Thursday, February 12, 2015

Winking at Lies

We come to learn lately that what Mr. Obama has been telling us for years about his position on gay marriage was simply not true. He was not telling us the truth when he told pastor Rick Warren that, “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian — for me — for me as a Christian, it is also a sacred union. God’s in the mix.”

Nor were we told the truth by his acolytes when they told us that he had "evolved" on the issue. The truth, it turns out, is that Mr. Obama believed all along that gays should be able to marry, but for political reasons he felt it best to lie about is beliefs. As his former advisor David Axlerod reveals in his new book, Believer: My Forty Years in Politics, that, "There’s no doubt that his sympathies were on the side of allowing gay couples to marry. He also recognized that the country wasn’t there yet—that we needed to bring the country along.” In other words, political expediency justified the lie.

One shame of this is that so many on the political left see nothing wrong with lying for the cause. They didn't see anything wrong with lying about Obamacare, as Jonathan Gruber boasted. Nor did they see anything wrong with telling people, as Mr. Obama did on numerous occasions, that they'd be able to keep their health care plans and their doctors, and that the cost of their plans would be cheaper, even though they knew these claims were false. Nor did they see anything wrong with lying to the nation about the reason for the violence and deaths of Americans in Benghazi.

The list could go on, but why bother? Most people shrug their shoulders at the president's mendacity because lying has become an accepted part of our discourse. Integrity doesn't matter, character doesn't matter, what matters today for many is achieving one's goals and those who wish to see those goals realized will countenance whatever it takes to get there.

I watched a panel on MSNBC the other night discuss Mr. Obama's dissimulations on his position on Gay Marriage. Not once in the entire segment did anyone condemn the fact that the president of the United States deliberately misrepresented his position on this issue to the American people. No one on the panel, apparently, thought this was an important part of the story. Yet, as David Harsanyi at The Federalist observes, those who are unperturbed at Mr. Obama's contempt for the truth would be incensed were it their own ox that was being gored:
But imagine, if you can, a president whose position on abortion “evolves” after the election. Imagine this president advocating that all innocent human life is worth protecting. Imagine that she appoints judges to solidify her new pro-life attitude. And then imagine the president’s top advisor informs us that the president was a pro-lifer all along. I imagine that would be a pretty big story.
Indeed, it would. Those who adopt a pragmatic view of morality when it's liberals who are doing the lying, and when the lies are being told to promote a cause they favor, would be instantly transformed into moral absolutists were it a pro-lifer who had deceived them by posing as a pro-choicer.

The other day I put up a post on an interview with Michael Shermer, an atheist who argues that human survival and flourishing are the starting point for all moral valuations. If this truly is the starting point, if there really is no Divine moral authority, where does such a view lead? The answer, I suggest, is that it leads straight to the view that lying is morally right if it promotes the right political causes because these causes will surely result in greater "human flourishing." Yet if lying is deemed acceptable today something else, something even worse, will be accepted tomorrow. Perhaps those whose unpopular views on climate change or Darwinian evolution, views judged by those in power to be an obstacle to human flourishing, will find themselves forced to wear the equivalent of a yellow star.

A society so corrupt and perverse that it not only accepts lying from its leaders but actually applauds it will not long remain one that most people would want to live in.