IS IT TRUE, OR IS IT CANDID?
by Mark Scheinbaum
American Reporter Correspondent
Boca Raton, Fla
BOCA RATON, Fla., Dec. 25, 2005 -- Listening to politicians from the White House on down, it makes you wonder if officials elected, or appointed, know the difference between what is simply "true" and what is actually "candid?"
"It's when a judge asked the teenager, 'Where were you at 11 p.m. on Saturday, August 9th?' and the kid, sworn to tell the truth answers, 'I was at the Seven-11,'" a retired federal judge once explained to me.
He continued with the punchline, "The kid was telling the truth, but the candid answer would have included the postscript, 'And I robbed it!'"
A lack of awareness by citizens as to the difference between truth and candor starts, or perhaps does not start, at an early age.
Two world-renowned political scientists and sociologists, who helped start the entire behavioral science academic movement, explored this in the late 1950's. Profs. Gabriel Almond and James Coleman in their "Politics of Developing Areas" (1960) looked at different cultures and pretty well figured out that most kids in elementary or middle school years have clue about political reality, the President, the Vice President, the Queen, their member of parliament, etc.
Children around age 10 or 11 might know that "George Bush" is President, but ask them to name their governor or mayor and you scored a blank.
Without any strong family or educational roots in government, politics, legislation, the judiciary, etc. why would we adults expect that children would grow up with any refined ear or eye for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? In my home county after six teenagers jammed into one joy-riding car were killed, one parent told the press:
"My daughter said she was going to a movie and promised to call when the movie was over, and she did what she promised."
Unfortunately her daughter forgot to add, "And now Johnny is taking us drag racing in the Everglades."
The candid answer seems to elude many Americans.
More than four decades have opassed since Almond & Coleman, Dr. James Gimpel and other political scientists found that the age of "political awareness" is growing older. Even at the turn of the Millenium, it might not be until age 14 or 15 that most kids have any clue as to their elected officials might be. (Cultivating Democracy: Civic Environments and Political Socialization in America; Gimpel, Lay et al, Brookings 2003).
So, as a public service, let's provide the citizenry with a check list on "truth" vs. "candor" with respect to some current and past issues. Some of the "quotes" are embellished a bit, or paraphrased, for emphasis - and to elicit a rim shot from the comedy club audience.
The President's Truth: "We adhered to the law, and at every single step in these secret wiretaps, we informed Congressional leadership."
The President's Candid Addemdum: "However, we never really mentioned to the members of Congress that these wiretaps would side-step the special court and special judges established by an Act of Congress 30 years ago - and we didn't tell you how much information we actually gathered."
The Vice President's Truth: "Given the same circumstances, we'd invade Iraq again today. The entire United Nations in a dozen resolutions, looked at the available information, and determined Iraq had weapons of mass destruction."
The Vice President's Candid Addendum: "I must admit that we never told the United Nations that our own intelligence officials doubted the veracity of the information."
Colin Powell Truth: "I've gone over this stuff in detail, and Iraq is an imminent danger to produce nuclear weapons and threaten the world."
Powell Candid Addendum: "But I caution the United Kingdom and others with whom we have shared this information, that some of the analysts and diplomats who went to Africa and other places to research these reports think they are phony."
Condoleeza's Truth: "The successful elections in Iraq, show that the Iraqi people yearn for democracy, and at threat to life and limb bravely voted with no major incidents of corruption."
The Candid Condoleeza: "Even so, I am disturbed that a band of Kurdish police officers stormed poll after poll, voting en masse, and refused to dip their fingers in ink, re-voting as if trained by the late Mayor Daley in Chicago. We will seek sanctions or a recount in those polling stations."
The Clinton Truth: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman!"
A Candid Clinton: "Although it sure felt like it."
The Al Gore Truth: "I reviewed my fundraising practices from offices inside the White House and determined there was no controlling authority against what I did."
The Al Gore Candid Story: "... [A]nd I'm particularly proud, upon learning of the federal prohibition against calling for political contributions on White House or government phones, that I thought to order a new private phone bank installed, so I could claim that 'technically' I wasn't calling from a White House phone."
The Karl Rove Truth: "What the Vice President did or did not say in meetings with oil company executives is a privileged matter, which will be kept private."
The Candid Rove Addendum: "Also, since these are the biggest gubernatorial and presidential contributors to the President, there is no way he would ever embarrass them, or even ask them to be sworn under oath in testimony before Congress.
The Sgt. Shultz Truth: "I know noooooothing!"
The Alfred E. Newman Candid Addendum: "What, me worry?"