Lie: noun; 1. a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood. 2. something intended or serving to convey a false impression; imposture. 3. an inaccurate or false statement.
As I posted earlier, yesterday Chris Dodd claimed that he had nothing to do with the exemption in his executive compensation amendment to the stimulus bill for bonuses distributed pursuant to contracts entered into prior to February 11. From Fox Business:
Dodd’s original amendment did not include that exemption, and the Connecticut Senator denied inserting the provision.
“I can’t point a finger at someone who was responsible for putting those dates in,” Dodd told FOX. “I can tell you this much, when my language left the senate, it did not include it. When it came back, it did.” [emphasis added]
On Tuesday, Dodd denied to CNN that he had anything to do with adding the language, which has been used by officials at bailed-out insurance giant AIG to justify paying millions of dollars in bonuses to executives after receiving federal money.
He said Wednesday that the “grandfather clause” language “seemed like innocent modifications” at the time.
“I agreed reluctantly,” Dodd said. “I was changing the amendment because others were insistent.”
Dodd said he did not speak to high-ranking administration officials and the change came after his staff spoke with staffers from Treasury.
Yesterday he didn’t know where the language mysteriously materialized from, and today he said it was his. At least one of the statements is a lie; I can think of no reasonable alternative. He didn’t want to take the blame for allowing these bonuses to be paid in the face of the violent public reaction, so he said something that he knew was not true to mislead his constituents.
Lies vary in their significance and severity, but every intentional telling of an untruth chips away at the liar’s credibility.
Some lies are insignificant, like telling you daughter there is a fairy that comes into her room at night and exchanges the tooth she lost in her Granny Smith apple for cash (what’s the going rate for a seven year old incisor, anyway?); but when she inevitably finds you were leading her on, she will feel a sense of betrayal and somewhere in her psyche you lose some level of credibility.
Other lies are bigger, or more significant. You know it when you tell a big lie; you can feel it in your gut. Your body has certain involuntary physiological reactions, some which are obvious and others which are not. You look away, you blush, your pulse quickens, your blood pressure rises. Think Scott Peterson telling Diane Sawyer he didn’t kill his wife. More significant lie, less credibility remaining afterwards.
I would also posit that the severity of a lie can be scientifically categorized as either “bad” or “not-so-bad.” Telling the SS soldier at the door in Nazi Germany that there are no Jews in the house when in fact there is a family hiding in your closet would qualify as a not-so-bad lie. Telling your wife you have to work late when you are actually going to a motel to meet your girlfriend is a bad lie. The difference are largely in the motivations of the liar.
Accusing someone of lying is a serious charge. After all, lying made the all-time top ten list of bad things to do (see Exodus 20:16). In the end, when all the superficial stuff is stripped away, one’s integrity is all they really have, and to accuse someone of lying is to take a shot at their integrity. It is not something I do lightly.
That being said, it certainly appears as though Chris Dodd lied. His lie is both significant and severe, and another huge chunk of Dodd’s credibility has been flushed down the toilet.
The worst part is that he actually had a reasonable explanation. If he had said from the beginning that he added the language at the behest of Treasury or the Administration to save the amendment, many people would have accepted that. Instead, when placed under pressure, he lied, leaving Connecticut voters no reason to believe anything he says in the future.
I question whether Senator Dodd has enough credibility remaining to allow him to effectively serve as Connecticut’s senator.
Cross-posted at The Artful Doddger.