There's all kinds of lies and liars
June 12, 2008 · Updated 4:32 PM
A recent e-mail from a former acquaintance here in Kitsap County forced me to do some thinking.
The e-mail basically accused me of hypocrisy, taking me to task for pontificating on moral right and wrong in this column while, in this persons mind, I was far from perfect myself.
Of course, my initial response when Im criticized is a defensive one. Like yours, Ill bet.
Me, a hypocrite?
But in this case, although there were extenuating circumstances, I had, upon reflection, not treated this person fairly. I did what I could to rectify the situation, and then I started the aforementioned heavy thinking.
Those in the public eye, whether under the gaze of millions, or merely in the sights of 16,000 readers of this newspaper, ought to be aware they are being watched closely by a variety of folks.
My research shows that there are five major schools of thought on how to handle this extra scrutiny.
Theres the former president Richard Nixon approach:
Never admit a mistake, or if a mistake was made and you cant hide it, erase the tape.
Blame a subordinate.
Claim you were misquoted.
Tell a new lie.
I dont know about no Watergate.
Resign and start a whole new set of lies to rehabilitate your image.
Then theres the former-president, Bill Clinton approach:
Deny first, and then when caught, split hairs.
Well, you wouldnt really count that as sex, would you?
Or, I didnt inhale.
Then theres the Charles Barkley approach:
Whataya mean role model? I aint no role model.
Then theres the William Bennett approach:
Ill see that pair of aces and raise you 8 million moral dollars.
And finally, theres the Mike Tyson approach.
I didnt do it but I wish I had.
Or in another mood:
Thats who I am. A bad....
The Charles Barkley approach is the most congenial to me, if I am forced to pick one.
I am pretty good at writing columns and they asked me to write one. So read the darn things and see if you agree with the words written, despite what you know, or think you know, about me.
My next favorite approach is the Tyson manner.
If I wrote it, its true, and if you dont like it, well lend me your ear over here.
The Bennett approach is probably the worst of the five because you get nailed to your own cross. Its not only embarrassing, it undercuts your message. The truth is Bill Bennett isnt a very good man, but his message was good. So this was a case where the message died when the messenger was killed and thats too bad.
The Clinton approach is the most understandable that doesnt mean I think it isnt wrong and wrongheaded. It is.
But Big Bills skating around the truth looks pretty familiar to me as the parent of two.
Uh, no Dad, I didnt take your last beer out of the fridge. Oh, you found the bottle under my bed? Well, maybe my sister was in there. Oh, shes away at cheerleader camp? I forgot. Well, I had the bottle but it was already empty when I got it.
Clintons method is that of the child. But Clinton isnt alone.
Richard Nixon, as biographers have shown, always felt excluded. Feeling so, he also felt that anything he did was the right thing because they didnt like him, didnt respect him, didnt trust him.
By the end of his life his own actions had brought everything he feared down on his head.
I grew up in a semi-ghetto back East. My neighborhood was full of Irish, German, and white-trash kids. I am a little bit of all three, so dont call the politically correct police because I used the white-trash label. I can say it if Im talking about myself.
Literally right across the railroad tracks from us was a big African American neighborhood. Whenever we did anything that brought the cops we said, I just saw two black guys running away.
The funny thing was I had a lot of black friends, and they said whenever the cops came into their neighborhood, the brothers would claim they just saw a mick, a kraut, and a poor white buckra boy running away.
I mean everything I say in these columns.
That doesnt necessarily make me a better person than you, though.
Merely a guy with a column who is trying to do the right thing most of the time.
Just like you, I hope.
Dennis Wilken is can be reached at
(360) 876-4414, or by e-mail at dwilken