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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

when I lie to you I'm honest and real « Previous | |Next »
May 18, 2010

So "straight talking" Abbott comes clean--he lies to us consistently but we shouldn't take it seriously! This is the game of politics.

Abbott's admission on the 7.30 Report that not everything he says in the heat of debate should be seen as gospel truth is now being spun by the Liberal Party as more evidence their guy is "real" and "honest" and a "straight talker".


The implications is that in politics words have no basic meaning--they just mean whatever the politicians want them to mean in different situations----and this exhibits a total disregard for us in a critical dialogue in a liberal democracy. In doing so they understand effective persuasion in public forums and institutions to be disconnected from truth. They stand for sophistry and spin, just like the advertisers and marketeers of Madison Avenue.

True, Abbott's qualification was that he was not necessarily speaking the truth unless it was in the form of an official statement, such as a speech or a policy document. So that means, as Kerry O'Brien observed, every time Abbott makes a major statement we have to ask him whether it's carefully prepared and scripted or something on the fly?

A further implication is: 'How do we know that what Abbott said on the 7.30 Report is true?' After all Abbott's admission was said during the heat of discussion with Kerry O'Brien. He could be lying all the time. Whatever it takes etc etc. Just like a used car salesman or real estate agent

What we can infer is that rhetoric, for Abbott, has more to do with lies than truth or argument. It has more to do with deception than persuasion. In doing so he is trashing the rhetorical tradition, which he as a Burkean Conservative, should be defending.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 1:15 PM | | Comments (9)


Abbott doesn't speak truth to power. He is about getting power with whatever it takes.

Big red Kezza has had a fantastic run recently.

Abbott's boo boo is just the latest in a long line. I felt sorry for Joe Hockey last night having to defend him on Q&A - Abbott said he lies, which proves he's telling the truth.

Birds sing. Fire burns.... and politicians (of all shades) often lie.

So what's all the commotion about? I reckon Tones wasn't giving away any state secrets.

If they want to score some cheap points with this (non) revelation, Labor has to be VERY careful not to come off as bloody hypocrites!

Oh My Goodness - an honest politician?

I have often been heard to ask ‘show me an honest politician please’ …. Implying non exist! Tony Abbott has shown me how wrong a person can be. He has also shown to the Australian people, that no matter how much angst and bad mouthing is being thrown at him by Kevin Rudd and the Australian Labour Party – he can hold his head up high, because he has told the truth.

Indeed... he can hold his head high because he has told the truth about the fact that he sometimes lies. Or not.

So.... can we assume he hangs his head low when the is less than honest?

Politicians. Is there anything they can't do?

In The Australian Mirko Bagaric says that its okay to lie especially in some situations.

We all lie. Yet none of us accepts that we are dishonest. That's the biggest lie of all. We should be less embarrassed about lying and ditch the delusion that dishonesty is always bad...We nearly always deny lying because we are scared of being viewed as pathological liars and hence never being believed.

True, but we do not not tolerate false and misleading advertising. Bagaric counters this kind of objection by saying that lying is morally permissible in three circumstances. The key to lying is for people to understand when it is OK to stretch (and indeed break) the truth. One
exception to the general prohibition against lying is where it is necessary to achieve important social goods that cannot be secured (at all or at least not very effectively) through transparent means. Thus, covert law enforcement practices and investigative journalism are sound practices.

He says that Abbott's lies are an example of this. According to Bargaric Abbott:
is occasionally expedient with the truth on non-core issues to attract his audience. Is this justifiable? Yes, if it is a means to improving the greater community good by removing an incompetent government.

So the claim is that since competent government cannot be secured through transparent means Abbot should lie and practice deception.

What Bargaric doesn't say is why he considers that a competent government in a liberal democracy cannot be secured through transparent means.

Just ME in T ---how do you know that weathervane Abbott is telling the truth about his lying? This comment was made in the give and take in the heat of debate--a situation when Abbott told us we shouldn't believe him. It was not a carefully prepared, (spin-doctored) scripted remark. In such situations Abbott says he does not mean what he says.

Good point Nan. He could have been lying about lying. It's enough to make your head hurt.

What gives here?
The thing has taken off as a barbecue stopper since QA and you wonder what it is that Abbot is trying to pull, apart from the electorate's leg?
It's all too blatant, this is as dire an effort at leadership as Mark Latham's in the mid noughties, according to some. To me even Latham was more credible than Tony.
So what's really going on at the moment?
Are we being diverted from wondering how things are going in Haiti, just now?
Is it some liberal trick to lull people into forgiving Abbot's fanaticism as stupidity?
At least we're not blaming Conroy any more.