The truth ain't what it seems

Politics + Other Mistakes
By AL DIAMON  |  May 15, 2014

The truth, some idiot of a television scriptwriter once wrote, is out there.

Let’s hope it stays as far away as possible.

Because if it wanders within range of a politician, there’s a danger it’ll be captured and genetically mutated to suit whatever agenda this particular pol is pushing.

Truth, as anyone with more brains than a TV scriptwriter knows, is an elusive quality, subject to alteration not only by facts, but also by individual whims and assorted prejudices.

In a democracy, that’s just the way it should be. Our system of government allows you to decide on the validity of such controversial topics as global warming, evolution, Medicaid expansion, welfare reform, and whether Republican congressional candidate Bruce Poliquin is actually a resident of the 2nd District. Finding the truth in any of these disputable matters is up to you. As an American, if you don’t choose to believe in the law of gravity, you’re free to step off a cliff.

Unfortunately, there are those who feel compelled to meddle in this personal decision-making process. In spite of tons of evidence to the contrary, they have concluded that their ability to discern the truth is superior to yours. And in order to avail you of their advanced ability to determine veracity, they want to establish perhaps the stupidest institution this side of a TV sitcom.

They want to create a government-run truth commission.

To make the situation even weirder, the politicians who came up with this idea are also the very ones who don’t believe government has a role in protecting the environment, regulating financial institutions or mandating health-care reforms. They don’t trust the government to handle much of anything, but they do think it can figure out what’s true.

The chief author of this contradictory scheme is GOP Governor Paul LePage. During the last legislative session, he attempted to pass a bill allowing the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices (motto: Wimpy — But Also Indecisive) to assess claims made by state candidates to determine if they were so much hokum.

Legislators, being not quite as brain-dead as TV scriptwriters, decisively defeated the governor’s plan. They recognized that not only didn’t the ethics commission have any qualifications for deciding truthfulness, but even if it did, such action, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, would be an unconstitutional restraint of free speech.

This action infuriated LePage, who dashed off an angry response.

“Since when in the USA [is it] that the truth is unconstitutional,” he wrote. “Interesting, that lying to citizens is the position of the ACLU. It is a real shame that you and your organization do not promote the truth. What example are we providing our children with?”

Since you asked, governor, we’re providing them with an example of governmental restraint. We’re instilling in them the belief that ordinary citizens can sort through the garbage politicians spew, discarding the lies all by themselves. We’re acknowledging that if they fail to adequately assess campaign claims — thereby electing blowhards, bullies or bunkum artists (not that I can think of anyone in public office who exemplifies those traits) — they’ll suffer the consequences until the next election, when they’ll have an opportunity to re-evaluate those characters’ credibility.

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