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Why do some get so upset when the word "liar" is used?

By Scott Tibbs, August 24, 2009
  • "I am a proponent of a single payer universal healthcare program." - Barack Obama, in a 2003 speech to the AFL-CIO.
  • "I have not said I am a single payer supporter." - Barack Obama, 8/11/2009

The above statements by President Barack Obama are obviously in conflict. Responding to concerns and criticisms of his plan to overheaul the nation's health care system, Obama claimed he has not been a supporter of a "single payer" system where the government controls health care. Yet, in a 2003 speech, Obama (then a state legislator) advocated exactly that. So what happened here? Answer: Barack Obama lied.

Some Leftists pretend that Obama did not lie, but that he changed his position on whether a single payer system is the best solution for health care reform. The issue isn't whether or not President Obama changed his mind. For the sake of argument, let's assume that Obama (who was formerly supportive of single payer) legitimately changed his position. That's fine. I have no problem with that. The issue is not that I disagree with Obama on this or any other issue.

The issue on the table is objective, documented facts. It is well-documented that Obama said in 2003 that "I am a proponent of a single payer universal healthcare program." It is well-documented that Obama said on August 11 that "I have not said I am a single payer supporter." Barack Obama intentionally made a statement in conflict with established facts. Obama intentionally tried to mislead the American people by denying he ever held a position he is on record as holding.

As is so often the case, it is critical that we establish the foundations for an argument. When you say something that is false, and you know it to be false, that statement is a lie. That is what Obama did. He intentionally made a false statement. He lied.

As Rush Limbaugh likes to say, words mean things. There is no need to search for the proper "interpretation" of what Obama said. The literal, word-for-word text of what Obama said is more than enough to determine his truthfulness on the subject of his past support and current position on a single payer system. All we need to do is examine the documented facts of the case and apply those facts to what Obama said.

Objective truth exists independent of what any of us want to think or feel about a certain subject. In today's increasingly reletavist society, it is critical that we stand firm with objective truth and not allow people to claim that there is a different "interpretation" for established facts. I've often been called a "literalist" for this position, which I guess is supposed to be some sort of insult. But while not everything said or written is to be taken literally, the literal, word-for-word text of something is critical to grasping objective truth.