Lying

It seems like a zillion years ago – but in actuality it was only a little over 2 years ago – that I used this space to announce to the world (or my 3 regular readers) that I was endorsing Edwards for President.  How things change!  I think he dropped out of the race within a week after that post, which threw me into Obama vs. Clinton quandary, and ultimately I supported and worked enthusiastically for Obama.

During the past 2 years I’ve been profoundly disappointed by Edwards’ antics.  His appalling lack of judgment, combined with his delusional belief that he could keep his secret life secret (including secret kid), confirms that the electorate chose correctly in rejecting him.

I consider myself a pretty tolerant person.  I’m generally pretty forgiving and understanding.  I don’t much care if someone is engaging in what may be classically considered immoral behavior if it doesn’t have spill-over effects or violate some sensible policy.

But the one trait I cannot countenance is lying.  I HATE being lied to (well, except for white lies – you can tell me I don’t look tired, or fat, or that my hair looks nice, even if you’re wrong on all counts).

Seriously, I think a person’s willingness to tell the truth and to admit mistakes honestly speaks volumes about that person’s character.  On the flip side, when I’m lied to, I feel like the person lying to me is trying to make a fool of me.  I know – especially in a public sphere – it’s not directed at me.  Indeed, even in a private sphere, it may not be intentional.  But it’s still a deep, personal insult, one that I find very difficult, if not impossible, to forgive.

In Edwards’ case, I could have forgiven him had he come clean, admitted his affair and resulting parenthood.  Sure, I would have felt sorry for his wife, but I could have forgiven him.  While I was deeply troubled by the uber-powerful Clinton hitting on an intern (even if technically consensual), I was equally troubled by his subsequent prevarications about it (“I did not have sex . . . .” “it depends what the definition of ‘is’ is”).

When i was a child, I did lie.  I was often the brunt of family jokes about my attempts to lie my way out of any difficult situation.  But at some point, maturity (or something) kicked it, and I got over it.  I suspect I’m not too unusual.

But what causes an otherwise intelligent adult to continue to lie, even at the risk of losing everything s/he has?  Edwards has lost all credibility, all chances for a political future.  Toronto just lost a candidate for Mayor over a sex scandal – a scandal that most pundits believe he could have survived had he only come clean at the outset.

Does lying work?  It never worked for me – I always got caught.  There have been some spectacular examples of lying causing a person’s aspirations to implode – Edwards and the Toronto mayor-wannabe just 2 examples.

So, you want my support?  Don’t lie to me.  Ever.  (Well, except that hair/weight stuff.)  Edwards has learned that lesson the hard way.

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