Former Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia and his wife, Maureen, were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of accepting some $140,000 in loans and gifts in exchange for promoting the business of a political patron. (Steve Helber / AP)
Is it just me or does there seem to be an inordinate amount of lies and accusations bandied about in the past week?
Compounding Chris Christie’s what-did-he-know-and-when-did-he-know-it Bridgegate maelstrom, we have the Hoboken, N.J., spinoff, or pile-on, whatever you want to call it.
On the Sunday talk shows, Mayor Dawn Zimmer accused Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno of depriving her city of Sandy storm relief money if she did not support a development project favored by the governor. Zimmer said Guadagno threatened her, saying, “I know it’s not right — these things should not be connected — but they are,” she says, “and if you tell anyone I will deny it.”
Which is exactly what Guadagno did on Monday. “Mayor Zimmer’s version of our conversation in May of 2013 is not only false,” she bristled in a press conference, “but is illogical and does not withstand scrutiny.”
Also on Sunday, the Dallas Morning News revealed that the narrative that catapulted Texas state senator Wendy Davis into the limelight — that she was a divorced teenage mother living in a trailer who earned her way to Harvard — is pockmarked with inconsistencies and blurred facts. Those were reported as: Instead of being divorced at age 19, as Davis had previously said, she divorced at 21. After the split she lived in a trailer for a briefer time than her online bio suggested. And she apparently had substantial help from her ex with funding for Harvard, while implying she paid her own way with school loans and grants. To the newspaper, Davis responded: “My language should be tighter. … I’m learning about using broader, looser language. I need to be more focused on the detail.”
Then, on Tuesday, former Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia and his wife, Maureen, were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of accepting some $140,000 in loans and gifts in exchange for promoting the business of a political patron. The gifts include more than $100,000 in corporate jet travel, an engraved $6,500 Rolex watch, a $15,000 Bergdorf Goodman shopping spree and some $25,000 in gifts to the two McDonnell daughters.
McDonnell apologized for his actions but insisted he never did anything illegal, calling the allegations “false and an unjust overreach of the federal government.”
Do we have a theme going here?
I know, I know. After “I am not a crook,” “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,“ the denials from Lance Armstrong, John Edwards and Bernie Madoff, to mention but a few, I shouldn’t be surprised, or affronted or insulted when my trust in a public figure is blown out of the water. And yet, I’m all of these things.
I know that quid pro quo, grooming pawns, manipulation and power plays are all integral to politics. They are the centerpiece plots of TV hits “Scandal” and “House of Cards.”
Indeed, on the subject of making Sandy funds a bargaining chip, Anderson Cooper asked his on-air political strategists: “Aren’t deals like this done on Capital Hill all the time? Isn’t politics all about scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours?”
We all know power corrupts isn’t just an adage. Power leads to a sense of entitlement that opens the door to hypocrisy, infidelity and all sorts of lies and untruths. Some research has even suggested power can be as addictive as cocaine.
But that doesn’t explain how those in power who tell a falsehood can be so stupid as to think the lie at some point won’t unravel; that their tracks were not completely covered. To quote Mark Twain: “If you tell the truth, you don‘t have to remember anything.”
So if you’re disgusted like I am by this onslaught of lies and denials, I think that’s probably a good thing. Because the minute we get complacent, the minute we dismiss lying as a mere occupational hazard of politics, indifference can’t be far behind. And I can’t think of anything worse than not giving a damn.