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Opening Arguments

Just another whopper

Read his lips mind:

Remember President Obama's supposedly inviolable pledge—repeatedly uttered during the 2008 campaign and at countless town meetings since the inauguration—that he would never raise taxes on middle-class citizens who earn $250,000 a year or less?

This morning at a Manhattan breakfast sponsored by Thomson Reuters, White House Budget Director Peter Orszag threw that pledge out the window. Instead, he described Obama's “read my lips, no new taxes” pledge as a “stance” and a “preference” that is subject to study by the president's newly formed bipartisan Commission on Fiscal Responsibility.

“The president has been very clear about what he prefers,” Orszag said under questioning from Thomson Reuters' Chrystia Freeland. “That was his stance during the campaign, and he still believes that's the right course forward. But he has also been very clear that we shall let the commission go do its work.”

Oh, that's clear. It was a "preference," not a "promise." Did anybody really believe him anyway? Not to be too cynical about it, but political pledges are something most of us discount the minute we hear them. Voters become like pro-wrestling fans -- we know the whole set-up is phony, but we pretend otherwise. Maybe we should change that quote (popularized by Mark Twain) about the hierarchy of untruths to read, "Lies, damned lies, statistics, and anything that comes out of a politician's mouth."

I don't know where I would rate that lie, by the way -- probably not even in the top 10 of presidential whoppers. George H.W. Bush's "no new taxes" was a lot worse, because he was a putative conservative; that Obama might want to tax us more is not exactly a stunning revelation. Then there were Nixon's "I am not a crook" and Clinton's "I did not have sex, etc." I'll always have a special place in my heart for Johnson's "North Vietnamese have conducted further deliberate attacks" Tonkin Gulf lie since it affected me personally. Rounding out my top five would probably be Kennedy's "missile gap" or Reagan's "We did not trade weapons for hostages."

 (via Instapundit)