By Michael Goodwin – New York Post
As a young reporter, I once expressed shock at how routinely and reflexively government officials lied to the press. A savvy newspaper vet who overheard me just smiled and told me not to take it personally.
“Why shouldn’t they lie to you?” the late, great Murray Kempton asked. “They lie to themselves all the time.”
His observation came back to me as I read about President Obama’s trip to Asia. He’s going, the White House says, to tell our allies face to face that America is committed more than ever to their security and prosperity.
In ordinary times, the trip and the promise would mean a great deal to the Japanese, South Koreans and Filipinos nervous about trade and China’s aggressive military moves. But these are not ordinary times and Barack Obama is no ordinary president.
Consider that it’s been three years since Obama first declared a “pivot” to Asia as part of a strategic rebalancing of American interests, but the promise proved hollow. Asia is not alone in feeling misled.
Ask the Syrians about Obama’s promise to act if their government crossed his “red line” and used chemical weapons. Or ask Israelis, Saudis, Jordanians and others in the Mideast about Obama’s pledge that America would never allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon. Or ask Ukrainians about his pledge that we will stand with them as they fight for democracy against Vladimir Putin.
OK, the last promise wasn’t so much a lie as a sick joke. It turns out that by “help,” Obama meant we would send military rations and warm socks, but no weapons or intelligence to help Ukraine’s outgunned army.
If that were all the president had done to cause mistrust, it would be enough. But it’s not just foreigners who have been misled.
Worst of all, Obama lies to his fellow Americans. All the time.
Most infamous was his claim that, under ObamaCare, “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” Not far behind was his insistence, repeated for weeks during his re-election campaign, that the terror attack on Benghazi was the spontaneous result of a protest against an anti-Muslim video.
Assorted promises to lift the economy, unite the country, get to the bottom of the IRS scandal and be transparent are so routinely violated that they hardly register as false anymore.
Still, the overall impression that Obama is President Pinocchio is catching up to him. A Fox News poll showed that over 60 percent of American voters think he intentionally misleads them about important matters some or most of the time.
A whopping 37 percent think he lies “most of the time,” while another 24 percent say he lies “some of the time.” Twenty percent of voters say “only now and then” and 15 percent “never.”
Abraham Lincoln, supposedly an Obama hero, warned about the corrosive effect of failing to be honest. As he famously put it, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.”
That more or less sums up where we are, or, rather, where Obama is. Nearly six years in office, much of the world is united only in not trusting his word.
Even for those inclined to believe, as Murray Kempton did, that a public lie often starts with self-deceit, the impact is enormous. Although it’s possible Obama intended to stand up to Syria’s Assad, or to Iran’s mullahs, or to Putin or China, the fact that he hasn’t is all that matters.
The result is that, while the United States remains the lone superpower, we are not feared by the world’s most malevolent forces.
We are witnessing the making of a tragic history. The fact that America’s leader lacks credibility among friend and foe alike is creating peril without precedent. Absent a sudden stiffening of spine and a president whose word is his bond, the world is heading toward a catastrophe.
That’s the truth.