Lowered expectations

Why aren’t Sarah Palin’s lies about the Troopergate report news? Because by now no one expects her to tell the truth.

1. The Alaskan Legislative Council, dominated by Republicans, voted unanimously to publish an investigator’s report finding that Sarah Palin had not exceeded her powers in firing the Public Safety Commissioner but had abused her power by using public authority for a private purpose (revenge on her ex-brother-in-law), and that in so doing she had violated a statutory Code of Ethics for public officials.

2. Palin immediately announced that she had been “cleared of any legal wrongdoing, any hint of unethical activity.”

Question: Why did she think she could get away with making statements flatly contrary to fact? Why was she mostly right? (Apparently neither Troopergate nor her lying about it came up on this morning’s interview shows.)

Answer: No one expects Palin, or McCain for that matter, to tell the truth. They have managed to make each new lie into a non-event: a dog-bites-man story.

It’s an accomplishment, of sorts.

The problem with the bromide “all politicians lie” is that it elides the distinction between someone who sometimes stretches the truth under pressure and someone who routinely just makes sh!t up. Read the transcript. This isn’t ordinary lying. If it’s not schizophrenia, which seems inconsistent with everything else we know about Palin, then it’s frank sociopathy.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com