Friday, June 4, 2010

WOULD YOU LIKE KETCHUP WITH THOSE LIES?

Even now, in 2010, sometimes I run across a person who swears up and down he was at Woodstock in 1969. I can’t prove him wrong, but experience now tells me that if every person who said they were at Woodstock was really there, the population in China couldn’t hold a candle to the 1960s most memorable music event. It seems people love to re-invent their past and make it seem more glamorous or heroic than it really was. Lately, there’s been a lot of that going around, and I can’t help wondering: Are these people delusional or do they simply believe the rest of us are idiots?

One of my recent favorites is U.S. Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal, (right) who more than once publicly stated that he served in Vietnam. Of course, he did not. And, of course, his PR machine found a good workaround for his gaffe. Now he says he “misspoke.” (Did we ever hear the word “misspoke” before about the year 2000? I think not). Blumenthal says he regrets what he said, and what he really meant to say is that he served in the military “during” Vietnam. Had Blumenthal “misspoke” once, we’d cut him a break, right? But reportedly, he said “in Vietnam” on numerous occasions. Blumenthal, who bears some eerie resemblance to another regretful guy, former NY Governor Eliot Spitzer, is playing us. I don’t like being played. How about you?

Guess who else is playing us. One Mark Kirk. (below, left) Don’t sweat it if you’ve never heard of the guy, but he’s making headlines lately. Kirk, who is in the running for the Illinois Senate seat formerly held by President Obama, falsely claimed he was awarded the Navy Intelligence Officer of the Year Award - a prestigious honor that is given to only one individual a year. A little digging by his opponent uncovered the lie. And yes, I am calling it a lie. I may have cut the guy some slight slack, had it not come to light that this was not his only lie about his military service. Kirk also claims that he "command[s] the war room of the Pentagon," faced combat in Kosovo, and served in the Iraq war. Oh, and you’ll love this: he’s resorted to using Blumenthal’s “during/in” argument about Iraq, saying he actually served “during” Iraq, rather than “in” Iraq. Please. Just this week his latest fiction surfaced. Now he says he came under fire while flying aboard an intelligence reconnaissance plane in Iraq. But the best was yet to come: By week’s end, Kirk was digging himself in even deeper, when he told a group of newspaper people, “I simply misremembered it wrong.” Jesus, do we really want to elect a guy who says things like “misremembered it wrong?” Oy.

Let’s face it: These guys – and they are not the first to try to pull this type of stunt – are outright lying. But what about other high profile people who just say stupid things, even while staring right into a news station’s camera? Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul, for example, said right out loud that he doesn’t see anything wrong with business owners deciding who they will and will not serve or sell their goods to. Rand, we knocked that type of discrimination out more than four decades ago. And how about BP CEO Tony Hayward, who said he’d like his "life back,” while thousands of Gulf Coast residents were slowly and painfully watching their own lives whither away due to his company’s inept handling of the oil spill? Oh, and lest we forget young Miss Kristen Stewart,(right) an actress who compared being hounded by photographers to being raped, in the current issue of British Elle Magazine. Are these people lacking the sensitivity chip, or are they just so taken with their own selves that no one else matters? I seriously don’t get it.

Of course the greatest gaffe in recent memory came at week's end when veteran reporter Helen Thomas killed her decades-long career with a few ill-chosen words. Thomas,89, a veritable institution in the White House press room, had this to say when asked about Israeli/Palestinian relations:
Within days, her speaker's bureau had dropped her, a high school at which she was to speak had cancelled her appearance, a White House official had called her out for her remarks, and finally, her employer, Hearst Newspapers had "retired her." If ever again you doubt the power of words, please think of Helen Thomas.

Every one of the crazies mentioned in this piece has now come forward with “heartfelt” apologies. Heartfelt, or simply humiliated by all of the bad press? Call me a cynic, but I’m going with the latter. But listen – guess who I predict will not be coming forward with any apologies? That would be our old buddy George Bush, who this week said his administration did indeed condone water boarding of terrorists – and he’d do it again!