Bryan Caplan  

Good Question

Portfolios of the Poor:... You, Too, Could be Doing This...
From my chairman, Don Boudreaux:
This afternoon you interviewed a pundit who claims to be "inspired" by the way that Bill and Hillary Clinton, having been so critical of Barack Obama during the presidential primary campaign, now work so agreeably with him.  I'm not inspired; I'm suspicious.  Were the Clintons lying during the campaign?  Or are they lying now?
This is one of the many questions I'd like to pose to folks like Brad DeLong, who spent years pointing out Bush's dishonesty as if the man was some kind of pioneer.  I'll admit that politicians lie to different degrees.  Maybe Bush was a bigger liar than most; if 25% of Republicans said so, I'd believe it.  But all successful politicians are big liars by the absolute standard we routinely apply to the people we personally know.

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COMMENTS (9 to date)
david writes:

Perhaps there is a difference in the kinds of things they lied about.

Besides that, even if most politicians on both sides of the fence lie until their tongues turn blue, it's still worth calling them out for it.

fundamentalist writes:

Bryan doesn't understand the rules of the game. For the left, Republicans are liars by definition. Democrats cannot be liars, by definition even if they tell lies. For example, former CBS anchor Dan Rather said of Clinton after his perjury before a grand jury that Clinton had told lies, but that didn't make him a liar.

JH writes:

With the Clintons, I think it's safe to assume they are always lying.

Greg Ransom writes:

It's important to make the vital distinction between liars and BSers -- see philosopher Harry Frankfurt's famous essay "On Bullshit".

Obama is a BSer -- Bush, not so much. Bush, well, not even a good liar.

Obama -- awesome BSer, which means he's rarely a liar at all.

Matt writes:

I don't think the Clinton's are being disingenuous. While the Obama administration is in office they'll be loyal, ignoring differences in public, and afterward they'll admit what those were. I'm not any more suspicious now that they've seemingly forgot their objections to him.
I'm not inspired either. Working well with the man in power is self interested.

John writes:

The Clintons weren't lying - they were just "framing" the truth differently. :)

Methinks writes:

Gentlemen, I can't possibly be asked to answer the question until the meaning of "is" is finally and conclusively determined.

Dave writes:

The real question should be, "Why do people continue to vote for people they know are liars?" Obama is Bill Clinton 2.0 - totally inept and in over his head, but loved by the media and good performer on TV. Every word that he reads off his teleprompter is either a lie or a half truth. But the media loves him so he is never called on anything. Also he is untouchable because of his race.

JackofSpades writes:

As the writers of South Park so perfectly stated through the specter of Rob Reiner, "Sometimes lying is okay, like when you know what's good for people more than they do."

There is no denying that Obama lied through his teeth during the campaign regarding his intentions toward NAFTA. But, so be it, because what mattered was that he gained the support needed to get elected and can now get to the important work of blah blah blah...

I think 90% of the reason why politicians lies are forgiven is based on the ends justifying the means. The left supports Obama's ends so they turn a blind eye to his means, even though they scream bloody murder when Republicans do the same thing (and they do).

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