Saturday, July 16, 2016

#198 / What They Do

David Hare is a British Playwright. In an article published in The Guardian on July 1st, Hare amusingly commented on the "Leave" campaign, which persuaded a majority of British voters to support the termination of Britain's participation in the European Union. 

Very shortly after the vote, when it became clear that the effects of the so-called "Brexit" were going to be a lot more extensive, and a lot more painful, than the voters were told ahead of time, people started accusing Boris Johnson, former Mayor of London, and one of the leaders of the "Leave" campaign, of lying. 

Hare's observation was classic: 

People who professed themselves shocked to discover, post-referendum, that Johnson told lies are like people who complain that Barbra Streisand sings. It’s what they do for a living.

I personally don't think lying is inevitably connected to the practice of politics. In fact, I think just the opposite, and that a fundamental commitment to honesty, and to telling the truth, is actually what characterizes those who practice politics correctly. 

I do admit, however, that Hare's statement hits home! Lots of politicians, on both sides of the Atlantic, think telling lies is just the way it's done. As Hare notes in his article, the ultimate result is often, and certainly was for Johnson, a (metaphorical) "icepick through his skull." 

Having led the campaign for the Brexit, Johnson's own party members turned against him, and Johnson was forced to withdraw as a candidate for Prime Minister, which is what the whole "Leave" campaign was maybe all about, from his perspective. 

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