by Peter J. Thomas
If voters thought that honesty and accuracy would be the hallmark of our new president, they have been gravely disappointed. Time and again, President Biden has been caught lying in an effort to make his presidency and his policies look better than an honest appraisal would allow.
When the retreat from Afghanistan turned out to be not an orderly withdrawal, but rather a chaotic, disorganized, poorly planned race for the exits, Biden was quick to say that it was not his fault. He insisted that his military leaders had endorsed his plan and flatly denied that they had recommended leaving a force of 2,500 soldiers in place.
That lie was exposed when the generals testified in public session before the Senate Armed Services Committee on September 28. Both Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and Gen. Frank McKenzie, leading U.S. Central Command, contradicted Biden. They both had told him that 2,500 or more troops should remain for an indefinite period and warned him that, without the U.S. presence, the Afghan army would collapse.
Biden has also repeatedly made the false claim that the Afghan army had 300,000 soldiers. A Washington Post fact-check found the real number to be something less than 180,000, and perhaps much smaller.
The President has denied that he ever supported “nation-building” in Afghanistan, yet at the very beginning of the war he said the United States “absolutely” should be involved in nation-building. He later said that nation building was the only alternative to chaos. Now, he wants us to forget those early comments.
He denied the existence of 900 US troops in Syria, apparently not wishing to admit that he has accepted a continued residual force in one nation at war, while rejecting it in Afghanistan.
It’s not surprising that Biden would want to avoid honestly taking the blame for the greatest disaster in his presidency, a misjudgment that cost American lives and left some Americans behind in Afghanistan. Few politicians would want to do that.
But it is part of a larger pattern of dishonesty.
When Biden took office and illegal immigrants immediately began swarming across the border from Mexico, Biden tried to deny that it was a crisis, since that would have admitted the need for immediate action to bring it to a halt.
While reporters on the spot faithfully quoted the illegal aliens as having come because they believed Biden had put out the welcome mat, Biden denied that his welcoming comments had anything to do with the sudden flood of illegals.
When Georgia passed a new law regarding voting, Biden falsely declared that the law would require closing the polls earlier.
Biden claimed that higher prices for cars had ended, saying on July 21 that “it’s kind of back to what it was before the pandemic.”
He incorrectly claimed that fast-food workers are covered by noncompete agreements that prevent them from switching to another fast-food company (even though fact checkers had previously pointed out his falsehood).
No one should really have expected honesty from Joe Biden. His 2020 campaign was proof of that. He referred to a non-existent “Muslim ban” (actually an anti-terrorist measure affecting people from only a few countries, and making no distinctions between religions). He cast doubt on the effectiveness of the highly effective COVID vaccines developed during the Trump administration. He described the 2017 tax bill, which reduced rates across the board and benefited middle-class taxpayers, as a “giveaway primarily for large corporations and the wealthy”.
Of course, Joe Biden is not the first President to stray from the truth. Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Donald Trump are among those who found it difficult to be honest with the public.
But Biden was supposed to be something new, a change from that past. A majority of voters gave him their support expecting something other than more of the same. We should be able to expect results.
Is presidential honesty just impossible? Will we ever have someone in the Oval Office who is willing to admit being wrong? We can only hope that whoever follows Biden will prove that honesty and leadership are not incompatible.