Politicians Speaking Publicly Versus Privately

April 3, 2006 | By | Reply More

What if a co-worker told you both of the following things:  A) She was leaving the company to take a new job; and B) She was not leaving the company to take a new job.

You would probably assume that she was playing a joke on you or that she was struggling with an illness that affected her memory.  Or maybe that you caught her in a lie.

But these sorts of contradictory statements are now the norm in American politics.

See the following:

Yesterday, Condoleezza Rice stated the following in Iraq:  “I don’t know who the prime minister is going to be, and it’s not our role to try and determine who the prime minister is going to be.” 

Then again, it seems like we are trying to determine who the prime minister should be

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, on an unannounced visit to the Iraqi capital amid a months-long political crisis, publicly questioned the leadership of interim Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari, the strongest indication yet that the United States wants him out of contention as head of Iraq’s permanent government. 

Such American interference in Iraqi politics is also corroborated by this recent statement by the Iraqi prime minister:

Facing growing pressure from the Bush administration to step down, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari of Iraq vigorously asserted his right to stay in office on Wednesday and warned the Americans against interfering in the country’s political process. 

Perhaps there’s no lesson here, only frustration that our political system, which we publicly tout as an open and free shining beacon ripe for emulation, is so incredibly dishonest and dysfunctional.  It’s not like this happened overnight, of course.  It’s been getting worse for decades.  No wonder local newspapers and television report so very little about urgent political issues and so much about sports results, how to bake pies and how to exercise to tighten one’s abs.

Every day we read political news stories which we immediately recognize to be utter nonsense. Such statements are furiously spun and baldly untrue.  We know with certainty that politicians never speak like this in private. To the extent that Rice has friends, they would never tolerate such dishonest and rambling babble.  But that’s what We the People get from her and from the Bush administration on a wide range of topics.

It is this vast widening chasm between private political talk and public political talk that, to me, is the clearest symptom that those in power do not represent the interests of the people they allegedly represent. 

This post is “Chapter One” on why we need to revise the Civics textbooks that we make our children read to allegedly understand how their government works.  Perhaps it’s not yet time to place the word “not” before every single sentence of such texts, but we’re getting there.

In “Chapter Two” I will argue that we’ll eventually need to break it to our children that 95% of the decisions our national representatives are heavily influenced by big money funnelled to them, one way of another, by huge corporations. 

After the children learn these two basic lessons, they will be better prepared to keep their self-respect intact whenever they are forced to publicly recite the Pledge of Allegince.  They can learn to say the Pledge the way Condoleezza Rice would: with lots of winks and nods.

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Category: Media, Politics

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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