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Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them.
August 27, 2003 12:36 PM   Subscribe

Lies and the Lying Presidents Who Tell Them. The Washington Monthly publishes its "mendacity index" of the last four U.S. presidents, ranking their overall history (and severity) of lying. TWM's site also lets you rate them yourself, just in case ranking the 20 worst Americans got boring.
posted by XQUZYPHYR (44 comments total)

 
You young whippersnappers don't know lying liars from a hole in the ground. All these guys are mendacity amateurs compared to Nixon, Johnson and Kennedy.
posted by jfuller at 12:43 PM on August 27, 2003


Now hold on just a minute.

The [X] Administration lied to us?

Now I'm pissed!
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:48 PM on August 27, 2003


mr_crash_davis, why do you hate [X]?
posted by eyeballkid at 12:49 PM on August 27, 2003


GenericPoliticalArgumentFilter.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:58 PM on August 27, 2003


Speaking as a Rwandan, I have to say I regard Clinton's lying about plo chops to the good people of the USA to be much worse than not helping us out of that massacre thingy, clearly invalidating this obvious Republican conspiracy theory.
posted by biffa at 12:59 PM on August 27, 2003


I think their mendacity ratings are somehow inverseley connected to their college GPAs, or something. Because Bush is the stupidest, and the liarest.
posted by zekinskia at 1:01 PM on August 27, 2003


Oh dear, has anyone told 111 about this?
posted by Outlawyr at 1:12 PM on August 27, 2003


"A few months ago, I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that's true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not." -Ronald Reagan

What a classic.
posted by pitchblende at 1:13 PM on August 27, 2003


See now? I knew Bush was a winner.

The page is great though, lots of comedic gold if it weren't for the fact that these were our Commanders in Chief, now it just makes me kind of sad.

And think about how the scores would change if they included vice presidents? I think ol' Danny Quayle would set a new highwater mark.

Is it lying or just stupidity?
posted by fenriq at 1:15 PM on August 27, 2003


Hmm. I really like this, and I do think that the current President Bush is the lyingest liar who ever lied, but I think these ratings are a little subjective.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 1:17 PM on August 27, 2003


Would have been better if one could rank EACH fib individually rather than having to rate the person's lies overall.
posted by terrapin at 1:18 PM on August 27, 2003


"In England, if a criminal carried a gun, even though he didn't use it, he was tried for first-degree murder and hung if he was found guilty," Ronald Reagan claimed in April 1982. When informed that the story was "just not true," White House spokesman Larry Speakes said, "Well, it's a good story, though. It made the point, didn't it?" Reagan repeated the story again on March 21, 1986 during an interview with The New York Times.

poor Mike McCurry. sometimes all you need is a lot of chutzpah, and you're home free
posted by matteo at 1:22 PM on August 27, 2003


That article has a "chip on the shoulder" index of around 8.
posted by clevershark at 1:23 PM on August 27, 2003


Good page and fun reading, although it is debatable whether a broken promise or a failed prediction is a lie. Example:

Bush [Sr] predicted that, if he was elected, "the Congress will push me to raise taxes, [...] and I'll say to them, 'Read my lips: no new taxes."

Would we expect him not to raise taxes, no matter what happened? Just sticking up for the politicians, because I know no-one else will :-)
posted by Triplanetary at 1:24 PM on August 27, 2003


Would we expect him not to raise taxes, no matter what happened?

What happened that caused him to have to raise taxes?
posted by sreilly at 1:34 PM on August 27, 2003


*sigh* Thank goodness this thread is off to a lighthearted start - but in an effort to head off any seriousness:

Oh, dear! A politician lied! Oh, dear! We've been mislead! Oh, dear our political leaders are not altruistic, forward thinking, honorable, and honest?

Puh-leaze.

Head back to the 1860s to read Lincoln's double talk about slavery, depending on whether he was campaigning in the North or in the South. Go listen to McKinley's reasons for going to war in 1896. Read the monumental amount of bologna that F. Roosevelt spilt, especially when it came to packing the Supreme Court. And so on, and so forth.

It's not just George W., Bill C., and Ronnie R. who are the consummate liars (they're just really, *really* good at it). Now, if you really want talent, I say you should question the PRESS SECRETARIES.

As far as that goes, I give Ari Fleischer an "A+" for keeping a straight face for as long as he did.
posted by tgrundke at 1:38 PM on August 27, 2003


Outlawyr, I'm still trying to cope with the unacceptable fact that someone could possibly claim that William Jefferson Clinton has ever told a lie. How dare they?

Of course, that list couldn't possibly have selected data in order to make Bush II the biggest liar, now could it? I mean, just to satisfy readers' traditional dislike for the President du jour? Naa, that's unthinkable.

Please take some time to consider this: rather than misinforming or passing along imprecise information, of all the Presidents mentioned, which one has deliberately told a complete, total lie in the face of the American public and Justice? Which one has suppressed his conscience and his duties in order to make a totally false statement?

History will judge these men, their shortcomings and accomplishments-- let's see what it will say.
posted by 111 at 1:41 PM on August 27, 2003


Winner: Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf
posted by linux at 1:44 PM on August 27, 2003


History will judge these men, their shortcomings and accomplishments-- let's see what it will say.

"Who are the idiots who voted for these guys anyway? Bush vs. Gore when they had McCain and Bradley to chose from? What a bunch of fucknuts our ancestors were. Thank goodness the slimecrawlers from Andromeda came to civilize us..."
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:47 PM on August 27, 2003


History will judge these men, their shortcomings and accomplishments-- let's see what it will say.

"If those four horsemen had made balancing the budget a priority, the United States of America wouldn't have declared insolvency in 2025. Don't you think so, Morris? Why do you think the American people pay attention? Oh, and pass me one of those Cubans."
posted by ed at 1:47 PM on August 27, 2003


"History will judge these men"

Why wait. Dubya is a liar with a simian smirk.
Hey, here's one they missed. Seems to me I recall Dubya struttin' around some big boat with a banner reading "Mission Accomplished" over there in Iraq. Trouble is, more soldiers have died since then than died during the accomplished mission. Odd. Victory is pretty rough.
posted by Outlawyr at 1:57 PM on August 27, 2003


: rather than misinforming or passing along imprecise information, of all the Presidents mentioned, which one has deliberately told a complete, total lie in the face of the American public and Justice?

the worst of all Nixon's "I'm not a crook", ├ža va sans dire. Too bad the list starts in the Eighties

But the link offers some other "good complete total lies":
Reagan's of course -- the Iran-Contras bald-faced lie and his ridiculous "my heart and my best intentions".

and W's heartless lies about the gutting of AmeriCorps is a close second.

Unless of course you think that Clinton is Satan, in that case the blowjob thing will do it for you. You know, he also murdered Vince Foster and Ron Brown.

In other news, the IMF "is set to reproach the U.S. for being too optimistic in its assumptions on government spending and revenue, and lacking a coherent budget plan, according to Reuters. The IMF draft report also says that the U.S. lacks "a medium-term concept to consolidate budgets and reform the social insurance system."

But within the U.S., there is a sharp dispute as to where the deficit will be in five years, with the White House saying it will decline to just $62 billion. The CBO says it will be close to $200 billion, or just over $300 billion if recently enacted temporary tax cuts are made permanent. Some private-sector analyses have basically concurred with the CBO analysis. Goldman Sachs (nyse: GS - news - people ) projects $4.5 trillion in deficits. Economists at Citigroup (nyse: C - news - people ), Merrill Lynch (nyse: MER - news - people ) and Credit Suisse First Boston all told Bloomberg News they don't see a government surplus returning any time in the next decade".

posted by matteo at 2:12 PM on August 27, 2003


Victory is pretty rough.

indeed. and no end to victory in sight.
posted by quonsar at 2:15 PM on August 27, 2003


Sure, Nixon and the deficit. That's precisely what this thread is all about.
posted by 111 at 2:16 PM on August 27, 2003


Victory's a bitch, and she's back in heat.
posted by ed at 2:20 PM on August 27, 2003


sometimes all you need is a lot of chutzpah, and you're home free

And sometimes *cough* you get a $90,000 fine and a contempt citation from one of your own judicial appointees. *cough*

Oh, and disbarment.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:34 PM on August 27, 2003


which one has deliberately told a complete, total lie in the face of the American public and Justice? Which one has suppressed his conscience and his duties in order to make a totally false statement?

Just because W. believed he was right in doing what he did and saying what he said doesn't mean it's ok, nor that it wasn't a lie.
posted by agregoli at 2:39 PM on August 27, 2003


which one has deliberately told a complete, total lie in the face of the American public and Justice?

Which one hasn't? it'd make the list shorter.
posted by clevershark at 2:52 PM on August 27, 2003


"Nixon and the deficit. That's precisely what this thread is all about."

Exactly, I'm glad you agree. It's about Presidents who lie, therefore, I mean, Nixon is so much on topic -- he lied so much he had to resign, only case in history (and he had to ask his buddies to pardon him otherwise he'd have ended up in jail -- much worse than disbarment huh?)

and the deficit? well, George W. Bush lied so often about the deficit (and the tax cuts) that linking to all the budget-related lies would eat up all this thread. contact me by email if you need any links, 111! thanks!
posted by matteo at 3:10 PM on August 27, 2003


What happened that caused him to have to raise taxes?

I may be misremembering the timing of events and what not but wasn't it Gulf War I?

History will judge these men, their shortcomings and accomplishments-- let's see what it will say.

So far it's looking like 3 trillion in debt for Reagan and about 10 trillion for Bush II.
posted by aaronscool at 3:14 PM on August 27, 2003


It's about Presidents who lie, therefore, I mean, Nixon is so much on topic -- he lied so much he had to resign, only case in history

OK then. For the sake of historical thoroghness, let's go all the way back to Washington and "father, I cannot tell a lie" etc etc

George W. Bush lied so often about the deficit (and the tax cuts)

Considering the crystal ball certainty with which you predict the outcome of Bush's economic policies, I may consult you after all for some lotto numbers or something like that.
posted by 111 at 3:36 PM on August 27, 2003


thoroughness
posted by 111 at 3:37 PM on August 27, 2003


Considering the crystal ball certainty with which you predict the outcome of Bush's economic policies, I may consult you after all for some lotto numbers or something like that.

I'm sure in 2005 when the economy is still reeling beneath the record deficit legacy of the Bush administration, 111 will not hold the first term Democratic president responsible for the unholy fruition of the Bush tax cuts and wars....
posted by sic at 3:47 PM on August 27, 2003


Which one has suppressed his conscience and his duties in order to make a totally false statement?

"I brought Republicans and Democrats together ... in the state of Texas, to get a patients' bill of rights through."

He vetoed that bill.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:49 PM on August 27, 2003


Dear dear dear 111, how can you so totally ignore the fact that this lie index, this "mendacity" which relates to the front page post is entirely based not on the number of lies, nor on the gross nature of each individual lie, but rather on the weight of the lie which stains the Presidency? Yes, Clinton boldly lied about getting a plo-chop, and then had to admit to his carnal lust in front of the American people (interupting a good football game which pissed me off more than anything). Dubya, has told meager lies that have caused American soldiers to die (and continue to die) based on vapor, that he obviously knew was vapor, when he told the lies. Yes, of course Clinton is the worst liar. After all, his hummer cost us all 50 to 75 million (substantial amount spent before he ever got the blowjob from Lewinsky). Bush's Iraq lies have only cost us ... what again? (In life and dollors if you please, 'cause I think you're cowardly enough to try and twist that truth as well.)
posted by Wulfgar! at 4:03 PM on August 27, 2003


"But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong. We found them." -- George W. Bush, May 30, 2003

"We gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in and he wouldn't let them in. " -- George W. Bush, July 14, 2003
posted by kirkaracha at 4:18 PM on August 27, 2003


Liar lie lie liar you lie lie lie lie
I think you're funny, you're funny ha ha
I don't need it don't need your blah blah
should've realized I know what you are
you're in SUSPENSION you're a LIAR
you're a LIAR
you're a LIIIIII...urgh...

posted by scody at 4:46 PM on August 27, 2003


I'd love to see this weighted on the severity of the lie. Black Churches and the Iowa Caucus? So many Americans died for those fibs, I'm glad that guy is gone! Phew!

Now I must build a bunker for when the N. Korean terrorists attack! Go team Bush!
posted by skallas at 5:00 PM on August 27, 2003


jonmc: Kennedy was never what you'd called "regular folks." Did Nixon have that "common touch." Not just no, but hell no. I talked with my mother about Nixon's popularity. She said you just had to be there - it's inexplicable now.

(Long pause, gathers thoughts.) OK, they virtually tied in 1960. Also, JFK's popularity was not as high before his death as after it. But I think the whole regular folks thing is a social expectations thing - you gotta be born in a log cabin like Lincoln, say - that was been built up over time and is constantly reinforced by the media. Even Adlai Stevenson tried to play up his supposed Jeffersonian love of rurality and regular folksy-hood.

By contrast, JFK never did any such thing. He didn't seem to give the impression that he'd want to have a beer with you, much less that you'd want to have one with him. Maybe a scotch and water, but not a beer. But he made his way to the White House anyway.
posted by raysmj at 5:36 PM on August 27, 2003


Considering the crystal ball certainty with which you predict the outcome of Bush's economic policies, I may consult you after all for some lotto numbers or something like that.

Um... cutting taxes + increasing spending = bigger deficits.

That wasn't so hard.
posted by nath at 5:47 PM on August 27, 2003


I loved what Kim Campbell (Canadian Prime Minister for a few months after Brian Mulroney resigned, until she lost the next election to Chretien) said when she was asked if she had ever smoked pot - this was around the time of the whole Clinton "I didn't inhale" fiasco. She said, "Yes I did. And I inhaled the smoke." And we all moved merrily along to the next, more important topic.

The public doesn't forgive lies. Mistakes yes, lies no. Everyone makes mistakes, but lies are a betrayal of trust. Politicians need to learn this, and they also need to learn that they'll never get away with lies when their every word and action is documented.

But Bush is much, much worse than Clinton. Clinton mostly lied to get himself off the hook for trivial things. Bush mostly lies to get the American populace to go along with the things he wants to do. Big, big difference.
posted by orange swan at 8:06 PM on August 27, 2003


Oh, I'm sorry. I thought I was posting to another thread. Happened after my computer locked up and I got all frustrated. Anyway, a million apologies! Although no one seemed to notice, really.
posted by raysmj at 8:59 PM on August 27, 2003


its not the fumbling lies that concern me ... its what is not being said at all, that concerns me (and should concern you too)
posted by specialk420 at 10:35 PM on August 27, 2003


Someone has actually been keeping a list and documenting all the lies of Duhbya.

It's a long, long, long list!
posted by nofundy at 7:48 AM on August 28, 2003


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