It’s that time of the year when The Fact Checker, Glenn Kessler, of the Washington Post reviews the biggest political whoppers of the year and hands out his dubious “Pinocchio” Awards. Y’all remember the little wooden boy made by the loving carpenter Gepetto and mentored by the kind and wise Jimminy Cricket? Little Pinocchio wanted to be a real boy very badly but he had an issue with his nose growing each time he told a lie — thankfully that doesn’t happen to anyone in DC – at least not in public.
This year’s list has a certain bipartisan look and also includes Russian President Vladimir Putin for his infamous claim about the Crimea elections. You can see the full list here.
Sadly enough, our own president of the United States has three mentions. And the list doesn’t even include the tall tale about not reversing his mind on illegal immigration executive actions. Y’all remember the almost 25 times the president stated he couldn’t take that specified action — only to take the action and state that he’d never changed his position? That earned him an upside down Pinocchio previously from The Fact Checker, but somehow didn’t make the final list of 2014.
As I flew back to West Palm Beach from Philadelphia today, I was reading a short treatise by one Rev. Steven Craft called “Morality and Freedom.” There were some interesting quotes from the Founding Fathers in this 28-page essay given to me by Rev. Craft when I spoke for the New Jersey Family Planning Council Annual dinner. I now share them with you, as they have a direct relation to Kessler’s list.
Thomas Jefferson“He who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second and third time, till at length it becomes habitual; he tells lies without attending to it, and truths without the world’s believing him. This falsehood of the tongue leads to that of the heart, and in time depraves all its good dispositions.” “I never…believed there was one code of morality for a public and another for a private man.”
“There is no nation on earth powerful enough to accomplish our overthrow. Our destruction, should it come at all, will be from another quarter. From the inattention of the people to the concerns of their government, from their carelessness and negligence. I must confess that I do apprehend some danger. I fear that they may place too implicit a confidence in their public servants and fail properly to scrutinize their conduct; that in this way they may be made the dupes of designing men and become the instruments of their own undoing.”
“If the citizen neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made not for the public good so much as for the selfish or local purposes.”
“Corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizens will be violated or disregarded.”
“If a republican government fails to secure the public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the divine commands, and elect bad men to make and administer the laws.”
Now we can snicker at this list of lies or we can ponder what it means about us, the American electorate. I choose the latter, and it seems some very astute men warned us of this coming issue.
Pinocchio was a cute Disney story that touches our hearts and warms our souls in the quest of one wooden boy to become real — and the blessing it was to Gepetto.
But that story shouldn’t be how we classify the actions of those who have been elected — and took an oath to our fundamental rule of law, the United States Constitution. It all becomes rather Pavlovian – if the electorate continues to reward bad behavior, well, you just get more of it.
And how indeed shall we focus on policies that advance the growth, opportunity, and promise of America if we cannot even trust the words emanating from the mouths of the “politicians?” However, as the sage and wise words above reveal, what does all this say about us?