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Wednesday, 30 January 2008 00:00

Tis the season of politics and lies

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The truth is that, at the state level, no one is giving Pat Smathers a chance to win in his bid for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor. The Canton mayor and attorney is trying to run a statewide race with low-budget campaign, and so the odds are stacked against him.

But stranger things have happened. And after the first debate among the Democratic hopefuls — which was Jan. 19 in Asheville — at least one observer called Smathers the winner. “From where I was sitting, local boy Pat Smathers won the first debate,” political blogger Gordon Smith wrote on BlueNC, a Web site that follows statewide Democratic politics. “Without pretense, attack, or obfuscation, Smathers laid out a vision for leadership that empowers local leaders to solve problems at the local level through proper support from Raleigh.”

Smathers message of using the state’s fiscal muscle to empower local government has a populist appeal that should play well in communities throughout the state. This one will at least be fun to watch over the next few months.

•••

From the Charlotte Observer — “A report from the nonprofit, nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity says President Bush and seven of his administration’s top officials made at least 935 false statements about national security in the two years following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Among those fudging the truth were Vice President Dick Cheney and these people in their roles at the time — National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and White House press secretary Ari Fleischer.

“Mr. Bush topped the list with 260 false statements. Mr. Powell was next with 254. Mr. Rumsfeld and Mr. Fleischer each made 109. Mr. Wolfowitz made 85, Ms. Rice 56 and Mr. Cheney 48.

“The center, an award-winning investigative group, examined a massive database of public statements and factual information from books, research articles, government reports and other information. Because there were dramatic spikes in false information at strategic times — when Congress considered a war resolution, the mid-term elections and from January 2003 to the eve of the Iraq invasion, for instance — the report concludes that much of the false information wasn’t benign and unintended but calculated and orchestrated to sway public opinion.”

A truth worth telling in the days after Bush’s last State of the Union.

•••

Favorite quote in last week’s paper: “We don’t want to be art snobs.”

That was dentist and Waynesville Public Art Commission Chairman Mike Gillespie, discussing how the group has wrestled with finding the right type of project to choose as Waynesville’s first piece of public art. The artist to create the piece will be chosen this spring.

And I’ll give a supportive “amen” to Gillespie’s feelings about art snobs. Here’s hoping this committee can do the impossible — pick something that everyone likes.

(Scott McLeod can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .)

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