The wages of presidential deception

The wages of presidential deception

By 1968, President Lyndon Baines Johnson was finally done in by his “credibility gap” — the growing abyss between what he said about, and what was actually happening inside, Vietnam.

“Modified limited hangout” and “inoperative” were infamous euphemisms that Nixon administration officials used to mask lies about the Watergate scandal. After a while, few believed any of the initial Reagan administration disavowals that it was not trading “arms for hostages” in the Iran-Contra scandal.

George H.W. Bush thundered during his campaign to “read my lips: no new taxes,” only to agree later to raise them. Bill Clinton’s infamous assertion that “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” was followed by proof that he did just that with Monica Lewinsky.

The George W. Bush administration warned the nation about stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and never quite recovered its credibility after the WMD were not found. No one believed Bush when he told incompetent FEMA Deputy Director Michael Brown that in the midst of the Katrina mess he was doing a “heck of a job.”

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