Monday, October 27, 2008

When the Truth Is Not Enough

"O Tempora, O Mores," said Cicero in bemoaning the times and customs of Rome. Well, we are now in the last week of an election campaign, and we should be wary of lies, big and small, in these final days. Usually these will be lies about an opponent, but sometimes they take the form of stretching the truth about one's own greatness. Sometimes, candidates and their supporters will tell a fib about insignificant matters when the truth would serve them just as well.

Take for example a letter from Aaron Stahl that appeared in the local newspaper yesterday. Mr. Stahl is some kind of consultant, so maybe he should be forgiven his inaccurate remarks and his penchant for time-shifting whoppers. It could have been ignorance instead of intentional deceit, but it was a stretch of the truth nonetheless. Mr. Stahl got wound up about how wonderful Walt Eilers was, then said, "One of his first projects upon moving to Fayetteville was to help save Old Main. He met with influential local leaders, researched and found community support and helped save Old Main. That was his first project here!"

Now, even mayoral candidate Eilers will admit that he didn't move to Fayetteville until August, 2000, just eight years ago. As Walt likes to tell the Stahl story, his first visit to Fayetteville was when he was an employee of a Little Rock marketing firm that was hired to publicize the Save Old Main campaign in 1986, and he says he was supposed to do "a feasibility study to save Old Main at the U of A from becoming a parking lot."

Old Main was never going to be razed to make room for a parking lot, but I guess Eilers thinks that makes for a better story than the truth. The point is, keep your thinking hat on this week. Candidates will be saying all sorts of things they will regret when they come to their senses next Wednesday. So when one of them trys to tell you that they alone are responsible for everything good that has happened in the last eight years, remember it is the custom and the time of lies, big and small.

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