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Why do politicians tell “pork pies”?

It’s not a question of if they do, it’s a fact, the question is why?

Maybe they are not “porkies” merely untruths. Or maybe they are “porkies” cloaked as broken promises, something which Benjamin Netanyahu is renowned for – “Why do right-wing voters accept those broken promises with no consequences?”

What is the difference between an untruth and a lie?

And, what is the difference between lying and misleading? And does it matter if our politicians don't always manage to stay on the right side of the line?

The Internet contains dozens if not hundreds of articles and opinions on the subject and its various variations on the theme.

A simple definition could be; "If I tell you something that is not true, and I am fully aware that it is not true, then what I tell you is a lie. However, if I tell you something that is not true, and I am not aware that it is not true, then what I tell you is an untruth’.

A fine line maybe?

What about ‘lying by omission’, also known as a continuing misrepresentation or quote mining. This frequently occurs when an important fact is left out in order to foster a misconception. Lying by omission includes the failure to correct pre-existing misconceptions. For example, when the seller of a car declares it has been serviced regularly but does not mention that a fault was reported during the last service, the seller lies by omission. It may be compared to dissimulation. An omission is when a person tells most of the truth but leaves out a few key facts that, therefore, completely obscures the truth.

(The above paragraph sounds like something Sir Humphry Appleby would have said to his Minister as a way of explanation regarding a fine point of government.)

Politicians often invoke, sometimes without even knowing it, ‘a noble lie, which can also be referred to as a strategic untruth. For example, a statement that normally would cause discord if uncovered, but offers some benefit to the liar and assists in an orderly society, therefore, potentially being beneficial to others. It is often told to maintain law, order, and safety.

Seinfeld’s George Costanza believed "It's not a lie if you believe it."

The above Costanza quote, as well as the paragraph proceeding it, could well be classed as “Trumpism”.

It is widely acknowledged by the US media, the exception would appear to be Fox News and several far-right news outlets, that Donald J. Trump is a past-master at deception, untruths, spin, - the list goes on and on.

A July 13, 2020, article reports that “President Trump has made more than 20,000 false or misleading claims”.

Given Trump’s lack of moral fortitude and therefore almost be default his perpetuance to disseminate falsehoods, it hardly surprising that the Washington Post and many other media outlets are constantly ‘fact-checking’ him. The sad part is of course that many in the US, believe his rhetoric.

Benjamin Netanyahu can be accused of many things, but being a fool is not one of them. And yet Netanyahu says Trump is "the greatest friend" that Israel has ever had in the White House”.

What in private, what does Netanyahu think of Trump? What, if any, thoughts does he share with Sara?

Many media reports assert that Donald Trump's use of grammar 'typical of children aged 11 and under'. Just maybe in private Trump speaks differently, although according to various sources his vocabulary and thought process is limited. So how can Netanyahu, a well educated, highly intelligent individual, relate to Trump?

There are so many examples of Trump’s use of language, grammar, and speech on the Internet, here’s one from the past 24 hours. In addition to the gutter-level delivery, (actually, maybe sewer-level is more apt) is this the way that a US president conducts himself? Name-calling, belittling people, insinuations, disparaging comments, and the list goes on and on. ‘Trump rants at Fox news insults Kamala Harris and more slurryslurr made up racket Mankato, MN’.

The following headline, again from the past 24 hours is a prime example of how Trump, and politicians in general, bend the facts to make a specific point, regardless of the damage it does to the truth.

Trump says he moved US embassy to Jerusalem ‘for the evangelicals’ US President on campaign tour of battleground Midwest states says evangelical Christians ‘more excited’ about his support for Israel than Jewish people”.

According to the above report “evangelicals have for decades comprised just over 40 percent of the (US) population.

How will Trump deliver the same message to a Jewish audience? How will he twist the facts to meet that requirement?

Behind the scenes, what do Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, and others at Fox News think of Trump? The proverbial ‘fly-on-the-wall’ could tell us so much.

I read somewhere recently on the Internet that some people do not go into politics because they know, in advance, that at some point they will have to lie, or at least tell an untruth.

A story from many years ago. A pub in the English Lake District, ever year ran a National Storytelling Competition. Whoever could tell the biggest believable whopper was considered the winner. On the poster announcing the competition and inviting participants to register was a line of small print barring politicians from participating in the contest. It was a given that politicians are professional storytellers.

OK, so the big question is why do politicians lie?

It’s worth taking the time to read the thoughts of John Mearsheimer. His 2011 book, Why Leaders Lie: The Truth About Lying in International Politics, should be mandatory reading for all voters prior to an election.

Bottom line, politicians lie, tell untruths for several reasons. Some, like Trump, are narcissists. Others know that their followers will believe them, even in the face of irrefutable evidence to the contrary. Look at Trump’s rant yesterday in Mankato, MN. Do Trump’s supports earnestly believe that he, Trump, has a divine conduit to the Almighty and that the Almighty communications with him? Trump spins the story and his dimwitted supports lap-up the tale. It’s reminiscent of the Hans Christian Anderson tale of the Kings New Clothes. People believe what they want to believe, regardless of the facts, or the truth.

So regardless of whether it’s Donald Trump. Boris Johnson, Benjamin Netanyahu, or hundreds of thousands of other politicians across the globe, we, Joe Public, need to understand and appreciate that the vast majority of politicians, by the very nature of their profession, are natural-born liars.

They spin their lies, and we eat them up, like a drowning man grasping for air.

It’s all a question of degrees.


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