Have you seen this chart being posted by various people in the last week? It purports to show that Barack Obama has issued more than 900 executive orders during his first term, which is said to be wildly out of proportion to every other president who’s used them.
The point is to show that Obama is ruling by fiat. He’s going around Congress and ruling more like a king. It looks pretty scary. The only problem is that it’s a lie. Everything about it is made up.
Here’s a look at the real numbers. Obama has actually issued 138 executive orders. George W. Bush had 173 during his first term, by comparison. Various other presidents have issued hundreds of them. Franklin Roosevelt actually issued more than 3,000 during his four terms, instead of the 11 that the chart gives him credit for.
As you know, I don’t care for Obama or any other president. You can imagine how happy I am about any executive order. But the facts of what Obama and other presidents have done is bad enough. There’s no reason to make things up. When people make up lies to support their attacks on politicians, they’re only hurting themselves in the long run.
When you make up lies such as this and spread it to your friends, you will certainly have some people rush to spread the lie — because people want to believe something negative is true about people they don’t like. But anybody who takes 10 seconds to do a search will find out that none of it is true. This makes the people who spread it look foolish, and it also damages the credibility of those who are legitimately attacking the politician.
When we make honest charges against Obama, those who support him can remember this case (and plenty of others like it) in which a search for the facts proved that the charge was false. That makes them tend to automatically reject evidence against the president, because they’ve seen that the people in the opposition have no respect for the truth.
There’s another kind of nutty lie going around right now, but it’s of a different kind. Some people are claiming that 15 states have filed petitions to withdraw from the United States. Although I would be thrilled if secession were really a serious possibility, nothing could be further from the truth. The only thing that’s going on is that random individuals in 15 states have started petitions at the White House petition website asking that their states be allowed to secede. The state governments themselves have nothing to do with these petitions. These are just random activists typing in their pajamas. They mean absolutely nothing. (See the bottom of this article for a graphic going around which purports to prove that 15 states are trying to secede.)
Truth matters. Being fair to your opponents should matter. More than anything, your integrity ought to matter. Quit spreading these sorts of lies. Protect your credibility and be fair to the people you oppose. Being honest helps all of us in the long run.
Hold yourself accountable for being honest and fair — and hold your allies accountable, too. It’s the credible thing to do. There’s enough to attack your opponents for without resorting to lies.