That Hillary Clinton cannot help lying is beyond cavil. Her claim to the FBI that she took the capital "C" on documents to be indication of paragraph ordering, even where no "A's" or "B's" were to be found, will surely rank as the funniest of her fabulations, while simultaneously undermining her claim to be the experienced and knowledgeable candidate.
What is less noticed is that President Obama is no mean fabulist himself. (He has admitted that many of the characters in his autobiographies are, in fact, composites).
That is not to say that the two lie for the same reasons. She lies because she has no choice if she wishes to cover up her other unsavory behavior. Chronic lying is not her biggest character flaw. Rather it is the result of her greed and lust for power, and the willingness to do pretty much anything to sate those desires.
Obama's lies are of a different order. They are primarily generated not to hide personal venality, but to advance his political agenda. Like many progressives, Obama has a low estimate of the intelligence of the public that twice elected him and deep suspicion of democracy itself. He lies to shield his policies from scrutiny by the public or congressional overseers.
The oft-repeated and false claim, "If you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor," was crucial to pass his signature domestic achievement. Yet if Obama had even the most rudimentary understanding of the legislation bearing his name in popular parlance, he surely knew that statement was false when made.
And as the President's chief national security advisor Ben Rhodes boasted in David Samuels excellent New York Times Magazine profile of him, the Iran deal, Obama's signal foreign policy "achievement," was sold through the useful idiots of the media based on a two-pronged lie.
The first was that serious negotiations with Iran only commenced in response to the election of the "moderate" Hassan Rouhani as president. In fact, all the major parameters of the deal were hammered out while the mad Ahmadinejad was still in office. The only relevant voice in either case belonged to Supreme Leader Ali Khameini.
The second foundational lie was that only alternative to the Iranian nuclear deal was yet another prolonged war in the region involving American ground troops.
THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION required these subterfuges to hide its real Iranian strategy from the start of the Obama presidency: Install Iran as the regional hegemon, at the expense of America's traditional Sunni allies and Israel. In return for which Obama hoped to achieve a dampening of Iran's nuclear ambitions.
As Michael Doran pointed out over a year ago, and Rhodes subsequently confirmed, only such a strategy can explain the total lack of support expressed by Obama for Iran's Green Revolution after the rigged presidential elections of 2009. And only such a strategy can explain the total passivity of the president as over half a million people have died in Syria and 12 million more been displaced, even after Syrian strongman, and chief Iranian ally, Bashir Assad, crossed Obama's self-proclaimed red lines and used (and continues to use) chemical weapons against his own people.
Had the American people been told what the President's goal was, they would have rejected it and him. Memories of the 1979 takeover of the American embassy in Teheran have not altogether faded. Nor did Supreme Leader Khameini or any of his fellow mullahs slacken in their expressions of contempt for the United States at any time prior to the conclusion of the nuclear deal or subsequently.
During the course of negotiations of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Obama administration dropped one after another all its assurances to the American people about its goals, including candidate Obama's 2012 pledge to secure the complete dismantling of the Iranian nuclear program. Every baseline American position was abandoned in the course of negotiations leading up to the JCPOA.
Just a few months before signing, Obama insisted that American sanctions on Iran for its support of terrorism, its human rights violations, its ballistic missile program "will continue to be fully enforced." But in the final agreement virtually all sanctions and the U.N. arms embargo were removed.
In place of the American demand for a "robust and intrusive" inspection regime, based on anywhere and anytime inspections, the JCPOA provides for "managed access," allowing the Iranians to fully control the process. Worse, the President and Secretary of State then turned around and defended the Iranian position as no more than the United States would have demanded before opening its military bases to inspection.
Somehow the "clear" American position that Iran must fully suspend enrichment in compliance with numerous U.N. Security Council resolutions became in the final agreement an express recognition of Iran's right to enrich and the nullification of all Security Council resolutions.
Once upon a time, President Obama accurately observed that a peaceful Iranian program had no need for an underground enrichment site deeply embedded in a mountain at Fordow, but under the JCPOA all the centrifuges at Fordow remain in place and fully ready to resume activity.
The point is not that the United States did not achieve every goal it set in negotiations. That will always be the case. The point is that after telling the American people repeatedly that "a bad deal is worse than no deal," Obama failed to achieve any of its self-declared parameters for a "good deal."
That strongly suggests that the administration was never serious about its proclaimed goals, and that Obama's assurances that he was prepared to use military force to stop Iran's nuclear program were malarkey, and quickly perceived as such by the Iranians. Throughout the process, the United States negotiated as the party desperate for an agreement, with the predictable results.
IF THE NEGOTIATING POSITION of the United States was enfeebled by Obama's desperate quest for rapprochement with Iran, no matter how many times the Supreme Leader rebuffed such rapprochement in word and deed, it is exponentially worse today. Iran has already pocketed most of the goodies from its point of view – billions in sanctions relief. Were the United States to declare the agreement abrogated by virtue of Iranian violations, Iran would simply resume its nuclear program where it left off. It already knows that there will be no muscular response from the United States under Obama.
To hide this fact from the American people and Congress, the United States has effectively become, in the words of Dr. Emily Landau of the Institute for National Security Studies, "Iran's lawyer." Thus the Obama administration continues to insist that Iran has fully complied with all its undertakings for implementation of the agreement.
But that characterization is something of a tautology: If Iran is in compliance, it is only by virtue of "exemptions" to various JCPOA provisions granted by the United States and other signatories to the agreement. The existence of these exemptions was only revealed last week in a report by the D.C.-based Institute for Science and International Security, co-authored by David Albright, president of the group and a former U.N. weapons inspector.
Those exemptions dealt with the agreement's cap on the amount of low-enriched uranium Iran is allowed to maintain, the treatment of more enriched uranium deemed "unrecoverable," the number of "hot boxes" in excess of 6 cubic meters, which can be used in the production of fissile material from plutonium, Iran is allowed to maintain, and permission to Iran to export "heavy water" to Oman, where it remains under exclusive Iranian control, to evade caps on the amount of such water Iran is entitled to produce.
Even more disturbing than the specific exemptions is the secrecy surrounding them. That secrecy wrote Albright, "interferes in the process of establishing adequate Congressional and public oversight," and allows Iran to "systematically weaken the JCPOA," by exploiting the exemption process. Walter Russell Mead of The American Interest succinctly summarized the matter: [T]he administration didn't want the American people to know how many concessions it made to get the deal." He termed that administration's actions to be evidence of "bad conscience and political squeamishness."
As between Hillary's lying to cover up her corruption and advance her political career, and President Obama's determined efforts to deceive the American people about his actual policies, I find the latter more troubling in the long run and more likely to become the standard for presidents of a progressive bent.
In his new book The Iran Wars: Spy Games, Bank Battles, and the Secret Deals that Reshaped the Middle East, Wall Street Journal reporter Jay Solomon describes how "President Obama, from his first days in office, pursued an opening to Iran and Supreme Leader Ali Khameini with an obsessive commitment." Had the American people or Congress been given the facts to understand the nature of that commitment, America and the world would be a lot safer today.
As a consequence of the JCPOA, all arms embargoes on Iran will terminate in five years, and it will be able to use its billions in sanctions relief on the most advanced weaponry. That weaponry will likely give it the power to make good on closing the Straits of Hormuz, through which 30 per cent of the world's oil passes, if it chooses.
And with the right to continue developing ballistic missiles unimpeded, Iran may soon have warheads capable of reaching the United States and Europe from land or by submarine launch. (Recent reports also suggest that the time before which Iran can start enriching uranium as it wishes may be as little as 11 years, not the 15 previously thought.)
By studiously refraining from involvement in Syria, in order to appease Iran, the Obama has chosen to strengthen the Iran-Assad-Hezbollah alliance, and to allow Russia to re-enter the region as the most decisive power, at the side of Assad.
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have paid at the price of their lives, and Israel faces a far more lethally-armed Hezbollah than ever before.
President Obama came into office promising to run the most transparent administration in history. That has not been the case. The disinfecting power of sunlight has been avoided at great cost to the United States and the world.