Column: The Public Eye: All I Want for Christmas is ... the Truth

By Bob Burnett
Friday December 29, 2006

This is the time of year when many of us take time out to count our blessings and, perhaps, say a few prayers for peace on earth. Of course, I want peace on earth, too. But what I want first is the truth. 

John Lennon said it all: 


I’m sick and tired of hearing things 

From uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocrites 

All I want is the truth 

Just gimme some truth. 


I’m tired of being lied to by President Bush and his minions. I’m tired of hearing his glib assurances about the occupation of Iraq, homeland security, human rights abuses, and everything else of consequence. I’m tired of seeing his disingenuous smile. I’m tired of seeing Dubai shrug, of watching his body language that tells me what he’s really thinking is: “I’m lying; it’s politics; get over it.” I want the truth. Gimme some truth. 

The last several weeks have brought more sickening revelations about the president’s lack of candor. The bipartisan Iraq Study Group report observed the administration hasn’t been telling Americans the whole truth about Iraq: 

“There is significant underreporting of the violence in Iraq. The standard for recording attacks acts as a filter to keep events out of reports and databases… For example, on one day in July 2006 there were 93 attacks or significant acts of violence reported. Yet a careful review of the reports for that single day brought to light 1,100 acts of violence. Good policy is difficult to make when information is systematically collected in a way that minimizes its discrepancy with policy goals.” 

Meanwhile, Bush came out for an increase in the size of the Army, but said he hadn’t made his mind up whether or not there should be a “surge” of troops sent to Iraq-and yet claimed to be “the decider.” And, on Nov. 8, at the news conference where he reported that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld would be replaced by Robert Gates, Bush admitted lying to reporters about Rumsfeld’s status. He did his now familiar “aw shucks” dance: “The only way to answer [the reporter’s] question, and get it on to another question, was to give you that answer.” Bush was unapologetic about lying; he tried to sluff off his behavior as politics as usual 

But, it’s not politics as usual. When even the most cynical observer thought it impossible to set the political bar any lower, Bush has done it. He’s given us politics Ala Dubya; espoused political ethics where it’s okay to lie about everything as long as you win. It’s the politics John Lennon referred to when he wrote about “uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocrites.” And, I’m sick and tired of it: after all, Bush works for the people of the United States. He’s not some corporate CEO who gets paid millions to fudge on corporate earnings so the stock price stays up. George W. Bush is our president: he’s supposed to be a person we can trust. 

The hard truth is that we can’t trust him. Americans have seen too much of Dubya. As a recovering alcoholic, it seems he’s replaced one addiction with another: he doesn’t compulsively drink any more, now he lies. Bush may be sober, but he’s certainly not clean. 

What America needs for Christmas is a fresh start. We need to break away from the sleaze and malfeasance of the Bush administration. Get back on the path to good government; reclaim our democracy. Talk straight for a change. 

We’ve got an opportunity to do that with a Democrat-controlled 110th Congress. The place they should start is by telling Americans the truth. We need straight talk about where we are in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Middle East in general. We need someone other than George Bush to give us an honest assessment of where we are in the campaign against terrorism: what it will take to bring Osama bin Laden to justice and to protect the US from further attacks. We need to come clean about our defense failures. 

Of course, it’s not just Iraq, the campaign against terrorism, and homeland security. Americans desperately need to hear the truth about a wide-array of important issues: global climate change, human rights, healthcare and the social safety net, education, jobs and energy independence, to name only a few. America is in trouble and we can’t count on George W. Bush to either acknowledge this or do something about it. 

We have no choice but to turn to the new Congress. We should ask Democratic leaders such as Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to provide the leadership that the Bush administration hasn’t mustered. And their first step should be to tell America the truth through public statements and congressional hearings. 

That’s what I really want for Christmas. Because I’m “sick and tired of hearing things from uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocrites. All I want is the truth, just gimme some truth.” 


Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. He can be reached at