The Spectacle Blog

Obama Invents New Way of Lying

By on 6.23.08 | 11:41AM

From a recent Fortune interview:

With the primary contest over, I asked Obama to clarify his remarks on NAFTA. "I think that sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified," he concedes. Did his? "Politicians are always guilty of that, and I don't exempt myself." During a debate before the Texas and Ohio primaries, Obama said, "We should use the hammer of a potential opt-out" to force Canada and Mexico to renegotiate NAFTA. Now, however, he says he doesn't plan to unilaterally reopen NAFTA, that he had just spoken with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper that morning (Harper had called to congratulate him on the nomination), and that "I'm looking forward to a conversation with him. I'm a big believer in opening up a dialogue and figuring out how we can make this work for all people."
(Emphasis mine.)

While your typical lying politician will at least say something along the lines of "I misspoke," Obama takes it to a new level. He describes his lie in the passive voice, saying, "rhetoric gets overheated and amplified" as if he has no agency, like an exasperated child caught stealing Hostess cupcakes from the school cafeteria who explains, "but everybody was doing it!" Keep in mind that during the primaries, at the time in question, Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee had visited Canada and told them that his anti-NAFTA rhetoric was just about election time pandering for votes in Ohio. Back then, the Obama campaign vigorously pushed back against the story, but now we see that it was absolutely accurate. It's one thing if in the midst of a debate, or a fierce exchange with a reporter, a candidate loses it and says something nasty. That's getting "overheated." But a calculated and sustained effort to win over anti-trade liberal voters in a Democratic primary by bashing NAFTA incessantly, only to say later that you didn't really mean it, is an entirely different phenomenon. Obama wants to usher in a "new kind of politics," and now we're learning that what he really means is that he'd devise new ways to lie.

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