Telling It Like It Is: A Truth Test for Politicians

I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to blog on a few political
verities.  Here are three from people of differing political stripes. 
What unites all three is that they are accurate, needed, and exceedingly
applicable to the current domestic political scene.

On occasion, Joe Klein of Time magazine dredges up some interesting
quotes that you have to be more than Gen-Y or Gen-X to be familiar
with.  His latest Time article, a discussion about the difficulties of
real deficit cutting, included a very astute statement by William
Bennett about how to assess presidential candidates. 

Yeah, I know.  Bennett is a right wing politician of the sort I
distrust (if it matters to you, there are left wing politicians I also
distrust).  But I learned many centuries ago to take truth wherever you
can get it.  And this is TRUTH, so I recommend the Bennett Test for your
voting toolkit. 

If a candidate tells you only things
you want to hear, if he asks nothing of you, then give him nothing in
return, certainly not your vote, because he is not telling you the
truth.

This was Bennett’s recommendation as he introduced a parade of his party’s presidential candidates in the mid 1990s. 

Mentioning right wing and left wing politicians also reminds me of
another truth, exceedingly significant in today’s tough financial and
social context.  Arianna Huffington has been pushing this button on a
number of occasions, including the interview at the announcement of the
merger between Yahoo and the Huffington Post.  She
complained, accurately, that,

the use of the political terms
“left,” “right” or “left-wing” is preventing policymakers from solving
“problems” because of the connotation tied to each of them.

I’ll tie this up with another accurate statement–that of David Brooks. 

Society is too transparent. Since
Watergate, we have tried to make government as open as possible. But as
William Galston of the Brookings Institution jokes, government should
sometimes be shrouded for the same reason that middle-aged people should
be clothed. This isn’t Galston’s point, but I’d observe that the more
government has become transparent, the less people are inclined to trust
it.

Closed door political, off-the-record meetings have their place.

What ties all of these together is their political honesty.  Take truth where ever you can get it.

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