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Subject: The Art of the Tall Tale rss

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J
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I thought this was a pretty good article regarding political lies and how to handle them.

From Politico:

Quote:
Carson, Biden, Reagan and the Art of the Tall Tale
By JACK SHAFER

Memory is a liar, as our friends and families keep interrupting to remind us. It’s not that we can’t recall the past accurately—it’s that our pasts are almost never as exciting as they ought to be. Lacking the discipline or the motivation to tell our stories straight, we recast our personal histories for dramatic effect, shaving away the boring passages and emphasizing the bits that make people wag their tails. Over time, some of us (you know who you are) embellish, sprinkling a little Jumbo-Gro on our personal histories and, if nobody stops us, we usurp stories that happened to our kin, or the guy across the street, somebody we read about. At our worst—or our best, depending on how you look at it—we command our imaginations to produce compelling personal anecdotes that speak profound truths about us and also happen to be, in the factual sense, totally false. And that’s before we mount the barstool.

Yes, I’m talking about Ben Carson. In recent weeks, some of the presidential candidate’s most thrilling and inspirational tales have been debunked by the press. The Daily Beast cast its doubts on the story he’s told on the stump about having once been held up at gunpoint at a Baltimore Popeyes. CNN investigated Carson’s claims to have been a violence-prone “stabbing, rock throwing, brick hurling and baseball bat beating” teenager, and found no evidence of those behaviors. POLITICO hit the candidate for having repeatedly claimed to have been offered a full West Point scholarship, when there’s no evidence that such a thing happened. And the Wall Street Journal poked holes in two Carson stories from his early days—sheltering white students during a high-school riot and being declared the “most honest” student in the wake of a prank engineered by a professor at Yale University.

But I’m not talking about Carson exclusively. He’s not the only politician to demonstrate a unique relationship with the biographical truth. President Ronald Reagan famously told Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and later Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal that he had worked as a photographer in a U.S. Army unit that filmed the Nazi death camps. The trouble is, Reagan didn’t go to Europe during the war. (The White House denied the accounts as they were published in the Washington Post. The New York Times included the Shamir account in Reagan’s obituary.) Hillary Clinton claimed to have braved sniper fire in 1996 during a visit to Bosnia during the war. Never happened. Presidential candidate Marco Rubio has called himself a “son of exiles,” even though his parents left Cuba two and a half years before Fidel Castro took power. And during the 1988 presidential campaign, Joe Biden lifted and then embroidered the details from an emotive speech by the British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock. When he first started quoting Kinnock, he cited his source. But as the campaign progressed, he appropriated Kinnock’s speech and life story as his own without giving credit. The revelation sank his campaign, and would have been an issue had he joined campaign 2016.

It’s one thing for civilians to exaggerate their personal histories. As long as you don’t lie on your résumé or on a legal document, you’re safe in most cases. In person, it’s likely that nobody listens closely to your stupid stories about your glory years or how you humiliated that crooked used car salesman. But politicians know people are listening. Their words are recorded, transcribed, and analyzed. What induces them to embroider the specifics of their lives? Are successful politicians, like some of us storytellers, still unsatisfied with their lives even though they’ve accomplished so much? Why play the puffer fish when you’re the biggest fish in the pond?

“Everybody tries to create, especially in America, tries to create a log cabin story,” Charles Krauthammer said last year on the Fox News Channel when Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis was caught enhancing her early history. There’s nothing wrong with a politician churning the word bucket to portray himself as wise, fearless, stoic, experienced, honest, or stalwart as long as the stories are true. But a politician who gets caught building reputation from fantasy finds his credibility corroded, sometimes beyond repair. It’s like an adult cheating in T-ball against 5 year olds.

Barack Obama had this all figured out when he wrote the indemnifying clause into the introduction of his autobiography, Dreams From My Father. “For the sake of compression, some of the characters that appear are composites of people I’ve known, and some events appear out of precise chronology,” Obama wrote. In other words, Don’t hold me to what you’re about to read, folks! Imagine if Carson possessed the forethought to compose such an exit clause. He could wave the pages at his critics and laugh questions away.

If Carson were made of different stuff, he slip out of the media’s grip on his reputation. He could cut off the questions about his past with Donald Trump-style defiance, saying, It happened because I said it happened, or by making a grand joke about his decades-old recollections, saying, I remember a lot more about the late 1960s and the early 1970s than most of the stoners in the press corps. Instead, he’s accusing the press of a double standard, claiming that the press didn’t dissect Barack Obama in campaign 2008 the way it’s dissecting him now. But even if that were true (and it isn’t), it wouldn’t and shouldn’t give Carson a free pass.

Carson needs to acknowledge that in running for the White House, he invited exactly the sort of scrutiny he’s receiving. It’s OK, generally, for regular people to lie about their pasts. If my neighbor wants to claim he backstroked his way across the English Channel, that’s his business. His cry for attention is harmless. But a candidate for president is asking voters to place power and responsibility in their hands. Presidential candidates should know enough to police their mouths about the mundane without our asking, “Pretty please.” This is where Biden struck out, and rightly so. If Carson can’t get his story straight, it’s his problem, not the press corps’.

And in Carson’s case, especially, we have every right to hold him accountable for his personal story because practically everything we know about his hypothetical performance as president is contained in that personal story. The conventional politician has some sort of fossil record for reporters to comb through, some sort of claim to merit the job. Even other outsiders, like Ross Perot, could claim some special savvy with public policy that merited the leap into the White House. All Carson has is the charisma contained his soft voice and in his personal story, which he has been retailing since 1992 in such books as Gifted Hands, Think Big, The Big Picture, America the Beautiful, and A More Perfect Union. As log cabins go, the Ben Carson story may be a cozy place to hang out, but right now, I don’t think I would want to live there.
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Boaty McBoatface
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I have said it before and I will say it again.

Either hold all candidates up to the same kinds of scrutiny or do not engage in muck raking.

As to Carson, he may just be remembering events that did not happen exactly as he recalls them. So not they may not be lies, but if you cannot prove it may be time to stop using it.
 
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Eric "Shippy McShipperson" Mowrer
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The Art of the Tall Tale.... from Politico? Really?
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ejmowrer wrote:
The Art of the Tall Tale.... from Politico? Really?
ummm, yeah. Really. is there something in the article to which you object?
 
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Boaty McBoatface
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MWChapel wrote:
slatersteven wrote:
I have said it before and I will say it again.

Either hold all candidates up to the same kinds of scrutiny or do not engage in muck raking.

As to Carson, he may just be remembering events that did not happen exactly as he recalls them. So not they may not be lies, but if you cannot prove it may be time to stop using it.
This argument came up when Monica Lewinski was a big deal(minus the lying to congress part), and people were outraged that we weren't holding him accountable as we would a Republican who engaged in extra-marital affairs. Of course at the time most Republicans were running on a platform of "Family Values". I told everyone, I'm a Democrat, Bill is a Democrat, family values is something Republicans care about. So the man likes a little strange, as long as he's doing his job well, I couldn't care less.

Therefore, there are different levels of "scrutiny" for each candidate, depending on your point of view. I don't hold all candidates on the same level of scrutiny. YMMV, and it does.
Err, looking at someone past life to see if they are telling lies is not looking at the same thing as infidelity. That is what I mean, you judge everyone by the same standards.

MY problem is the number of people who are (for example) banging on about Clinton lies and yet do not see how her "lies" are not that much different from Carson's.

That is what I am talking about.
 
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Boaty McBoatface
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MWChapel wrote:
slatersteven wrote:


That is what I am talking about.
Well, these kind of little things are only used by one side or the other to put the enemy in context. Democrats are going to care about the little lies of Carter. Republicans are going to care about the little lies of Clinton.

They are used to sway those dumb ass non-committal swing voters, as they will probably have ZERO affect on most if not all RSP'ers. Most of us are already polarized to our tribes.

None of us are discussing it to change anyone's mind here. Only how it is affecting the masses out there.
But was this really an issue (and tactic) before Obama, did people dig really that deeply into peoples pasts where things like education or childhood were concerned?

 
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I wonder who would be president now if the media cared as much about Obamas past as they do about Carsons.
 
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lol. I absolutely LOVE the selective memory some people have about past election cycles. laugh

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Boaty McBoatface
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TheDashi wrote:
I wonder who would be president now if the media cared as much about Obamas past as they do about Carsons.
http://doctorwhominiaturesgame.com/

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/chat/2463790/posts

http://thedailypen.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/pbs-documentary-pr...
 
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Steven Woodcock
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ejmowrer wrote:
The Art of the Tall Tale.... from Politico? Really?
Politico should know all about tall tales, this is true....


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Greg Michealson
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MWChapel wrote:
I've read that so many times over the years that the South Park theme immediately started playing in my head when I finished.
 
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