebne.html

--- This GOP ENTITLEMENT - Bailing out The Reagan/Bush Savings and Loan Heist aka home loan scandal sent the economy out the window costing taxpayers many many billions and millions of jobs, loss of retirement plans and loss of medical insurance. http://rationalrevolution0.tripod.com/war/bush_family_and_the_s.htm

--- This GOP ENTITLEMENT Bailing out the Bush/Cheney Home Loan Wall Street Bank Fraud cost consumers $ trillions, millions of jobs, loss of retirement plans and loss of medical insurance. Exactly like the Reagan/Bush home loan scam. Déjà vu can we say. Yep seems to be a pattern. http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2009/0709macewan.html

--- This GOP ENTITLEMENT - Bush/Cheney implied many financial institutions were at risk instead of only 3? One of the biggest lies perpetrated to American citizens. Where did this money go? Why were some banks forced to take bail out money? http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/10/good_billions_after_bad_one_year

--- RECKLESS GOP Tax cuts = THE GOP ENTITLEMENT program for the wealthy which do nothing to make an economy strong or produce jobs. Tax cuts are a tax increase to others in order to make up the loss in revenue = duped again. Bush Tax Cuts aka http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2001/0301miller.html

--- This GOP ENTITLEMENT program for the wealthy is at the expense of the middle class = duped one more time. http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2001/0301miller.html

Short memories put the USA economy and security of the USA at substantial risks.

Beator 4 years, 5 months ago

What does this have to do with Obama's lying? Does your post of non relevant topics justify Obama's lying?

Bob Smith 4 years, 5 months ago

The role of ALEC in the Lollard Heresy has never been fully investigated!

Dan Eyler 4 years, 5 months ago

Our president has lied about himself, his family, who he lived with. He lied about Benghazi, fast and furious, keeping your insurance. He lied about closing Gitmo, he lied about ending the Afghanistan war. He won't disclose his educational transcripts and it goes on and on. This isn't a conservative or liberal issue. It's about a man who will say or do anything that leads to his political goals.

Bob Smith 4 years, 5 months ago

More stories of abusive Fed agencies give the appearance that the dude at 1600 Penn Ave has no idea what if happening in the government. http://www.jsonline.com/watchdog/watchdogreports/atf-uses-rogue-tactics-in-storefront-stings-across-the-nation-b99146765z1-234916641.html

Rich Noever 4 years, 5 months ago

Hey, he is a Illinois politician. What do you expect? Remember his "ho hum" attitude when it came out that Rod Blagojevich was trying to sell his vacated Senate seat. Business as usual in Illinois.

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