My young son and I were talking last week about the definition of a lie. As a nine-year-old, he's expanding his boundaries and testing the waters on how little he can get away with telling my wife and me without crossing the line into being a liar. This seems to me like a perfectly normal part of childhood development so, as we talked, I used an example from last winter, when we had a misunderstanding about whether or not his school had been closed in advance of a monster snowstorm.
He told me the night before that he heard from one of the teachers that, because of the magnitude of the expected storm, classes had been called off in advance for the next day. We found out later that night that this information was incorrect, that a preemptive snow-day had not been called and my little boy promptly apologized for "lying."
I asked at the time if he knew that a snow-day had really not been called and, when he replied that he really did believe his information was correct, I explained that he had simply been mistaken and that he had not lied. If he had found out at 6:00 PM that his information was wrong, I said to him, telling me at 7:00 PM that school had already been canceled would indeed have been a lie.
My little boy understands and acknowledges that obvious distinction -- Republicans do not.
As if we need more evidence of this, Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman sent out an e-mail blast yesterday lashing John Kerry for allegedly insulting America's military personnel.
"Listen closely this election season and you'll hear the truth about what Democrats represent," wrote Mehlman. "Monday, failed Presidential candidate John Kerry brazenly insulted the brave American men and women serving in our military. In Kerry's cocoon of privilege, those who serve in our military are failures who never did their homework or 'made an effort to be smart.'"
"Our troops deserve to be honored, not insulted by the likes of John Kerry."
Mehlman ended his deceptive pitch by getting down to brass tacks and saying "We need you now to keep the John Kerry Democrats out of power."
By any sensible person's definition -- and what an average grade-school child would understand -- is that this was a lie. Ken Mehlman knew when he released this e-mail that John Kerry had not "brazenly insulted the brave American men and women serving in our military." He knew from a comparison of the prepared text and how Kerry bungled the joke he intended to tell that it was meant for Mehlman's master, George W. Bush, and not the troops in Iraq and that there was certainly nothing brazen about it.
He knew all of that as a matter of fact, in addition to knowing that, unlike the vast majority of the Republican leadership, John Kerry is a highly-decorated Veteran, who has always fought for America's Vets and active-duty military and would never lob such disrespect their way.
But Mehlman said it anyway. He knew at 1:00 PM that what he was writing was a lie. But he sent the e-mail at 2:00 PM anyway.
George W. Bush did the same thing in a speech after Kerry made his remarks but well after the truth of the Massachusetts Senator's intent was known -- he bashed Kerry, knowing it would be all over the world on nightly newscasts and also knowing that it was a total lie.
But, of course, it's not just confined to John Kerry or this one, isolated non-story.
Enter White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, who just yesterday, went to the Brady Briefing Room and told the nation's Press Corps a lie that all national Republicans continue to offer, despite substantial evidence to the contrary.
"You have heard me talk in recent days about how important it is to get people to focus on substantive issues," said Snow to the White House press. "And again, it's striking that in the war on terror -- winning the war on terror, Democrats have decided they're not going to tell you what their plan is. It's the most important issue; why not tell you what the plan is?"
White House reporters, perhaps tiring of being played for chumps and fed the Democrats-don't-have-a-plan line over and over again, immediately called Snow on it.
"You say that you want to see Democrats offer -- engage in a more substantive way on Iraq," pressed one reporter. "And yet when Democrats do that, their ideas are either rejected out of hand, as was the case with Biden's idea of partitioning Iraq, or in the case of Murtha, he had Republican members of Congress effectively accuse him of being a coward and say that the idea doesn't reflect reality. So when you have substantive proposals, redeploying troops is a substantive proposal, partitioning the country is substantive."
In addition to Democrat Jack Murtha learning that bringing an Iraq plan to the Republicans gets you called a coward -- even if you are a decorated combat Veteran who spent 37 years in the U.S. Marines -- the biggest element of Snow's lie is how he willfully ignores that Democrats put forth a major, comprehensive security initiative in the Senate less than two months ago and had it shot down by the GOP leadership.
On September 13, 2006, the Real Security Act of 2006, sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), was killed by an almost straight party-line vote in the Senate. The legislation, all 528 pages of it, offered, as its amendment purpose stated, "to provide real national security, restore United States leadership, and implement tough and smart policies to win the war on terror."
That's 528 pages of detailed description of the Democratic plan to secure our domestic infrastructure, end the war in Iraq and bring our military men and women home to their families.
But, just yesterday, in saying that Democrats have never told anyone what their plan is, Tony Snow lied yet again. This is not subject to partisan interpretation -- it is a lie. See for yourself: You can go here to see the legislation, S.AMDT. 4936.
And perhaps the most despicable of the lies surrounding the GOP's manufactured news story about John Kerry, is the fact that Republican John McCain, a fellow decorated Veteran and someone Kerry once called a friend, kept the lie going for his party in spite of what he knew was the truth. Even after the context of Kerry's remarks became clear to anyone interested in reality, McCain went on the attack, demanding that Kerry apologize for sentiments that McCain knew full well were a twisted invention of his own party.
Mighty disgusting stuff to be sure.
Politics can often be much more gray than black and white. Certainly, I've learned in covering the United States Senate that things are sometimes not what they seem and that the process of governing can at times be complex and filled with nuance.
But there are some things that are absolute. And one of those is that the Republican party of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Ken Mehlman, Tony Snow and John McCain is filled throughout with a craven pack of liars whose only interest is to remain in power, while railroading those who oppose them and scaring the hell out of each and every American along the way to achieve their goals.
Election day is Tuesday. It is time to begin throwing the liars out.