Journalists have only their personal credibility to rely on. After all, once a reporter is known to fabricate their stories, why and how would you ever again believe what he or she says?
The same holds true, or at least should hold true, for politicians and legislators. Although politicians may be granted some limited poetic license to make their case, at the end of the day, Americans expect their elected leaders to be straight with them, and to make laws based on fact and reality.
This is the basic public trust now that Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona admits to have broken. He admits, essentially, to not only lying on the Senate floor, but also to trying to enact a law based on his falsehood.
In the lead-up to Friday’s deadline to avert a government shutdown, Kyl and his fellow Republicans were trying to dig in to protect their measure to cut off funds to Planned Parenthood. Kyl stood up, and with CSPAN’s cameras carrying his statement nationwide, told Americans that “90 percent” of Planned Parenthood’s activities are abortion-related. That’s poppycock, of course. And MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell so eloquently corrected the record just hours after Kyl tried to get away with this horrible lie. The truth is that just 3 percent of Planned Parenthood services are abortion-related. Moreover, none of those services are federally funded because of the Hyde Amendment which has been the law of the land for more than 30 years. O’Donnell tearfully read an email from a woman of such modest means that she must rely on Planned Parenthood for a variety of her basic medical services, such as mammograms.
Jon Kyl not only wanted to deprive this woman, and all the other men and women who depend on Planned Parenthood services, of access to care, he was willing to make up lies and whatever inaccurate stories he could get away with in order to do it. Kyl was caught in his lie, of course. Rather than claim that he was given incorrect information, he announced that his “remark was not intended to be a factual statement.” Kyl admitted that he was, just basically making stuff up as he went along. He may be Arizona’s junior senator, but Kyl is no newbie. He is the second highest ranking Republican in the Senate. He should know better than just lying, bald-faced as he did, on the Senate floor. How would Kyl feel if he were to vote a certain way on a piece of legislation only to find other senators had lied to him in order to do so?
Kyl maintains a sizable staff of aides. The senator and his team would do well to hire researchers for these positions, and not the aspiring novelists and fantasy writers he apparently currently pays to write his speeches. This time Kyl got caught. How many other times during his long career has Kyl lied and gotten away with it? How many laws has the senator successfully seen enacted into law based on his other make-believe?
It’s just as shameful to think Kyl is willing to lie to the same taxpayers who pay his generous federal salary! Do you think the Arizonans who repeatedly elected this man voted for such shenanigans? Let’s be clear, Senator Kyl broke no laws and there will be no ethics investigation of the incident. But he did violate the public trust.
Jon Kyl is a liar and a national disgrace.
Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade. Capitol Idea is his regular column from Washington. This article was first published as Sen. Jon Kyl Admits To Lying To His Fellow Americans on Blogcritics.