In Politics, They Call Lies By Other Names

By  //  May 4, 2012


ON JANUARY 28, 1986, I was working at the Cocoa Beach Hilton – helping set up the front desk as we were due to open in about a week.

I knew a shuttle launch was to happen that morning, but doubted it would go because the weather seemed too cold. I had seen most every launch so I didn’t bother paying attention as liftoff time approached.

NASA's space shuttle Challenger (STS-51L) crew members, from left, Mission Specialist Ellison S. Onizuka, Pilot Mike Smith, teacher Christa McAuliffe, Commander Dick Scobee, Payload Specialist Greg Jarvis, Mission Specialist Ron McNair and Mission Specialist Judy Resnik. (NASA Image)

About 11:45 am – a few minutes after the launch – a worker came in to the lobby area and said that the shuttle had blown up.

A lot of the workers were gypsy laborers from other areas of Florida, so I figured he didn’t know what he was talking about. In fact, I tried to explain to him what the contrails looked like and how the solid rocket booster ejection appeared like there might be a problem. He looked at me like I was crazy.

Space Shuttle Challenger had exploded. All seven astronauts aboard had been killed. I had missed it.

This didn’t match my life’s narrative. I had grown up a NASA brat. I was a huge supporter of the nation’s space program. T

he most tragic aerospace moment since the Apollo fire in January 1967 had happened in front of the nation and I had been AWOL. I needed a new narrative.

I quickly concocted a story that I had been on the roof of the Hilton and had witnessed history with a group of co-workers. I described how we cried, we hugged, we held hands. Actually – they did. I didn’t. It was a lie.

After a few years, I finally admitted it to friends and stopped telling the lie. I was so sorry I had tainted a tragedy with this lie.

In politics, they call lies by other names – obfuscation and fabrication. But lies by any other name smell as bad.

So, is President Obama is a liar?

It has come out that in his book Dreams of My Father he concocted a story about a white girlfriend he dated in New York City in the 1980s. The reality is she didn’t exist as he portrayed her.

When called on it, President Obama had a Bill Clinton moment. Instead of coming clean, he tried to conjure up some story about “compression” – literary license if you will.

To his credit, he had noted in his book that some characters were “composite.” But…yeah…some say “potato…”

If the story had been an anecdote about dinner choices or a theater critique, it probably wouldn’t really matter. But the story was about race. It was about how this particular white woman thought black people were “angry all the time.” It enhanced stereotype.

It invited divisiveness. It altered the life narrative of Barack Obama. It deserves an apology – not a waffle.

The press normally vets candidates for president. In 2008, they instead coronated Barack Obama. But hope and change have not exactly worked out now, have they? So this time maybe we’ll find out more. We deserve it – and we deserve it truthfully.


You can follow Charles Parker on Twitter @cpbrevard and on BlogTalkRadio from 6:30-7:00 pm Sunday evenings – CLICK HERE to listen.

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