I do not think the President of the United States should be a liar, and believe that the overwhelming majority of U.S. citizens agree with me. For security reasons, the whole truth cannot always be revealed, but it is quite obvious that lies are seldom made to protect our nation. Almost invariably, the political fortunes of the prevaricator are at stake.
During my campaign for the White House in 1976, veracity was a very important issue, because of the known falsehoods having been told during the Vietnam War and the revelations of the Frank Church senatorial investigation that our government had, through the CIA, committed murder and other crimes. I habitually told my small groups of supporters, “If I even make a misleading statement, don’t support me.”
Although stigmatized as naïve and often having to suffer the consequences, I maintained this commitment to truthfulness during my term in office, and it paid off in many ways. One example was the trust aroused in me by President Anwar Sadat and Prime Minister Menachim Begin, which was instrumental in orchestrating the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. I’ve observed at other times that the exploding consequences of a small lie can result in political catastrophe, as was shown in President Nixon’s effort to conceal the Watergate break-in.
There have been other examples since I left office.
The author was the 39th President of the United States.