Obama lied, but all presidents do it, right?

The doctored image of Barack ObamaGive CNN and ABC News.com Senior Political Editor Z. Byron Wolf credit. At least in his article at the network’s website, Wolf didn’t write, as the New York Times Editorial Board did yesterday, that Barack “Obama clearly misspoke when he said,” If you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance. (A person can be said to have misspoken when he says something once that turns out to be incorrect or untrue. When an individual makes the same claim two dozen times, each punctuated by the emphatic exclamation “Period,” he is way past simply misspeaking.)

CNN and Wolf are nevertheless guilty of attempting to shrug off Obama’s Big Lie as just another example of a zany presidential fib. Even if Obama hadn’t set the bar on honesty so high in the run-up to the 2008 election, the whopper he told to get his signature health care law passed and keep it afloat long enough for America to witness the unfunny joke that has been its rollout is more than just an unfortunate “campaign slogan, … policy address or legal testimony,” as Wolf characterizes it. In fact, the line about keeping your health plan deserves its own special pedestal in the pantheon of presidential prevarication.

Wolf tries to square the circle in his piece by placing Obama’s monstrous lie first in his list of presidents saying the darndest things. But even then, Wolf “caveats” the blatant untruth by noting that “what [Obama] said was true for most Americans. They get their health insurance through their employer or the government with Medicare.”

Even worse is his attempt to equate a lie that has grievously damaged the country economically and threatens to visit even more financial harm on what one expert is predicting to be 129 million Americans — well over one third of the population — to George W. Bush’s having appeared before a banner aboard an aircraft carrier reading “Mission Accomplished.”

Of the banner incident, Wolf acknowledges that Bush never uttered the words appearing on it, but when it comes to “yarn spinning,” there is no comparison between prematurely declaring combat operations to be over (something a president is told by his expert military advisers) and a president telling a bald-faced lie again and again because it suits his political agenda.

Even more despicable is comparing the Big Lie to Bush’s claim that Saddam Hussein was harboring “significant quantities of uranium” that Iraq had bought from Africa. Bush was hardly alone in that belief, which was shared by the U.N., the U.S. Congress, and many world leaders.

Wolf also has the audacity to attack Bush’s father for his 1988 declaration at the Republican National Convention, where he said, “Read my lips. No new taxes!” It was obviously a foolhardy promise to make, but as Wolf himself admits:

Bush didn’t want to break the pledge, but in the face of a recession, and to avoid $100 billion in automatic, across-the-board spending cuts, he acquiesced and allowed a tax hike on the wealthy.

Again, not just an apples-and-oranges comparison but more like equating kumquats and watermelons.

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