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By Columnist - TRB - The presidential debates have become a lie-fest of sorts, with each candidate trying to outdo the other, promising more, denying the truth, or just plain making things up that sound good. I have been watching them since the early '60s when Jack Kennedy's Hyannisport tan beat Dick Nixon's attempts to balance sweat on his pasty white upper lip. And I will be watching them next week when crash-test dummy Romney goes after Obama and tries his best to get the name of his tailor before it is too late.

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The ritual of lies called the presidential debate is actually quite sickening. In a way, it is almost like you are playing a big goof on yourself, almost like, if you had a friend who could not tell the truth but you decided to sit around for hours anyway and listen to him as he told you lie after lie. You, of course, would not do that, especially when the lies are so pedestrian and inside-the-beltwayish. I enjoy the bold entertaining lie, the one that causes people to lose their place reading or to drop their food on the floor - not some stupid balderdash about the growth of the GDP that some faceless person scratched on the wall of a toilet booth in some restroom in the Capitol building.

Of course lying is not really lying anymore, since the U.S. news media decided to stop calling it that, so you have to listen to these "misrepresentations of fact" and wonder where they got them, knowing full well that everything they have said during the debate will be "fact-checked" by some unlucky reporter who has as "research" entire books of government lies to check the debate lies against. The manufacturing of untruths has become so important in Washington that they will no longer hire you for government service there unless you can convince them of a Big One or produce a resume that could easily be converted into a screenplay for a sucessful Hollywood film production.

All the players in the Presidential Sweepstakes know this game, they know it is about the Big Lie. If you can't tell it with a straight face, you can't be President. If you can't tell it using the same non-facts everytime - so you don't get tripped up - you can't be President. There are even some who will argue that a good liar is really the perfect President, since he or she has to dish out a whole series of conflicting facts to world leaders on a daily basis - just to stay in business.

The ability to lie convincingly might as well be in the job description.

So you know the debates are just a tidal wave of lies. You sit there and they wash over you. You are immersed in make believe. Oh, they are so good - better than any con artist you will ever meet. Making them even better are the fractured figures they possess, the phony deadlines and invisible deficits and profits that will never materialize - all of it hogwash, all of it given to them by government workers, who manufactured them for the boss of their department who was under some political deadline to come up with the right figure at the right time to accomplish the right political objective.

Today, we watch these debates not for the facts. There are not any facts. We watch the theater. Are the candiates dressed well? Is one dressed better than the other? Does one seem to keep his head screwed on right, while the other has his head in a jar on the podium? That's always a bad sign.

It is only a dog and pony show today. Usually, the candidate who keeps this in mind - wins. It's a TV show and you want to be the sympathetic character, the one to whom people can relate. Don't make a lot of faces when your opponent is speaking. Don't smirk. Just stand there and take it all in, all of those lies. Then when the other candidate has constructed a totally fictional, but reasonable-sounding argument, slowly clear your throat, look off into the distance and in a soft, but well modulated voice use an even better counter-lie to destroy your opponent. Once and for all.      



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