My Turn, Roger Barbee: Not all lies are equal

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 11, 2022

My son-in-law sent his mother a short video showing President Biden in situations where he lies. The video is a collection of clips covering various years and situations. For instance, in one clip President Biden is shown talking to a woman and man who stand next to a white truck. His back is to the camera, but he is clearly heard saying that he understands the life of being a long-distant driver because he once drove “a big rig.” In another clip he is speaking to a group of Black students, and he tells them that he got his start at Delaware State, the historically Black college in Delaware. The video, while brief, shows President Biden telling more than one lie. It is not a video to be proud of, and it certainly puts President Biden in a compromising position, and it questions his veracity.

The video reminds me of other lies told by prominent people. Secretary Clinton told us that her plane on landing in Bosnia was under sniper fire and she had to run to safety on the tarmac. Brian Williams stated that the helicopter in which he was riding had been fired upon by enemy forces in Iraq.

There is no shortage, unfortunately, of politicians and famous folks telling lies. But I offer that there are at least two types of lies — one embellishes the speaker in some way or is an attempt to protect the speaker. Secretary Clinton lied to make herself appear, it seems, to have experienced first hand the threat of death by an enemy, while her husband lied to save his skin. Brian Williams’ lie was also one to enhance his standing as a fearless reporter. I suggest that a viewer may, after watching the video about President Biden, conclude that each of his lies are told to embellish his standing with his audience.

However, I suggest that not all lies are equal. Some lies, like Williams’ lie, hurt no one but the speaker, and he received consequences because of his lie. The lie about Bosnia hurt only Secretary Clinton. The exposed lies tarnished the reputations of those two, but only harmed the speaker. Herschel Walker lied about his academic record at the University of Georgia, and Madison Cawthorn lied about his being accepted to the Naval Academy. Lies that should force voters to doubt the speaker, but that may not happen, and certainly did not impede Cawthorn’s being elected. Like the lies of President Biden in the video, some of the lies of Walker, Williams and others are easy to fact check. Why tell such a lie?

President Trump lied from his term’s beginning when he lied about the size of the crowd at his inauguration. Why lie about something so easy to check? But it seems that President Trump, in the words of his past lawyer, “Lies like most people breathe.” And not all of his lies are equal. For instance, then inauguration lie is just a sad window into the man’s soul, but his lies about the COVID epidemic, his lies about Putin, his lies about the drove of materials he removed illegally from the White House, threaten our country and its citizens.

While I understand President Clinton’s lie told to protect himself and Walker’s lies about the women in his past life, I do not condone their lies and view them as reasons to disqualify those men from public office. They lie to cover a wrong. However, Trump’s lie about his inauguration crowd and others like this from Biden, Cawthorn and Walker should be forgiven as silly and inconsequential.

But a lie about classified documents or COVID or Putin’s friendship are cause for removal.

Roger Barbee lives in Mooresville. Contact him at