The Truth in Politics Act

This is a historical post.

Day 1:

Wally: I’m Wally Cronkquist and that popping noise you just heard ring round the world is the sound of 250 million corks simultaneously celebrating the passage of the Truth in Politics Act. Only two years ago the controversial “Referendum Amendment” passed, allowing individual citizens the right to create their own bills and put them on a national voting ballot. The Truth in Politics Act is the first use of this new process.

With me is Chuck Sneadman, political professor from Harvard, here to explain the new law.

Chuck: Well, Wally, it’s quite simple, really. From this point forward, all politicians are required to receive a chip implanted in their brain that gives them an electric shock every time they try to either lie or spin the truth. At last all political problems will be solved because only honest politicians will stay in power!

Day 3:

Wally: This is Wally Cronkquist, reporting from the White House. Today’s address by the President is the first political speech since the passage of the Truth in Politics Act. It would seem that now that the truth isn’t optional politicians like the limelight less and have a lot less to say.

Here comes the President now. He’s shaking! I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so nervous before a speech.

President: My dear ladies and gentleman of the press. People of the nation. Honored guests. I’m pleased to be standing before you today. Ow!

Wally: It looks like the President just received an electric shock. But he’s courageously recovering with his dignity in tact.

President: Actually, I don’t want to be out here at all. I disagree with this new law. The honest half of congress has already resigned rather than receive the implant. Those that remain are the ones that are so experts at lying that they actually believe everything they say.

Heckler: Afraid of the truth, Mr. President?

Wally: Why, there is an uproar in the audience. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a scene. But the president is holding up his hand to quiet every one down.

President: First, I want to talk about my new health care programs. The truth is that it is probably going to cost a lot of money. And far more than even I realize.

LBJ originally got Medicare passed by intentionally not projecting the long term costs. He knew if he did it would never pass. But do you really think Medicare was a bad idea?

I honestly believe the same is true for my health care bill today. But since I can’t actually foresee the future, I have no way of knowing that for sure.

Heckler: You lie!

President: Okay, here is the full truth for you: none of the government’s projections have ever had any degree of accuracy beyond guessing. But we all know that people will anchor on the numbers and forget that they are made up, so it makes us all feel like things are under control and there is value in the perception of control.

So the real reason I’m in favor of this health bill is because my gut tells me it’s a good idea and I have faith it will work out. But if my gut is wrong, it will be pretty bad.

Now to talk about my other main initiative: shoring up our overseas presence. I am asking for more troops because I have no choice. If I do nothing and later there is an attack on American soil I and my party will be blamed and routed in the next election, and rightly so. Of course that’s an unpopular decision for some in my party, so we’ve arranged for some in-party fighting and long deliberations on the subject for the American people’s benefit.

Heckler: How long will we really be there, Mr. President?

President: Actually, troop and war estimates are no more accurate then finance estimates. So the true answer is — I have no idea. If things go well – and that is a possibility – our estimates might turn out to be somewhat accurate. But it’s equally likely to be a long time, maybe decades.

Wally: Unbelievable! The crowd is booing the president.

President: Now at this point in my speech, I’m supposed to remind you all, using careful nuance, that all these problems are actually my predecessor’s fault, and therefore his party’s fault. But the truth is that I’m not sure about that. I have to confess that I really don’t know if my party would have done anything differently or would have handled it more competently. Heck, my own Secretary of State voted to wage two simultaneous wars back then! And the real reason I could come out against a the second war at the time was because I was a complete nobody back then. If I had already been a senator, I’d probably have voted for two wars too because that was what the American people wanted based on the faulty intelligence we had at the time.

Heckler: Impeach them all!

Wally: It’s pandemonium! Hey, cut away before someone hits the speaker of the house on the nose with a chair.

Day 4:

Wally: This is Wally Cronkquist, reporting live from New York. Today the Truth in Politics Act has been repealed. We have Chuck Sneadman here to tell us what happened.

Chuck: Well, I’m speechless. I have no theory to explain this. I guess dishonest politicians weren’t the core problem after all. Back to you Wally.

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