This post is not about the Valerie Plame CIA leak investigation and trial currently being conducted in Washington. Frankly, I find it all fairly dull. This is also not a "Republicans Are Liars" post -- what I am about to write applies to any party and any politician, whether it's the Clinton White House or Shrub's.
What this post is about, however, is honesty, and why you have to start legal proceedings against someone before you can get them to speak under oath.
In a column from John Dickinson, writing on Slate.com about the testimony yesterday of former White House Press Secretary, Ari Fleischer, comes the following comment:
Only moments before Ari's surprise disclosure, I had been trying to figure out what my lede would be for today. I enjoyed seeing Ari have to answer questions under oath, which he never had to do in the White House briefing room. As a reporter, I'd always tried to put him in the witness box, and he always climbed out.
And it made me think -- why don't we make the White House Press Secretary give press conferences under oath? Currently we're pretty much admitting that we know he's lying to us, or (at best) spinning things to such a dizzying degree that the truth can barely stand up. There ought to be some sort of "binding oath" we can apply to government spokespeople without having to go through the entire rigmarole of a full court trial, one that you can actually be fined or jailed for violating just like you were in front of a judge. Call it a "Working Trial Oath" -- make the spokesperson put their hand up and swear to "Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth", and then if they don't, find them in Contempt of Truth.
Granted, you can lie without actually lying, as anyone who's ever watched a Senate hearing can attest to. And if it weren't for some lying, society as we know it would completely fall apart ("Uh, take out the trash? Why, yes, yes I did take the trash out darling ... "). But still, there ought to be some way to get the people who work for us in our government to be forced to tell the truth without having to drag their ass into a courtroom.