Poll: Is it okay for a president to lie?

posted at 12:31 pm on November 18, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

When I first saw this brief headline at Outside the Beltway I almost moved on because it sounded like such a silly premise. Is it ever okay for the President to lie? It’s a question that Doug Mataconis originally picked up from Dave Schuler. Clearly my gut reactions to questions aren’t always right, or at least in this case there might be a bit more to the question than meets the eye. First, Doug expands on the subject.

The gut reaction of course is that it’s never okay for any elected official to lie to the American people. At the same time, though, it does kind of depend on what the definition of “lie” happens to be. Is it a lie to fail to disclose classified data that would embarrass the Administration, but which would also potentially place American intelligence agents and assets in danger? What if it was a lie that, if not spoken,would endanger national security?

Schuler offers a pop quiz style selection of four possible answers:

- Never
- Whenever he feels it’s necessary—it’s one of the things he was elected to do
- When lives are at stake
- Some other circumstances?

So my initial reaction was simply, “hell no.” But with even a few moments of thought the question became a little more complicated. So let’s find out where people stand on this, but first there should be a couple of ground rules which could help prevent at least some muddying of the waters.

Being wrong is not the same thing as lying. The term lying implies an intention to deceive. Saying something you believe to be true which later proves to be incorrect is not lying.

Incorrect predictions are not lies. We can eliminate any statements made which involve things which have not yet happened. You can claim that “raising taxes on the rich will solve our nation’s economic problems” and not be lying. You’ll probably turn out to be hilariously inaccurate, but you weren’t lying.

Generalizations and outrageous opinions are not lies. You are free to say that liberals hate America or that conservatives hate poor people and minorities if you wish. You probably won’t be taken very seriously, but it doesn’t pass muster as a “lie.”

So let’s restrict this to statements about past events or existing conditions which the speaker can rationally be demonstrated to have knowledge of. Of course we expect – or at least wish for – honesty and transparency from our president. But are there exceptions to that rule?

The first one that comes to mind is in the case of operational secrets regarding military action or intelligence operatives. I suppose an answer of “no comment” would be more honest, but I can also imagine times where you would want to throw off the enemy by engaging in a disinformation campaign. You can always clear the air later with the American people and explain why you did it.

But, as Doug asks, what if it’s a lie for political convenience? How about lies regarding personal, private behavior unrelated to the job? (So, you “did not have sexual relations with that woman.” Okie dokey.) What if it’s just something that you’re embarrassed about but which doesn’t substantively affect anyone else? Let’s put it to a vote, but we’ll change Dave’s options a bit.


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Anyway on a more serious note, who cares about this non story? The only ones who care are they same people who voted for the loser last week Tuesday. Irrelevant people.
 
HotAirLib on November 16, 2012 at 6:03 PM

rogerb on November 18, 2012 at 12:33 PM

I’ts not ok with m,e but I suspect the mindless masses that elected him couldn’t care less if he lies as long as they get their free handouts.

rplat on November 18, 2012 at 12:34 PM

The fact the question is even asked, is submission enough.

FlaMurph on November 18, 2012 at 12:34 PM

I don’t trust politicians to make the judgment call about when lying is “in the best interest” of anything. It’s never in the best interest. “No comment” if you must, but misleading the American public is always unacceptable.

Timin203 on November 18, 2012 at 12:37 PM

this is the great mistake…

If people are amoral enough to vote for someone because he gives goodies…. why would those people care how he got those goodies in the first place, whether he lied or not is completely inconsequential.

lm10001 on November 18, 2012 at 12:37 PM

This goes to whether you think the president is our ruler, or our employee.

Conservatives think the president is our employee, and who would tolerate lies from someone in your employ?

Liberals think the president is our employee when it’s a republican president, if it’s a democrat they consider them a God-King who can do whatever the hell they want – especially if it sticks it to the white middle class.

Rebar on November 18, 2012 at 12:38 PM

I’ts not ok with m,e but I suspect the mindless masses that elected him couldn’t care less if he lies as long as they get their free handouts.

rplat on November 18, 2012 at 12:34 PM

People will tolerate almost anything for free stuff. And, let’s just say it, they LOVE thinking that they screwed someone else out of their money.

clnurnberg on November 18, 2012 at 12:38 PM

Romney was right and Goopers should just shut up about the rich and “their toys” or the illegal dreamers.

clnurnberg on November 18, 2012 at 12:40 PM

No! If the truth is classified or puts people at risk, give a reason why you can’t answer it. And if you must lie, explain the truth at the first moment that you can. A little contradictory, but we must expect the best from our leaders.

nazarioj001 on November 18, 2012 at 12:41 PM

Although I was initially going to vote “No,” I ended up voting for “Only to save lives regarding military or intelligence operations.” I could see a reporter asking a President as to whether or not it was true that operatives were currently in a country like, say, Pakistan, violating their territory and hunting for a terrorist (and we could also assume that the Pakistanis turn more hostile and say that anyone in the country that’s unauthorized to be there will be shot).

I’m not sure how a president could successfully evade such a question without giving away that there really is an operation underway and still tell the truth. Sometimes comments like “No comment,” although the literal meaning of their words don’t give anything away, immediate prompt some game theoretic analysis of the circumstances by adversaries and could compromise operatives anyway.

Stoic Patriot on November 18, 2012 at 12:41 PM

bho/team would never be able to open their mouths if a lie wasn’t coming out! I’m not sure I have ever seen such a dishonest bunch?
L

letget on November 18, 2012 at 12:43 PM

Only if he’s a democratic, and double plus good if he’s a black democratic.

slickwillie2001 on November 18, 2012 at 12:43 PM

You can claim that “raising taxes on the rich will solve our nation’s economic problems” and not be lying.

Umm… no you can’t….not a president anyway.

xblade on November 18, 2012 at 12:44 PM

Interesting book on ethics published in 1933…

THE MEANING OF RIGHT AND WRONG

BY RICHARD C. CABOT, M.D.

workingclass artist on November 18, 2012 at 12:44 PM

SURE !!! (as long as he’s a Demoncrap)

cableguy615 on November 18, 2012 at 12:45 PM

It really depends on whether the POTUS is a D or an R…now doesn’t it?

d1carter on November 18, 2012 at 12:46 PM

I say no, if lying is “required” that is what surogates are for.

But what do I know I never voted for him, his sychophant supporters will feign ignorance anyway.

D-fusit on November 18, 2012 at 12:48 PM

This goes to whether you think the president is our ruler, or our employee.

Conservatives think the president is our employee, and who would tolerate lies from someone in your employ?

Liberals Libertines think the president is our employee when it’s a republican president, if it’s a democrat they consider them a God-King who can do whatever the hell they want – especially if it sticks it to the white middle class.

Rebar on November 18, 2012 at 12:38 PM

fify

workingclass artist on November 18, 2012 at 12:48 PM

Rather than debate the meaning of “is”:

Was the lie told to:

Cover up bad policy?
Cover up corruption?
Cover up cronyism?
Cover up a bad decision?
Cover up a cover up?

THEN IT’S A FREAKING LIE AND YOU SHOULD GET HAMMERED FOR IT!

GarandFan on November 18, 2012 at 12:49 PM

Being wrong is not the same thing as lying. The term lying implies an intention to deceive. Saying something you believe to be true which later proves to be incorrect is not lying.

This is why the “Bush lied, people died” meme was never true.

The Rogue Tomato on November 18, 2012 at 12:50 PM

I don’t approve of the government lying to Americans at any time, but I can understand that many might support the “only to save lives regarding military or intelligence operations” choice. My problem with this is, at least in this case, is that there are lies of omission and lies of commission.

The Obama Administration could have easily said “We don’t know what happened in Benghazi or why, which is why it is under investigation.” That’s a lie of omission. The problem is that the Administration did NOT go that route. It deliberately chose to endanger the lives of a filmmaker, his family, his supporters and their family, those associated with the film and provoked protests and violence throughout the world. The best PR that “The Innocence of Muslims” ever received came from the Obama Administration.

The Administration and the MSM keep saying that Benghazi was just part of this “global, spontaneous protests against the video.” It bears repeating that there were ONLY TWO protests/attacks on American missions on the 11th anniversary of any note: Cairo and Benghazi.

Look at the dates of the protests in other countries:

Yemen: 14 September
Greece: 23 September
Sudan: 14 September
Tunisia: 14 September
India: 14 September
Indonesia: 17 September
Pakistan: 14 September
Lebanon: 17 September
Kenya: 16 September
Mauritius: 25 September
Nigeria: 22 September
South Africa: 8 October
Sudan: 12 September
Tanzania: 21 September
Bangladesh: 13(attempted)/21/23/September
Hong Kong: 24 September
Philippines: 15 September
Sri Lanka: 21 September
Thailand: 27 September
France: 15 September
Belgium: 16 September
Germany: 21/22 September
Italy: 23 September
Macedonia: 23 September
Netherlands: 14 September
Russia: 26 September
Switzerland: 23 September
UK: 14 September
Iran: 12 September
Iraq: 13 September

Seriously, if the Obama administration wanted to tamp down youtube video-related violence, it just should have shut up, already. The more it spoke about the idiotic video, the more the protests and violence spread. Some countries didn’t even see their first protests until Obama went to the UN and blamed the video 6 times.

It was the Obama Administration’s LIES that helped cause the deaths that occurred in the wake of Benghazi.

Resist We Much on November 18, 2012 at 12:50 PM

Only if he’s a democratic, and double plus good if he’s a black democratic.

slickwillie2001 on November 18, 2012 at 12:43 PM

Sorry slick didn’t see your comment til after I posted mine did not mean to plagarize ! LOL

cableguy615 on November 18, 2012 at 12:51 PM

Only when it’s a leftist.

katy on November 18, 2012 at 12:52 PM

I say NO. When it comes to protecting lives, a true President who’s up to the job can give an answer that isn’t a lie but that still protects lives and intelligence and military strategies that don’t need to become public.

stukinIL4now on November 18, 2012 at 12:52 PM

The truth is easiest to remember.

Curtiss on November 18, 2012 at 12:52 PM

Only Jazz Shaw would do this kind of Navel-gazing in the wake of blatant lies that the WH is going to try and say were somehow necessary.

Let’s put this one to bed.

The idea that they lied to us to keep from tipping off AQ that we were on to them does not square with the fact they claimed responsibility on Facebook.

You didn’t have to give up ANYTHING about how we knew it was AQ (sources) and could have pointed to that as why you thought it was AQ

The currant story that they had to lie to protect sources is blantantly BS and they didn’t have to do it. They WANTED to do it.

Conan on November 18, 2012 at 12:52 PM

Well, only if he’s a Democrat. Not a Republican and especially never if it’s a conservative.
Actually, Democrat Presidents should be allowed to lie, cheat and steal. Also ignore the law, make edicts and go around congress whenever congress fails to enact their whims and desires. But never, never should a Republican president be allowed to get away with any of these things. Republican Presidents are dangerous and dictatorial and mad with their lusts for power. Democrats, on the other hand, like Obama, for instance, need the power to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. He can free us from ourselves. Lift the burdens from our shoulders. Burdens like worrying about where our next meal will come from, What’s the best car we should drive. What to teach our children. Whether we should work or not. Own property or not. These are burdens for us and he is willing to take these on himself, to free us from all these bothers. So that we are free to pursue the better greater plans he has for our futures. Plans of relocation and re-education. Re-evaluation of who we are and who our ancestors really were. Relearning our proper place in the world order he is creating.

Honestly, since Republican Presidents are so bad, why even take the chance on getting another one. Lets just keep the Democrat we got. I understand how the founders thought fair and free elections were necessary, but they were racists anyway and, besides, they could never have envisioned in their puny little minds that the perfect President would one day come. Now that we have that man, Obama, lets just keep him.

JellyToast on November 18, 2012 at 12:53 PM

The problem with this option: Only to save lives regarding military or intelligence operations

It didn’t save anyone’s life.

katy on November 18, 2012 at 12:54 PM

When the last (D) President was caught lying red-handed, his (D) national media promptly wrote stories about how lying wasn’t bad, and how it was a character-builder. Remember those stories?

Del Dolemonte on November 18, 2012 at 12:54 PM

Democrats are taught to lie from birth. Rich democrats employ fanatical communist environmentalists to teach their children (the ones not aborted) how to lie and express righteous outrage if questioned. Instead of momma or dadda baby democrats say “it depends on what your definition of is is”.

darwin on November 18, 2012 at 12:56 PM

If lying is OK with the 52%ers, it doesn’t matter what I think about it.

Harbingeing on November 18, 2012 at 1:00 PM

“Lying can be part of a larger strategy. Let the voters judge them on it.”

Seriously? Like lying for a larger strategy of personal gain,ie, coverup, re-election? The problem is you find out they have lied after the damage is done. We have that example today with President “Lie as Much as He Can” Obama. And he wants you to accept lying as A-OK. If you keep lowering the expectations you have for politicians, they will go even lower than you have anticipated.

The number of votes for, “Lying can be part of a larger strategy. Let the voters judge them on it”, tell me that there are a lot of people who want to be lied to. Zero tolerance for lying except to protect our military and intelligence operations and requiring they have a darn good excuse for that lying should be the standard.

Charm on November 18, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Remember when we thought we might actually get a CONSERVATIVE candidate that knew how to communicate CONSERVATIVE values and was telegenic and drive the left nuts?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HjXPnUbzx9w

Alas, apparently it was all just a joke, just a tease, just a lie.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7X7nSxu6pKM&feature=related

So yeah, I guess politicians lie. And we like it.

PappyD61 on November 18, 2012 at 1:00 PM

And let’s not forget if you have an R after your name, truths are lies too. By any means necessary.

clnurnberg on November 18, 2012 at 1:02 PM

The run-up to D-Day was based upon lies. Of course in cases of ongoing national security issues lying is not wrong, it is to be expected.

The problem here is that the message was confused. First they declared it was do to terrorism, then it was a video protest then it was terrorism.

1 Why was our ambassador in Benghazi?
2 Why was his security detail weakened when all intelligence agencies were screaming for increased security?
3 Why was there no organized rescue option in place in a highly unstable and hostile area?

Susan Rice telling a fabricated tale on a Sunday morning is the least part of the whole story.

rbj on November 18, 2012 at 1:02 PM

Conservatives will fail. Not only will truth be construed as lies, they will eviscerate their candidates and never accept incremental measures toward their goals. No candidate is perfect.

clnurnberg on November 18, 2012 at 1:04 PM

No. There is a difference between lying, and non-disclosures. Issues of national security should be non-disclosures, not lies.

NotCoach on November 18, 2012 at 1:06 PM

I hate to say this but under certain circumstances -Yes- the president may have to lie..

depends on what is the circumstance

gerrym51 on November 18, 2012 at 1:06 PM

You said:

Generalizations and outrageous opinions are not lies. You are free to say that liberals hate America or that conservatives hate poor people and minorities if you wish. You probably won’t be taken very seriously, but it doesn’t pass muster as a “lie.”

Bullshit. They’re LIES!

williamg on November 18, 2012 at 1:07 PM

Incorrect predictions are not lies. We can eliminate any statements made which involve things which have not yet happened. You can claim that “raising taxes on the rich will solve our nation’s economic problems” and not be lying. You’ll probably turn out to be hilariously inaccurate, but you weren’t lying.

Hmmm; even if you know that raising taxes on the rich will not solve our nation’s economic problems, because it never has, and always yields the opposite outcome – yet say it anyway because you don’t care, you’re just interested in ‘fairness’ as you’ve stated many times before – wouldn’t *that* be lying?

Midas on November 18, 2012 at 1:09 PM

I hate to say this but under certain circumstances -Yes- the president may have to lie..

depends on what is the circumstance

gerrym51 on November 18, 2012 at 1:06 PM

Name a single circumstance in our history in which a lie by the president was beneficial.

NotCoach on November 18, 2012 at 1:09 PM

“No comment” works pretty well. Politicians don’t have to lie to protect people. They can always just shut their mouths.

DeathtotheSwiss on November 18, 2012 at 1:09 PM

I’m not sure how a president could successfully evade such a question without giving away that there really is an operation underway and still tell the truth. Sometimes comments like “No comment,” although the literal meaning of their words don’t give anything away, immediate prompt some game theoretic analysis of the circumstances by adversaries and could compromise operatives anyway.

Stoic Patriot on November 18, 2012 at 12:41 PM

So what? Our government shouldn’t be involved in anything so sneaky that saying “no comment” is a construed as an affirmative. By that I mean we shouldn’t have troops fighting in any country that we do not have a declared war against or are working actively in a support role with the host government, upon congresses approval. Details of specific battles, etc, can definitely be “no commented” briefly while the need for secrecy is there, but in our globally connected world, there really is no way to keep something secret for very long.

Lying to the American people should be an immediate disqualifier for anyone to be president. The American people need to be informed and able to trust their leaders. Lying to your subjects is what tyrannical governments do.

Timin203 on November 18, 2012 at 1:09 PM

“It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society. When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime.” ~Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

The contempt one has for lies is not as important as the respect one has for the truth.

MichaelGabriel on November 18, 2012 at 1:15 PM

Better question: Is it ever okay for the legacy media to lie..? Or to cover for the POTUS telling a clear lie..?

d1carter on November 18, 2012 at 1:21 PM

Jiminy Cricket is a racist and a sexist. Who is he to question Susan Rice!?

Punchenko on November 18, 2012 at 1:27 PM

Better question yet: “Is it ever okay for the President to lie tell the truth?”

Apparently not for psycho-sociopaths like Clinton and Obama …

ShainS on November 18, 2012 at 1:29 PM

The real question now is who decides what a lie is.

NeoKong on November 18, 2012 at 1:29 PM

I don’t think the president should lie about things that the citizens have a right to know about. This would include a terrorist attack that killed American citizens. Don’t put out some statement that isn’t true that you later have to dance around or retract completely or blame someone else for because, well, you took an oath and people expect to hear the truth from you. They don’t want to hear it from one of your subordinates. Get out in front of the gd American people and make a statement and tell the truth. Not some drummed up politically advantageous statement. The truth. If you’re not capable of doing that, resign. Simple stuff.

scalleywag on November 18, 2012 at 1:30 PM

Unfortunately, with total support ofm the mainstream media, any Democrat can get away with saying anything. The media won’t even cover things like Fast and Furious, which would have significantly increase viewership and readership.

bw222 on November 18, 2012 at 1:31 PM

They were well aware of the potential consequences of their actions but stood strong for dignity, justice and respect.

Yeah, nothing says ‘valuable work skills and great work ethic’ like the word UNION.

You got ‘dignity and justice’ in one hand and $hit in the other..guess what’s for dinner…

Losers.

BigWyo on November 18, 2012 at 1:31 PM

Incorrect predictions are not lies. We can eliminate any statements made which involve things which have not yet happened. You can claim that “raising taxes on the rich will solve our nation’s economic problems” and not be lying.

An incorrect, yet plausible prediction, would not be a lie. A prediction that is proven to be fatally flawed from the onset..does not remain an honest prediction. It is then a lie.

lynncgb on November 18, 2012 at 1:38 PM

1. Being wrong is not the same thing as lying.
2. Incorrect predictions are not lies.
3. Generalizations and outrageous opinions are not lies.

4. Even the most despicable falsehood uttered by a Democrat is only a lie until the media makes it true.

drunyan8315 on November 18, 2012 at 1:39 PM

MichaelGabriel on November 18, 2012 at 1:15 PM

Great quote! I love me some Thomas Paine …

ShainS on November 18, 2012 at 1:47 PM

O/T,
I just found this on Fox=dp has retained a high power lawyer!

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/11/18/petraeus-retains-super-washington-lawyer-barnett-amid-potential-probes/
L

letget on November 18, 2012 at 1:47 PM

Everyone knows he lied about the video now, in the rose garden, on The View, on Letterman, Susan Rice, and then at the UN and certainly in the debate.

I think it is all cover for something bigger, as Broadwell’s dad mentioned. When is it going to come out that the CIA was working with the Libyan rebels loading a ship of arms to Turkey ultimately for the Syrian rebels when Al-Quieda got wind of it and decided to shut it down?

All hypotheses for sure, but why was there the meeting with our ambassador and Turkey’s just before this all happened and why was the CIA Annex there as such a large presence?

Why is the O’Bama admin so worked up to create a false fiction of a video to draw attention from AQ involvement if the “involvement” was a story that is really bad….??

My guess, either the CIA was working with AQ to ship arms to Syria or AQ figured it out and did not want to give us a foothold with the moderate rebels trying to assist.

Starlink on November 18, 2012 at 1:14 PM

Yes. We have to think about schemes being run out of Benghazi that might be worth a massive coverup. Any cooperation with al Qaeda is worth it, so would be a plan to ship Qhudaffi’s weapons to Gaza or hezblahblah.

Shipping weapons from Libya to Turkey to Syria is not that big a deal, unless they foolishly included advanced portable SA missiles. If they did, eventually passenger planes will be falling from the skies and it’ll be on little Bammie’s empty head.

slickwillie2001 on November 18, 2012 at 1:48 PM

…why was there a picture of Pinocchio for the thread… instead of JugEars…our Liar-in-Chief?

KOOLAID2 on November 18, 2012 at 1:50 PM

NO

Better to just say nothing.

Barred on November 18, 2012 at 1:54 PM

Ahh, so now comes the admission that the President lied. Given what happened in the election, can anyone doubt his lie was to cover up his Administration’s incompetence in Benghazi in order to win the election? The voters CAN’T decide when they are being lied to.

Sekhmet on November 18, 2012 at 1:54 PM

What if you have someone thrown in jail to buttress your lie?

Buddahpundit on November 18, 2012 at 1:56 PM

“Lying can be part of a larger strategy. Let the voters judge them on it.”

Seriously? Like lying for a larger strategy of personal gain,ie, coverup, re-election? The problem is you find out they have lied after the damage is done. We have that example today with President “Lie as Much as He Can” Obama. And he wants you to accept lying as A-OK. If you keep lowering the expectations you have for politicians, they will go even lower than you have anticipated.

The number of votes for, “Lying can be part of a larger strategy. Let the voters judge them on it”, tell me that there are a lot of people who want to be lied to. Zero tolerance for lying except to protect our military and intelligence operations and requiring they have a darn good excuse for that lying should be the standard.

Charm on November 18, 2012 at 1:00 PM

I agree.

A President should be held to the same standard about lying that everyone else should: selfless lies, legitimately told to protect others’ lives and reputations, like the one Rahab told in the OT, are acceptable, whereas selfish ones are not to be tolerated under any circumstance.

With that said…I believe that if ever a situation did arise where it was the wisest course of action for a President to lie, it would be better to have someone from his or her administration lie than for the Prez to do it.

Anti-Control on November 18, 2012 at 1:58 PM

I’m looking for the poll that asks the question if it is ever okay to watch Americans get smoked, ask multiple times for aid, and then to let them die.

Will there be one of those?

ted c on November 18, 2012 at 2:06 PM

Is it okay to run guns to Syria via Libya?

Is it okay to run guns to drug cartels and deny you knew anything about it?

ted c on November 18, 2012 at 2:07 PM

0bama lied about Benghazi, mostly because a terrorist attack on the September 11 before the 2012 election, were this the truth generally known, might have done nasty things to the low-info voter chant of “GM is alive, and Al Qaeda’s Dead!” Lying in order to cover incompetence and win an election is wrong, I don’t care how you slice it.

Lies should be reserved for matters of national security and safety. “Defector? What defector? We don’t know anything about that Iranian Army defector who is giving us the low-down on the nuke sites. Shine your tinfoil hat some more, bro…”

Sekhmet on November 18, 2012 at 2:07 PM

A lot of the discussion has had to do with Obama and Benghazi. While that’s certainly a legitimate issue to investigate, in answering the poll I took a bit broader view.

I put myself, in my imagination, back into 1944. Someone – a reporter or congressman – asked the President, “Are you planning an invasion or other similar operation, to take place perhaps on the beaches of Normandy?”

I’d hardly expect – or want – the president to say “well, yeah, and it’s going to happen at such and such a time on such and such a day.” What I hope he’d say is “not even close.” Anything else would be giving info to the enemy.

I thought about the line some have brought up, that he could just say “no comment.” But in that situation, “no comment” would certainly be a tip-off that something was, indeed, coming down.

And, I remembered that the patriots used misinformation quite effectively in the Revolutionary War.

Given that, I couldn’t make the blanket statement that it’s always wrong.

I do believe it has to be used under very limited circumstances, but I felt that “Only to save lives regarding military or intelligence operations” fit that criteria.

psrch on November 18, 2012 at 2:10 PM

Only to save lives, even then I’d prefer Presidents merely to refuse to answer and cite security concerns. The President after all, is meant to be the servant of the people. If the people cannot trust the President to be honest, then the President cannot be trusted at all.

WolvenOne on November 18, 2012 at 2:15 PM

No brainer…the answer is no.

Period..

Tim Zank on November 18, 2012 at 2:20 PM

Bush actually had a good answer to this when asked in his first presidential press conference. He said something like he would be more artful than to lie to the American people if situations arose where the truth might be dangerous to reveal. Although, that might not be the right thing to do if the enemy can always take you at face value by listening in on what you tell the American people.

Israel had a good policy of neither confirming or denying any operations, but they recently denied having anything to do with the possible radiation murder of Arafat. You probably can’t go back once you do that.

Speaking of Arafat, what’s worse than a lie is concealing his involvement in the murder of the US ambassador to Sudan. That’s similar to what is going on in Benghazi. It’s interesting that the US revealed that after Arafat died. Carter and Arafat’s Nobel Prizes are due to the concealment of Arafat ordering the murder of a US ambassador. Now another Nobel Prize winning US president is concealing the true identity of the killer of a US ambassador.

Buddahpundit on November 18, 2012 at 2:22 PM

Name a single circumstance in our history in which a lie by the president was beneficial.

NotCoach on November 18, 2012 at 1:09 PM

When presidents have to pretend to respect Jimmy Carter, and in the future, Barack Obama as some kind of respectful predecessor.

thebrokenrattle on November 18, 2012 at 2:41 PM

I know the following sounds nuts. I have a lot of credentials so I am lucid at times.

I have seen my share of death and wanton betrayal.

The wronged parties usually have their revenge in the end. If they are dead, circumstances just twist and turn and take their toll.

I don’t know if it is Karma, the strange universe of Lord Jim or God moving to get some justice into this valley of pain and tears, but murder will out and strange things happen when the acts taken against the innocent are deplorable enough.

IlikedAUH2O on November 18, 2012 at 2:43 PM

It was the Obama Administration’s LIES that helped cause the deaths that occurred in the wake of Benghazi.

Resist We Much on November 18, 2012 at 12:50 PM

Their lies and election aims also caused the deaths of Benghazi.

Obama lied
People died
It’s all about his election
AmeriKa’s a one big erection

Schadenfreude on November 18, 2012 at 2:49 PM

Did Shep from Fox ghostwrite this column? ‘Cause that’s a lot of handwringing to find reasons to accept lies from our employee in the White House.

bofh on November 18, 2012 at 2:57 PM

Integrity, according to the Marine Corps: Honest and truthful in what you say or do. You put honesty, sense of duty, and sound moral principles above all else.

Lying is an attempt to deceive. What the administration did in the aftermath of the Benghazi attack was an attempt to deceive the American public by using a complicit media.

This means the CiC does not meet the standard for integrity as set by his subordinates. The CiC lacks integrity.

They simply could have said from the outset that they were caught by surprise at the scale of the attack, and information in the immediate hours was both confusing and lacking detail. They could have said that it was possible that the movie that was attributed to some Muslim uprisings in other areas was fully -or partly to blame, or that it was a well-planned attack by one or more militia groups. Finally, they could have said that they were debriefing those that were rescued, thanks to the heroic actions of some of our agents on the ground; two of whom died in the attack.

It’s only a story because they lied about it; otherwise, the media would have been quite satisfied to let it die.

BKeyser on November 18, 2012 at 3:02 PM

When covert actions dictate and a leak has been slipped to the press lying is sometimes necessary for the safety of our agents, soldiers and ground teams. However, covering up after the fact is unacceptable.

kregg on November 18, 2012 at 3:19 PM

It should be mandatory for politicians to submit to a polygraph test, when warranted ( i.e. Bengazi ). I hear the Israelis have one that is accurate.

centre on November 18, 2012 at 3:21 PM

Is it okay for a president to lie?

Richard Nixon tragically unavailable for comment.

Serious Question here… What if….

SWalker on November 18, 2012 at 3:30 PM

The American electorate’s responsibility is to throw liars out of office but when our society is so perverted as to vote to assuage their fear and the portrayed loss of meager government assistance weighs heavy, its survival by dole that takes over when cowards vote instead of accepting the dangerous freedom Thomas Jefferson preferred.

American’s voted for the soup line even though they see a great deal of harm coming of it down the road.

Mitt’s right, Obama promised ice cream and voters went for it even they have to know they’ll get gruel.

Speakup on November 18, 2012 at 3:33 PM

I chose the option of lying only to protect lives, but the thing is, that wasn’t even necessary in the case of Benghazi. It would have been far more simple to just say “We don’t know who players involved were, and we’re still investigating.” Instead, they went with a story they demonstrably knew was untrue because it was an opportunity advance a narrative they preferred.

Now they’ve been caught flatfooted with their lie, but you’re a racist and a sexist if you ask questions about it.

Four more years of this insanity…wheeeeeeee!

flipflop on November 18, 2012 at 3:52 PM

Only to save lives, even then I’d prefer Presidents merely to refuse to answer and cite security concerns.

I pondered that option for a moment as well. But even in the interest of saving lives, I believe our president must, as you say, choose to not answer and cite security concerns, rather than lie. If we give our leaders even one acceptable reason to lie to us, it seems more than likely our government will take advantage of that acceptance, and use it inappropriately. And just one lie, even for a “good reason” will manage to sow the seeds of doubt. The American people can accept, without hesitation, security/classified information remaining out of our realm of knowledge…but when our elected officials are going to supply us with information…it better be 100% truthful. And we deserve nothing less.

lynncgb on November 18, 2012 at 3:52 PM

When the last (D) President was caught lying red-handed, his (D) national media promptly wrote stories about how lying wasn’t bad, and how it was a character-builder. Remember those stories?

Del Dolemonte on November 18, 2012 at 12:54 PM

Everyone lies about sex?

There Goes The Neighborhood on November 18, 2012 at 3:57 PM

No. He can refuse to answer, but he should never lie. (Exception: When the First Lady asks, “Does this dress make my ass look big?”)

RoadRunner on November 18, 2012 at 4:01 PM

Obama doesn’t lie.

That simple monosyllable doesn’t cover the purulent permutations of the current president’s algorithmic ability to fold non-truth into a multidimensional malfeasance of anti-reality.

Obama masticates mis-truth into a preening pulp of astronomical arrogance.

profitsbeard on November 18, 2012 at 4:02 PM

Job of the President first and foremost is not to keep Americans safe but to keep them free and adhere to the Constitution. If the President is keeping Americans safe while shredding the Constitution and putting liberty in jeopardy, he’s not doing his most important job. Lying to the American people is not justifiable in any way, if anything, he should resign and let the VP take over if the pressure’s too much for him to handle.

Aizen on November 18, 2012 at 4:56 PM

If it was to protect the life of the Ambassador, yes.

If it was to distort the death of the Ambassador, no.

profitsbeard on November 18, 2012 at 5:26 PM

There’s much more to the question than Benghazi and O’Bama. As has been pointed out by others here, look at history and the bigger picture in general. The D-Day analogy was spot on. All things must be considered in every circumstance. A blanket yes or no is difficult, even when one has a functioning moral compass.

Big John on November 18, 2012 at 5:46 PM

No. He can refuse to answer, but he should never lie. (Exception: When the First Lady asks, “Does this dress make my ass look big?”)

RoadRunner on November 18, 2012 at 4:01 PM

Okay, we all take a pass on that one.

slickwillie2001 on November 18, 2012 at 5:53 PM

Only Jazz Shaw would do this kind of Navel-gazing in the wake of blatant lies that the WH is going to try and say were somehow necessary.

There’s a reason so many JS threads come in at well under 100 comments.

Right Mover on November 18, 2012 at 6:07 PM

Nothing complicated about it. It’s NOT okay for a president of the United States to lie. There’s always the option not to answer a given question.

Murf76 on November 18, 2012 at 7:05 PM

When presidents have to pretend to respect Jimmy Carter, and in the future, Barack Obama as some kind of respectful predecessor.

thebrokenrattle on November 18, 2012 at 2:41 PM

Having good manners and being polite doesn’t count as lying.

NotCoach on November 18, 2012 at 8:03 PM

Anyone who believes in the reality of eternity and a just God should have voted “no”.

Fatal on November 18, 2012 at 8:44 PM

Why should a president be in a position to tell a lie in the first place? Granting an exception for an untruth for any reason is permission to be incompetent or corrupt.

I would suggest that any statement made by a sitting US President should be considered to be “under oath”.

BobMbx on November 18, 2012 at 9:53 PM

Lie? Absolutely not.

Tell the truth but not the whole truth? Could easily be necessary for national security reasons…or for the fact that around half of more of America can’t handle the whole truth.

MelonCollie on November 18, 2012 at 11:07 PM

I seem to remember this exact same poll circulating back in…what was it, 1998?

Cylor on November 19, 2012 at 12:41 AM

They don’t have to lie, and shouldn’t. Of course, that’s unrealistic — as much as the lame-stream media would like us to believe differently in certain cases, politicians are, after all, human.

If it’s a matter of security, they can always just not take the question, or say “I can’t, for reasons that will be revealed in due course, comment further right now.” That way, at least, it’s clear that there is something that they are not divulging.

Certainly there’s no need for “the smartest man in the room” to lie: couldn’t he, in his unprecedented and heretofore unknown-on-this-planet intelligence and insight, anticipate the direction of the discussion and steer in such a way that he does not have to lie?

Geez, this guy’s smart, you know. It’s not like he repeatedly mispronounces names or anything. I mean, imagine the kind of fool who takes pains to say “pockeestaahn” but yet can’t say Aung San Suu Kyi correctly, even when he has a protocol office to drill him in the proper pronunciation. Even the Palace Guards would be howling in derision at that one. Good thing it won’t happen to the smartest man in the room, though, because otherwise he would look like a fool, and make us like like fools for electing him (again).

mr.blacksheep on November 19, 2012 at 11:43 AM

Anybody who offers an answer other than “No”, is a pro-Socialist self-loathing buffoon. That includes those that are even pretending to themselves to be something else, and cannot admit the truth that they are selfish and uninterested in the public good.

Any answer other than “No” keeps Michael Moore relevant, and pours extra dirt on Breitbart’s grave.

Any answer other than “No” permits Bill Clinton to pretend he is an elder statesman instead of one of the worst embarassments in this nation’s history.

The left pretends that the answer is “No”, only when using it to pillory someone like G. H. W. Bush for taking a stand against tax increases, then caving in to political pressure. How was it more important, after forcing him to agree to a tax increase, that they call him a liar than that the public realize who drove that tax increase down his throat?

This is actually an important question, Jazz. The national answer is the reason why a nothing such as Barack Obama can get re-elected. Too many people want their cheese, and don’t care enough about integrity, character, or honesty if those tired old virtues might get in the way.

Freelancer on November 19, 2012 at 12:08 PM

Only Jazz Shaw would do this kind of Navel-gazing in the wake of blatant lies that the WH is going to try and say were somehow necessary.

There’s a reason so many JS threads come in at well under 100 comments.

Right Mover on November 18, 2012 at 6:07 PM

I rather enjoyed the range of opinion in this thread, as a reminder of the difficulty of developing a rigorous UI between philosophical principles and practical policy.

Seriously, if the Obama administration wanted to tamp down youtube video-related violence, it just should have shut up, already. The more it spoke about the idiotic video, the more the protests and violence spread. Some countries didn’t even see their first protests until Obama went to the UN and blamed the video 6 times.

It was the Obama Administration’s LIES that helped cause the deaths that occurred in the wake of Benghazi.

Resist We Much on November 18, 2012 at 12:50 PM

Thanks for the list of protests; I knew that all of them except Cairo post-dated Benghazi and the President’s talking-points, but didn’t realize how many of them there were.

Obama doesn’t lie.

That simple monosyllable doesn’t cover the purulent permutations of the current president’s algorithmic ability to fold non-truth into a multidimensional malfeasance of anti-reality.

Obama masticates mis-truth into a preening pulp of astronomical arrogance.

profitsbeard on November 18, 2012 at 4:02 PM

I will save this, substituting the relevant proper name in the future.

AesopFan on November 19, 2012 at 4:53 PM

Should a President lie? Consider the case of George Bush responding to a question about bin Laden, saying in essence “we’re not thinking about him much.” That was a lie (even tho Liberals from Obama on down insist on taking his statement seriously). Why did Bush tell it? Because in fact the US was thinking about bin Laden, knew where he was, and was setting up the long game to capture or kill him. In that situation you don’t warn the quarry.

To me the simple answer is that if the President — or any administration official — is going to speak on a matter of public interest then he has an obligation to tell the truth and if that is not possible then (a) don’t speak, or (b) state that the situation is such that he cannot/will not answer the question.

Obama used Susan Rice to lie to the American people. Now, Rice may or may not have known what the truth was. But Obama did. And the WH gave her the talking points to parrot on the Sunday TV shows. She was Mortimer Snerd to Obama’s Edgar Bergen. Assuming for the sake of discussion that in fact there was still confusion on what happened in Benghazi, the only honest answer at that point was to say “we still don’t have enough information”. But hammering on the video, through and including Obama’s UN speech on 10/25, was to repeat a lie known to the administration to be a lie. And further, a lie intended to advance an insidious purpose: to scapegoat an obscure video producer and cover up the realities of te deaths of the four Americans in Benghazi.

That is indefensible.

UnrepentantCurmudgeon on November 20, 2012 at 9:50 AM