Get this: The U.S. Supreme Court is about to decide whether false accusations and mudslinging during political campaigns are illegal.
As it goes, during the 2010 election in Ohio, an anti-abortion group, the Susan B. Anthony List, sought to launch a billboard campaign that accused then-Rep. Steven Driehaus, a Democrat, of supporting taxpayer-funded abortion — because he backed ObamaCare.
But an Ohio law that makes it illegal to knowingly or recklessly make false statements about an opponent during an election killed the ad. The billboard owner, worried about getting sued, declined to run it.
After the election, the Susan B. Anthony List challenged the Ohio law as unconstitutional — that it infringed on the group’s First Amendment right to free speech. The Supreme Court will decide the case soon, and I surely hope the Ohio law is overturned.
Though a strong argument can be made that ObamaCare will ultimately cause private insurance funds to finance abortion, here’s what is also true: False statements and lies are the bread and butter of American politics.
We want our politicians to lie.
The greatest political yarn spinner in my lifetime was President Bill Clinton. He protected us from boring government stuff. So long as the stock market was high and the budget was in surplus, his antics, and frequent whoppers, were sources of great amusement.
There is a line on acceptable political yarn spinning, however, and Clinton finally did cross it (”I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”). If only he’d heeded the old motto: You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but sooner or later, Hillary is going to find out and throw a lamp at you.
That brings us to President George W. Bush. People kept “misunderestimating” him, unaware of how clever the fellow really was. Take our war with Iraq. Bush said it was about Saddam Hussein flouting U.N. resolutions. He said it was about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, which could have ended up in the hands of terrorists who could really do us harm (though we never found those WMDs).