Susan Bordo on straightforwardness, honesty, Clinton (and so much else)

Some super-important points here.

 

For several days, I’d been watching the media pundits salivate over last week’s poll results, in which Donald Trump rated 16 points better than Hillary Clinton in a question asking which one was “better” at “being honest and straightforward.” These astonishing results, amazingly, merely afforded the media an opportunity to chew yet again over one of their favorite topics: “Hillary’s honesty problem.” This week, it could be freshly juiced up because Bill Clinton had just put his foot and mouth into the wrong airplane. This allowed Chuck Todd, on Meet the Press, to smoothly segue into a discussion of how the “optics”of that event showed that “The Clintons” [sic] “don’t play by the same rules as other people.” Never mind that Hillary and Bill are, last time I looked, two separate people. As usual, Bill and Hillary, fact and “optics,”got smooshed together in the favored “narrative”of Hillary’s troubles getting people to trust her.

It never occurred to any of the pundits (or simply wasn’t journalistically hot enough) to question the poll question itself. As in: Which quality did respondents have in mind? Truthfulness? Or straighforwardness? As my daughter correctly pointed out, they aren’t the same thing at all. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, “straightforward= easy to understand, simple; without unnecessary politeness” while “honest=truthful or able to be trusted; not likely to steal, cheat, or lie.” So, it’s perfectly possible to lie in a straightforward way (the best liars, in fact, do so baldly) OR to be truthful but not in a straightforward way—for example, when one is trying to tell someone something that will be hurtful or explain something complex or contradictory.

 

In fact, a good argument can be made that Trump is a perfect example of a straightforward liar, while Hillary, who (surprise!) is rated by PolitiFact as the most honest of all the candidates (Sanders runs second, Trump last), has, after decades of concocted scandals, developed her famous “honesty problem” precisely because she has learned to speak the truth so cautiously it seems phony.

And there’s more, including some really important points about the email server “scandal”.  Go read it!

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