It's OK to be a liar now, and if a liar gets challenged, the way Brett Kavanaugh did at his latest confirmation hearing, the reaction is: "How dare you point out his lies? What is the matter with you?"
I can say with confidence right now Kavanaugh lied about several terms he was questioned on that he included in his high school yearbook. Asked about these terms, Kavanaugh provided quick answers. But anyone with a computer can discover quickly his answers were inaccurate.
Kavanaugh could have said he didn't want to answer, that the answers were embarrassing (these were raunchy terms) and that he was 17 and he doesn't talk or think like that now. That would have been fine. Instead, he lied.
Lots of people will think this is OK, for reasons I do not understand. People tell lies all the time, but aspiring Supreme Court justices do not tell lies all the time when they're under oath and appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Any judge who does should be disqualified from sitting on the court.
Kavanaugh's lies, which I believe went way beyond mistruths about embarrassing sex terms, are part of a larger pattern, established by President Trump, in which lying has become acceptable as a tool for governing. We don't get a lie here and there with Trump but hear a daily stream of lies — dozens a day sometimes — and hundreds upon hundreds since he was elected. Other politicians have lied. But Trump has normalized lying, and unfortunately, a lot of citizens have bought into it, either by ignoring the lies or denying they are lies or, worst of all, justifying them.
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We have seen the trickle-down from Trump's lying in other races, including local congressional races. Political ads have always had a hard edge and often pushed the boundaries of truth. But now candidates like Elise Stefanik seem to feel no need even to justify their use of false claims. If the ad is effective, it's a success. If it's pointed out the ad contains lies, that makes no difference to her or her campaign operatives.
The most troubling example came with the teenager working as a tracker for the Stefanik campaign who lied to a few other teens and to Tedra Cobb, Stefanik's opponent, as he secretly recorded them. He was hoping to catch Cobb in a statement Stefanik could use in campaign ads, and he did.
This was classic ends-justify-means thinking: Let's approve of a teen telling lies to help get our candidate elected. It is the corruption of a minor, and yet no one has apologized for it or voiced any regret. It worked, therefore it was OK.
If Kavanaugh gets through, we will have a proven liar on the Supreme Court, and another of our important institutions will have been infected with the endemic dishonesty of the Trump administration.