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September 07, 2012 7:34 am

The Amend Corner: Do virgins lie?

Written by Don Amend

Once, on the old “Happy Days”  show, the ever-cool Arthur Fonzarelli lost that cool over a girl who walked into Arnold’s, the local teen hangout.

The next day, The Fonz announced to his friends that this was the girl, the one he was going to marry. In response to questions  from Richie Cunningham and the gang, all of whom recognized the girl as a floozy, he read off a list of his requirements for a bride, which included that she couldn’t have a moustache, and that she must be, in Fonzie’s words, “unused,” a requirement that had the others chuckling and prompted them to ask how he knew she was a virgin.

“Because she told me,” responded the Fonz.

And how did he know she wasn’t lying?

“Because virgins don’t lie,” he said.

Now, unfortunately, this is pretty much the way most voters approach political campaigns. No matter what outrageous statement our candidate might make, it must be true because (Republicans/Democrats) don’t lie. That’s because, just as The Fonz really wanted to have found the girl of his dreams, we really want our candidate to be telling the truth.

As you have probably guessed by now, this column is about political campaigning, and it’s prompted by the speeches at the Republican National Convention. But before you Republicans all quit reading — if you haven’t already — anything I say about the dishonesty in the Republican speeches will likely be true of the Democratic speeches this week as well. In fact, later, I’ll tell you where you can find some examples.

Let’s take just three of those examples, the first being the Republicans’ accusation that the Obama administration is eliminating the work requirement in the welfare reform bill passed back in the ‘90s, allowing people to stay on welfare forever.

Well, that’s totally false. What the Obama administration said was that it would consider allowing states flexibility in meeting the work requirements of welfare reform, and specifically says the administration will only consider proposals that improve employment outcomes.

Still, the Republican party line continues the falsehood, even though several fact-checking organizations have called them on it. One member of Mitt Romney’s organization actually said, “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.”

In other words, they don’t give a damn about the facts if a lie will help them win the election.

The really dumb part of this attack is that it actually is in contradiction to the traditional Republican line about states’ rights. Aren’t Republicans in favor of freeing the states from too much federal regulation? They say they are, so this line of attack makes it appear that they will even sacrifice their principles if necessary to get power back.

Another type of dishonesty is contained in vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s attack on President Obama for cutting Medicare, when his proposed budget for balancing the budget contains nearly the same level of cuts.

Similarly, he attacks President Obama for the failure of the debt proposals by the bipartisan commission headed by former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson and former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles. The dishonesty here is that Ryan, who was a member of that commission, helped defeat the proposal as one of seven votes against it. The seven no votes kept the proposal from being sent to Congress, so Ryan is just as guilty, if not more so, than Obama for its failure.

Even some conservatives criticized Ryan for that omission, including Norm Ornstein of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, who said, “I found it utterly hypocritical, and it was, at a minimum, disingenuous not to mention his membership on the commission.”

Now, as I said above, the other side is engaged in the same sort of dishonesty. You can see for yourself by checking out politifact.com (where I found these examples) or factcheck.org on the Internet. I’m not any happier with some of the stuff Democrats are saying than I am with the Republicans — well, maybe not quite as unhappy, but unhappy nonetheless.

But mostly, I’m distressed because, even when presented with the facts, many, if not most voters will believe the lies, simply because they want to. Like the love-stricken Fonz, we want to believe the object of our affection is a virgin.

I also find this lying puzzling for another reason. The Obama presidency hasn’t been all it should be, and there are plenty of truths the Republicans can use against him. But there are also a number of legitimate reasons to question whether Romney will be any more effective, most of them raised by the Republicans who opposed him in the primaries.

So if you have valid and truthful reasons to use against your opponent, why do you have to make up lies? More importantly, why do we voters continue to accept the lies without question?

Maybe we need Richie Cunningham and his friends to ask that question. Better yet, we should ask it of ourselves.

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