Robert Manne wrote an opinion piece in the Herald today, When lies can be quite honourable. Although it makes no direct reference to it, Manne’s article seems to revolve around the ALP‘s Truth Overboard: 27 Lies pamphlet.
First, Manne draws the distinction between a broken promise and a lie. The majority of the 27 lies counted by Labor are not lies, but broken promises. Manne argues that broken promises are a fact of political life, and with three terms under their belt, any government would leave a good trail of them. I don’t think the Liberals have been particularly bad in this respect.
To my mind, the highlight of the article is Manne’s novel explanation for the way John Howard presented dodgy weapons of mass destruction intelligence as truth:
On September 11, 2001 Howard pledged an oath of fealty to the US. From that moment, in the prosecution of the war on terrorism, he was willing to believe whatever it was the Americans happened to believe. He had willingly suspended his capacity for disbelief.
Manne seems to be pleading some kind of temporary insanity on Howard’s behalf. For the entire three year term, John Howard has put the US need for retribution ahead of Australia’s integrity. It’s a bizzare scenario, but the kindest explanation that I’ve seen for his deceptive conduct.
Manne also tackles the children overboard fiasco, and considers the proposition that this might have been an “honourable” lie. Definitely worth a read.