Time to End the 'Nice Guy' Lie

When a politician calls his a opponent "a good guy," it means he is about to say just the opposite.

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Of all the lies being told in the current campaign season—and there are some whoppers—the one that is becoming particularly irritating is the insistence by one side that a candidate on the other side is a nice guy.

The Democrats' keynote speaker at their convention, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, said he thinks GOP nominee Mitt Romney is "a good guy." Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, told a rally in Nevada that "President Obama is not a bad guy.

[See editorial cartoons about the 2012 election.]

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, in a statement against the Massachusetts Republican incumbent, said, "Scott Brown may not be a bad guy. And Scott Howell, the Democrat seeking to defeat veteran GOP Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, said recently that Hatch "is not a bad guy.


All of these comments were followed by one slam or another. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee thinks Brown is in bed with Big Oil. Castro went on to say that Romney "just doesn't know how good he's had it. Ryan said Obama is "just really bad at creating jobs. And Howell, in a rather disgraceful attack on the 78-year-old senator, said his opponent was "an old guy who might not make it through another term. That assault is particularly egregious and ill-informed: Washington, first of all, is one of the few places where people hit their professional stride in their 70s. And Hatch—who doesn't drink or smoke and is a physical fitness buff—is in great shape. He's also one of the last true gentlemen of the Senate, so it's unlikely that he'll respond on the same low level Howell set.

[Read Orrin Hatch's tribute to Ted Kennedy.]

But what's with the "nice guy caveats? We all know these folks don't like most of their opponents and think they will end American civilization as we know it. Do they think they'll win over wavering voters by suggesting it's not actually personal? There was a common feminist saying in the 1970s that "the personal is political. Politics, unfortunately, has become extremely personal, to the point where it interferes with bipartisan lawmaking after an election. That's bad enough. Lying about it just makes it worse.

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  • Read the U.S. News debate: Has the dishonesty in the 2012 campaign reached unprecedented lows?
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