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The President Obfuscates Words and Numbers

Democracy and Power 108: Obfuscation

Seeking a favorable image, the politician talks in generalities, exaggerates and obfuscates.

The President Obfuscates Words and Numbers

Pulitzer-prize winner, George Will, recently wrote a scathing article on the contortion of words and numbers by President Obama. 


Concerning the mayhem in Syria, over two years ago President Obama said, “The time has come for President Assad to step aside.”  Recently, in the President’s State of the Union he claimed success.  “American diplomacy, backed by the threat of force, is why Syria’s chemical weapons are being eliminated.”  To the contrary, the actual reduction is 4% of 1,300 tons, and Assad continues to murder and is more powerful.


For many years, the Keystone pipeline has been vigorously opposed by environmental groups.  This month the State Department concluded that construction “would support approximately 42,100 jobs (direct, indirect, and induced).” In a July 2013, interview with the New York Times, the President obfuscated “might create maybe 2,000 jobs.”


The workforce participation rate is at a 36-year low.  This week the Congressional Budget Office concluded that ObamaCare will substantially retard the growth of employment reducing the number of hours worked by the equivalent of 2.3 million full-time jobs by 2021. 

In response, Obama administration contorts the report.  The administration obfuscates that Obamacare is lowering healthcare costs, reducing the deficits, increasing employment, and increases personal freedom – a total success.


Most troubling is George Will's projection on Obama negotiations with Iran over nuclear bombs:  “Next, words will supposedly result in Iran ending the decades-old and hugely expensive nuclear weapons program that it says is nonexistent, and will proceed.”

Alas, many years ago a great free-market economist, Hans F. Sennholz, lamented that government is too often a major source of insincerity and mendacity.

... political success is readily attained by saying what people like to hear rather than what is demonstrably true. Instead of safeguarding truth and honesty, the state then tends to become a major source of insincerity and mendacity.