I speak millions of words a day, a note on honesty

by Rusty Lindquist on January 25, 2011 · 4 comments

Today, CNN reported here that Hillary Clinton says she “misspoke”, when suggesting she came under sniper fire in Bosnia during a foreign policy speech at George Washington University recently.If you’re not familiar with what happened, you can watch the video of it here, but in short she was responding to a question wherein she described landing in Bosnia in 1996 by saying “I remember landing under sniper fire.  There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base”.

But when you watch the actual video of the landing, you see her walking casually out of the plane with her daughter in tow, over to a greeting party where she shook hands with several soldiers and an 8 year old Bosnian girl who gave her a poem.

Interestingly, in response to the whole deal, she said “I say a lot of things – millions of words a day – so if I misspoke, that was just a misstatement.”

First, I’m not sure if she realizes, but to speak even 1 million words in a day you would have to speak 15 words a second for 18 hours straight.  To be “millions”, you would have to at least double that.  I’m also not much comforted by a statement indicating that proportionally speaking, most of what she says should be true.

Still, perhaps I’m splitting hairs.  On the other hand, perhaps we’ve become too acclimated to environments of dishonesty where we try to cover one exaggeration with another one.    Where much is given, much is required.  People in the top echelons of our government are given much authority, and much should be required of them – including honesty.

Honesty seems to succumb to Newton’s first law of motion – mass in motion tends to stay in motion…   Once you start a lie, it seems more naturally follow to support it in a self-perpetuating cycle of dishonesty.

Rusty

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ibarakiss March 26, 2008 at 7:32 AM

I incidentally came upon your blog while surfing on wordpress.com. I really liked your blog and I totally agree with you on Newton’s law of motion. But I think a lot of other emotions also succumb to that law like anger, riots, ….mostly on negative energies. There’s a saying that it takes 3 days to learn to be bad and 3 years to learn to be good. I guess the good people will have to fight really hard to stay good, isn’t it?

I have just started my blog, please feel free to check it out – http://ibarakiss.wordpress.com/

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2 Irving March 26, 2008 at 8:49 AM

A keen observation, and totally accurate. When did the American people come to expect so little from their leaders? Is it the fault of the media for not holding their feet to the fire? Probably, but it is also our fault for not making known that such exaggerations and lies are completely unacceptable and voting the scoundrels out of office, or never voting them in.

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3 Rusty Lindquist March 26, 2008 at 2:29 PM

ibarakiss, thanks for your kind remarks and your wise comments. I do agree, it seems that positive momentum requires more energy to build and sustain than negative momentum. Perhaps it’s because of Entropy (which I mention here: http://rustysblog.com/2008/02/11/spiritual-entropy/).

Irving, I couldn’t have said it better. I think we’ve become accustomed to mediocrity, and now it permeates the highest levels of leadership. How does that happen? Again, I think you hit on something dead accurate – because we let it.

The most remarkable thing about the internet, is that it has removed all barriers, and enabled all people a platform on which to raise their voices and be heard. We can either choose to NOT speak out (in which case we shouldn’t be surprised to see the erosion of values amongst our leaders), or we choose to speak out, and become a voice.

Thanks for speaking out.

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