Over the years Politicians have been renowned for lying shamelessly even when they did not have to. We have a compiled a list of past American politicians who told certain lies. The list is endless but let’s consider these few.
According to an article by the American Conservative, President. Johnson promulgated a myriad of falsehoods and cover-ups surrounding Vietnam and so much more. Distinguished historian Robert Dallek, in Lyndon B. Johnson, summed things up by repeating a popular joke from the time: “How do you know when Lyndon Johnson is telling the truth? When he pulls his ear lobe or scratches his chin, he’s telling the truth. When he begins to move his lips, you know he’s lying.”
And if infidelity equals a lack of integrity, then I’d argue that Johnson’s predecessor, John F. Kennedy, was one of the most dishonest presidents to have ever lived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. JFK’s numerous affairs are fair game when assessing his character because, as historian Doris Kearns Goodwin put it, “Someone who refuses to deal honestly with his private life may well distort the reality he confronts in public office.”
In An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, details of six salacious affairs that Kennedy juggled while he was president is given. Among his alleged mistresses were three White House secretaries (one was his wife Jackie’s press secretary) and a 19-year-old college sophomore and White House intern.
JFK’s most shameful lie, though, concerned the Bay of Pigs fiasco when he promised the American people that there would be “no military intervention in Cuba.” Just five days later on April 17, 1961, the CIA-led and Kennedy approved covert invasion of the island not only cost the lives of many, but resulted in a breakdown of trust and communication with Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Russia’s Nikita Khrushchev—conditions that led to the Cuban Missile Crisis a year later.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt also struggled to maintain integrity, both in his personal life and in politics. For one thing, he and his administration went to great lengths to hide the extent of his health problems from voters during his New York gubernatorial and presidential campaigns. Another lie came out repeatedly when he was trying to win a third term in the White House: “I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again: your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.” He added at another campaign rally: “Your president says this country is not going to war.”
His words made for good campaign rhetoric as a peace candidate, but FDR was lying. Even as he made such assurances, he knew war with Germany and Japan was likely inevitable and he and Winston Churchill were secretly planning accordingly. It’s worth mentioning as well that, like Kennedy, FDR had an affair with his wife’s secretary, and that according to his biographer Jean Edward Smith, it was FDR’s mistress, not his wife, who was “the last face FDR saw before he died.”
Another lie was from President Obama who when defending the NSA mentioned repeatedly that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it.” President Nixon tried to cover up his role in the Watergate scandal, President Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives for lying under oath, and President George W. Bush out-fibbed them all when he said there was “no doubt” Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, falsely justifying America’s entry into yet another horrific war.
The lies told by these great men impacted lives. The effects of some even still exist till date. It is obvious these men may have failed the true test of integrity at different times yet they attained and many even maintained their esteemed position even after these lies were uncovered. A president should not need to lie. A lie told at such an elevated level is capable of remaining unverifiable as all checks to validate it may keep bouncing back due to the many forces that could end up being in play.