The Brazen Word

Deceit, half-truths, and lies are the vernacular in the language of political nonsense.

Mark Twain once said that “A man’s private thought can never be a lie, what he thinks, is to him the truth, always.” Fernando Ferrer must have read this before.

When the New York City Democratic mayoral candidate makes seemingly shallow vows to help his constituents in the fights for tax relief, low-income housing, and education funding, he digs a ditch of a contradicting platform.

When he flat out lies, rather, is caught in a blatant lie about something so trivial as what schools he attended as a child, Ferrer extinguishes any chances of defeating the heavily-favored incumbent, Republican mayor Michael Bloomberg.

On a Sept. 6 blog entry at Ferrer’s official website, www.ferrer2005.com, he erroneously stated, "I was born in the South Bronx and educated in public schools for most of my education." After a little dirt-digging by Bloomberg’s camp, it was made evident to all that Ferrer never attended public school throughout his years as a city native, but instead frequented a trio of metropolitan parochial schools from kindergarten to grade 12.

According to the Daily News, while the entry claimed to be "posted by Fernando Ferrer," his campaign officials pinned the blame on an "editing error" by an unidentified staffer.

Passing the buck here equates to two possibilities: either the staff member that falsely wrote that Ferrer had attended public schools decided that, despite risking his or her job, he or she would go out on the limb and flat out lie about their boss’ past, or, Ferrer and his political cronies reasoned that no one would check up on this and a little white lie about schooling could only help his chances in the election. Both are outrageous and unbelievable, though the latter seems more fathomable, especially considering that the Ferrer campaign both refused to identify the mystery staffer and denied the release of the alleged first draft that Ferrer claims to have written himself. "I guess you’re going to have to believe that," Ferrer spokeswoman Christy Setzer said.

Assuming the truth from a politician, let alone one who was just undone as a liar, is far from reasonable. But then again, so is lying about what elementary school you attended.

This may not be a substantial enough issue to base a vote around, but the mere stupidity and na√ÉØvety coming out of this story is astounding and simply laughable.

Such a blatantly fabricated story leaves too much room for grave embarrassment (if you have seen those pictures of little Ferrer in his Catholic school uniform, you’ll understand). It is the inverted, Democratic, and a far less serious, reincarnation of former United States Republican President Richard Nixon’s Watergate. Nixon’s superfluous efforts to assure reelection in the 1972 landslide eventually led to his resignation from the White House. Ferrer’s case is the complete opposite; he cost himself serious traction in an already uphill battle. Ferrer’s lie is equally astonishing in his heir of invincibility and irrationality.

Granted, if this Ferrerical fabrication (from now on, let “Ferrerical” be in the likeness of Fernando) were an isolated incident, it would be a little pretentious to label him a liar. However, in an August 16 primary debate, Ferrer explained that his daughter had “graduate[d] from (New York City) public schools.” But alas, his daughter Carlina did not graduate from a public school, though she did attend one through the eighth grade. She instead graduated from the same high school as her father did, Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx.

So yes, it is appropriate to label Ferrer as a mendacious politician, though that would be redundant.

What is a politician to do when caught in a lie? Let’s take a page from “Slick Willy,” former Democratic President Bill Clinton. He managed to question what the meaning of “is” is in front of the grand jury, one of the most arrogant moves in U.S. political history. When asked about his alleged affair with Monica Lewinsky, he actually said, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is-if ‘is’ means is and never has been, that is not- that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement….Now, if someone had asked me on that day, are you having any kind of sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky, that is, asked me a question in the present tense, I would have said no. And it would have been completely true."

Wow.

Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, and it shows here more than ever. This is the type of existential, deconstructive, post-modern dissection of the English language that would make literary theorists like Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucalt, Mikhail Bakhtin, and the rest very proud (please excuse the snooty European name dropping).

Why couldn’t Ferrer pull off something like this? If Clinton were his chief adviser, who knows what kind of brilliance would have followed such a mess. He could have backed out of his education lie with an intellectual inquiry into the meaning of “public school,” for are not all schools essentially public? Are private schools not made in the presence of the “public?” It’s a stretch, but hey, Clinton almost pulled it off, sort of.

Politics is a compromising industry; it lends itself to lies and concealments of the truth. To make matters worse, Bill Cunningham, a senior Bloomberg campaign adviser, stated, “Only one candidate for mayor this year went to public schools, and that’s Mike Bloomberg.”

Strangely enough, Cunningham had his tongue sticking out and his thumbs to his ears when he said this.

Since when is attending a public school a right to passage in politics? To say that someone cannot make rational judgments on public education just because they did not attend a public school is ludicrous. U.S. Presidents, many of which have no military experience, are thrown into the position of Commander in Chief of the military just like out of shape sportscasters are respected for their sports commentary.

All in all, who cares about this political mud slinging? I sure don’t.