Mr. Liar and Mr. Stupid? These Guys Are Amateurs

  • Share
  • Read Later

We hold these truths to be self-evident:

Republicans are stupid.

Democrats are incredible liars.


The Republican Party is for men (men are stupid).

The Democratic Party is for women (women are liars).

You have to be smart to be a good liar, and Democrats like to lie in a visionary sort of way. The founding visionary of the modern Democratic Party, Franklin Roosevelt, was one of its most artful and charming shavers of the truth. There were giants on the earth in those days. Lyndon Johnson's mendacities achieved an infuriating magnificence, like King Lear playing three-card monte on the heath.

Do Al Gore as a liar and George W. Bush as a dope stack up to their parties' great traditions? I think not.

Consider the great Democratic lies. In 1916, Woodrow Wilson was elected on a promise not to involve America in the European war. In 1940, Franklin Roosevelt was elected on a promise not to involve America in the European war. In 1964, Lyndon Johnson was elected on a promise not to involve America further in an Asian war that it was, he said, the job of Asian boys to fight. (You remember that Goldwater in that contest was the wild man warmonger).

Think of John Kennedy, who learned from his father the art of reckless behavior concealed by compartmentalization and sleight-of-hand. In the summer of 1947, JFK, visiting England and Ireland, had an onset of Addison's disease (an insufficiency of the adrenal glands) so serious that it nearly killed him. He was given the last rites and shipped back to America with a nurse. Ever after, he lied about his Addison's disease, which he disguised as a touch of malaria picked up in the Pacific during the war. He would never have been elected President if the truth had been known. In fact, Kennedy would never have been elected president if any number of things had been known about his hidden life, including of course the women, among them the girl friend of the Mafia boss of Chicago.

And to compare Al Gore's relentlessly piddling and Mitty-esque self-dramatizations to some of Bill Clinton's efforts is to put a Tenderfoot scout in the ring with Mike Tyson.

As for George W. Bush and his stupidity: Are his little mispronunciations ("subliminable") and touches of blank panic when the discussion gets complex to be compared to such immense Shakespearean stupidities as, say, the Watergate capers — the imbecile break-ins, the moronic dirty tricks, and, above all, wily Richard Nixon's weird refusal to destroy the tapes? Can W. measure up to the standard of the Gingrich Republicans, who seized the government with a Cromwellian vengeance in 1994 and then so idiotically overplayed their hand that Bill Clinton deftly recovered and sailed on through a second term? No. The Republicans since Ronald Reagan's departure achieved a professionalism of buffoonery of which W. can only dream. Their conduct of the Clinton impeachment was a Three Stooges movie.

Both lying and stupidity are among life's neglected mysteries. They are, I suppose, step-brothers to one another, yin and yang. Each is a form of entertainment, which may explain why they show up so reliably as part of our political theater.

America has settled on the script — Gore lies, Bush is dumb. But I say they are both amateurs.