The storyline seems intriguing enough: A doctor famous for exploiting body language to discern the truth grows rich using his skills to solve crimes. The television show “Lie to Me” ran from 2009-2011, so the protagonist, Dr. Lightman, isn’t around today for any “ripped from the headlines” episodes. I’m not sure we need him; today’s lying headline-makers are either so transparent that no special talents are required to see the truth, or their lying is celebrated as a job qualification. Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.
He couldn’t simply yell “Liar, liar, pants on fire!”, but I imagine that Sen. Ted Cruz thought about it during his thorough take-down of Sierra Club president Aaron Mair last week. In a Judiciary sub-committee hearing on the science of climate change and its purported effects on the minority community, Sen. Cruz used Mair’s own words against him, asking if he truly believes that the science of climate change “should not be up for debate.”
The ensuing back-and-forth is entertaining (or embarrassing if you’re a fan of Mr. Mair). When pressed, a man of character would have backed away from such a ridiculous assertion. After all, closing off areas of science to continuous inquiry flies in the face of the scientific method. Such a tactic might work for a cult leader, but not for someone claiming the mantle of science.
Mair hid behind a claim that “97% of scientists” agree that man-made global warming is happening. I didn’t need the skills of Dr. Lightman to understand his body language: He was lying and he knew it. After all, the 97% figure was long ago discredited. Back in 2013 Mike Hulme, Ph.D. Professor of Climate Change at University of East Anglia, asserted:
“The ‘97% consensus’ article is poorly conceived, poorly designed and poorly executed. It…is a sign of the desperately poor level of public and policy debate…It seems to me that these people are still living (or wishing to live) in the pre-2009 world of climate change discourse. Haven’t they noticed that public understanding of the climate issue has moved on?
Apparently not, at least in Mair’s case. But don’t take Dr. Hulme’s word, look it up. Even advocates of the “97%” figure admit that it represents the views of only 79 out of 3,146 people responding to a two-question online survey conducted by a university student and her Master’s thesis advisor. Those 79 respondents were carefully selected from that targeted group to achieve the remarkable “consensus” statistic. Lie to me…
If straight-faced lying were limited to presidents of partisan advocacy groups, we might not have much to worry about. Unfortunately, habitual dissembling extends to at least one person wishing to be President of the United States. And one of her supporters sees lying as a job qualification.
Of course, Vox writer Matthew Yglesias didn’t put it quite that way. But he came awfully close. In his recent essay, “Emailgate is a political problem for Hillary Clinton, but it also reveals why she’d be an effective president,” he wrote:
“From her adventures in cattle trading to chairing a policymaking committee in her husband’s White House to running for Senate in a state she’d never lived in to her effort to use superdelegates to overturn 2008 primary results to her email servers, Clinton is clearly more comfortable than the average person with violating norms and operating in legal gray areas.”
“Violating norms” is a nice way saying “being deceitful.” (How many times has Hillary changed her story about those pesky email servers?) Yglesias admits that “Committed Democrats and liberal-leaning interest groups are facing a reality in which any policy gains they achieve are going to come through the profligate use of executive authority”…and Clinton “knows where the levers of power lie, and she is comfortable pulling them, procedural niceties be damned.” Some of us call those “procedural niceties” the Constitution of the United States.
Are we so far down the Machiavellian path we no longer care if the person we elect as Chief Executive and military Commander-in-Chief means it when swearing to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution”? Is advancing a partisan agenda more important than preserving the letter and spirit of the document separating us from banana republics and autocratic dystopias?
Our current president was praised by the late Banana Despot Hugo Chavez (“If I were American, I’d vote for Obama.”) Are we as a nation seriously contemplating electing another president who would receive the Chavez seal of approval?
Ken can be reached at email@example.com