The line comes from an enraged Soviet Navy officer to his superior, Captain Tupolev, in the film version of Tom Clancy's thriller The Hunt for Red October. Clancy fans will remember Tupolev as the Soviet submariner tasked with destroying the Russian super-sub Red October, captained by Tupolev's old teacher, the defecting Marko Ramius (Sean Connery). Egotistical, obsessed with getting Ramius, in the heat of battle the not very bright Tupolev impulsively launches a torpedo against the advice of his senior officer. Too late he realizes the torpedo has been led back to a target other than the Red October. At the very last moment he understands the horrible truth as his senior officer screams the line above seconds before Tupolev's sub is destroyed -- by the torpedo launched with Tupolev's own hand.
Barack Obama is now in the process of being Tupoleved by the American Left. More amusingly, the American Left is in the process of being Tupoleved by the American Left. The torpedo? Two simple words repeated ad nauseam now for years. The words?
This is the driving narrative of the Bush administration as portrayed by the likes of the Huffington Post, the Daily Kos, MoveOn.org and the rest of the perpetually outraged members of the Angry Left. An intelligence mistake in the Bush era like those missing WMD's? Bush lied! Changes of position by the administration? Bush lied! Bush and company, we are repeatedly informed, simply tell flat out lies. Big lies, small lies, medium-sized lies. These lies are told deliberately, from dawn to dusk 24/7 with the malice aforethought of cold-blooded liars possessing vastly ill intentions towards truth, justice and, well, all that stuff (they don't really like to speak of The American Way over on that side).
Talk about the law of unintended consequences. The twist here is so delicious it almost deserves a Clancy thriller of its own.
THE PROBLEM THE ANGRY LEFT has brought Tupolev-style both to the door step of Barack Obama as well as to its own is that having emphatically laid down the rules in the body politic as to what constitutes a lie it is suddenly finding the same rules are now being applied not only to their candidate but to themselves as well.
Let's start with Obama.
On issue after issue, whether confessing to a mistake or tailoring his latest position for political effect ("moving to the center" is what they call this in political lingo), Obama's words are now increasingly being received as bald untruths. His image is turning into that of presidential candidate as Pinocchio, the would-be president as habitual liar. Simply googling "Obama Lies" produces thirteen million references on the subject -- thirteen million! -- as opposed to just over a million references to "Bush Lies" and three million for "Bill Clinton Lies." Type in "McCain Lies" and you find a meager 213,000 entries. Among the Obama thirteen million are "Obama's Fifty Lies" and "More Obama Lies the Media Will Ignore" while You Tube features a video clip called "Barack Obama Lies to America." Others are busy cataloguing Obama statements as "bigger" or "demonstrable" lies, with an entire site devoted to Obama's "laundry list of lies."
Presented as examples of Obama's blatant lying are everything from his descriptions of his personal relationships to his political positions. This includes his statements on his relationships with convicted felon Tony Rezko (something Obama called "a boneheaded mistake"), his controversial pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright (a 20-year relationship which he has now disavowed) and his political supporter and fellow Woods Foundation board member, the Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers (Obama dismissed this relationship as "flimsy"). The portrait of Obama as liar also zeroes in on his every twist and turn in his political positions. This includes but is decidedly not limited to his sudden reversals on issues as varied as campaign finance reform, single payer health care, vouchers for District of Columbia school kids, Iraq, Israel, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), welfare reform, NAFTA and the building of a fence along the Mexican-U.S. border.
With liberals having laid out very bright markers as to what constitutes a "lie" by the Bush administration -- mistakes, outright changes of position or anything that can remotely be interpreted as misleading -- it should be no surprise then that Obama's mistakes, sudden and/or repeated flip-flops, or misleading statements on issues are not taken, as they were with Senator John Kerry in the 2004 race, as a sign of indecisiveness or weakness. This time around, with the left's "Bush lied" mantra beaten into the public consciousness, what Obama presents as mistakes or as a "refining" of his positions are being seen as outright lies.
PERHAPS MOST AMUSINGLY he is seemingly being held to these standards not just by his opponents. His creators and idolaters over there on the Angry Left profess to being shocked -- shocked! -- with his new political positions as well. Or so they say. Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitas says, "There is a line between 'moving to the center' and stabbing your allies in the back," a polite version of calling his creation a liar. Arianna Huffington was so alarmed she wrote a Huffington Post "Memo to Obama" imploring him not to shift positions because to do so was to make "a very serious mistake" not to mention a "losing strategy." She stopped just short of using the "L" word. Over there at the Talking Points Memo the buzz phrase is "supporter discontent." Others on the left are now sneering that Obama "is just another politician" or that he is "betraying his base" by "caving in to Republicans." These too are barely polite ways of making an accusation their hero has lied to them.
First, what is most striking in watching the "Obama lies" image take off is the left's inability to learn from their own history of the last several decades. This is not the first time they have launched a Tupolev. Carried away with a zealous lust to "get" this or that opponent, they consistently launched torpedoes that sooner or later honed in on their own leaders. Repeatedly deploying special prosecutors against both the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, they were stunned and embittered to see Republicans successfully use the tactic Democrats had made so acceptable -- against the Clinton administration. In 1991's drive to smear Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas and deny him a seat on the Court, they launched a torpedo labeled "women tell the truth" when it came to claims of sexual harassment. A mere seven years later they were staggered to realize that their torpedo, freshly re-labeled "Paula Jones," almost sank the USS Clinton completely with an assist from another torpedo launched way back in the get-Nixon era: a special prosecutor-induced impeachment.
Second. The lethal nature of all this to Obama's credibility ironically poses the real twist in this story. Because it isn't just his credibility that's at stake. A refusal to distance themselves from Obama as he mysteriously becomes a FISA supporter or a NAFTA cheerleader or when, as he did just the other day, disavows MoveOn.org and says he is "refining" his anti-Iraq war policy leaves his allies who brought him to this presidential nominating dance with a serious credibility problem of their own. Do all these Obama mistakes, refining of positions, and outright changes mean all these Obama-boosters got him wrong? Did they trust a guy who turns out to be not the restorer of Camelot but just another lying Chicago pol? Did they tell the rest of us something that wasn't true? In other words, to put it in the blunt terms they like to use, did Barack Obama lie to them? Or did they lie to the rest of us? And are they continuing to do so?
IS IT JUST Obama who lies? Or are we watching a scenario unfold that tells us Huffington Lies, Moulitas Lies, MoveOn Lies and that their empires are now devoted to lying a man they know to be a liar into the White House?
Having set out with not inconsiderable success to torpedo the Bush Administration by getting the public used to the idea that every word Bush utters is a deliberate, willful lie, the American Left is discovering too late that they have launched yet another Tupolev torpedo. This Tupolev torpedo is now hurtling straight towards the heart of Barack Obama's credibility. Not to mention the credibility of the American Left itself.
"Obama lies" outvotes "Bush lies" thirteen million to one million on the Internet. There's an election result you won't hear much about in the media. The "arrogant asses" are killing themselves. And that's no lie.