March 13, 1998

AVisit to the White House

I speak truth, not so much as I would, but as much as I dare; and I dare a little more as I grow older.


Place and time: A sitting room in the White House at 3:00pm.

Characters: The President of the United States and Siegfried Fuchs, M.D.

Pres.: Thanks for coming, doctor. (Motions to a chair)

Dr.:What can I do for you, Mr. President.

Pres.: The reason that I asked you to come here is that if it were known that I went to a psychiatrist, it might mean the end of my political career. That a psychiatrist comes to see me is okay because I could always say that it was a social call. Besides, you can't be forced to testify about what we discuss. Am I correct in assuming that to be true?

Dr.: Quite correct. Anything that we discuss is privileged and I am not at liberty to divulge it to anyone under any circumstances, unless a major crime is involved. I also assure you that I will not even divulge it after your death.

Pres.: Thank you doctor; my colleagues assured me that you were completely trustworthy.

Dr.:(Looking at his watch) I should tell you that our sessions will have to be limited to 50 minutes since I have other patients. Now, what is it that you wish to discuss?

Pres.: I want to talk about "lying." Some people think that many of my statements are lies. I would like very much to have people believe what I say.

Dr.: That's a simple problem to deal with. All that you have to do is tell the truth all of the time and you will be believed.

Pres.: It's not that simple. I'm a politician and if I told the truth all of the time, it would get me into a hellofalot more trouble than lying ever did. Lying and politics go together. That stuff about George Washington never telling a lie was dreamed up by his press agent, or whatever they had in those days.

Dr.: I don't understand what you think that I can do for you.

Pres.: For one thing, you can help me to understand why I lie when I know that it's the wrong thing to do. Maybe if I understood why I do it, I might be able to deal with it better.

Dr.: When you were a child, did you think that it was wrong to lie?

Pres.: I was told, over and over again, that it was wrong to lie, but everyone I knew did it all the time. I would have had to be a fool to believe that it was wrong when everybody did it all the time. If I really believed that lying was wrong, then everyone I knew, including my parents, were unregenerate sinners.

Dr.: Your parents lied to you?

Pres.: Sure, and some of those lies were pretty flagrant.

Dr.: Such as?

Pres.: Santa Claus was a flat out lie and I had to find out for myself that there was no such thing as Santa Claus, except for some guy who dressed up in a red suit at Christmas time and told more lies to kids at the department store. The presents came from my folks and they put the presents under the tree. I was a pretty bright kid, so I figured out that grownups lie to kids all the time. So how could it be wrong? When I lied when I was a kid, I tried not to get caught at it; and I was pretty good at that. I found out that it was very bad to get caught lying, but that lying itself was okay. I just tried to make sure that I didn't get caught. I knew a kid back home who couldn't tell a lie to save his ass. He had a hell of a time; got into more trouble telling the truth than I ever did by lying. By the time I was a teen ager, I could honey any broad into the sack any time I wanted to.

Dr.: You mean that being a good liar meant sexual success for you?

Pres.: Exactly; but at the same time, I didn't have a friend who I could believe or who would believe me.

Dr.: It stands to reason that they wouldn't trust you if you lied all the time. How else were you encouraged to lie as a child?

Pres.: I was taught to say "Glad to have met you," even though I was not only not glad, but was positively repelled by some people. Of course, this politeness has always stood me in good stead in politics.

Dr.: So now lying has become an ingrained part of who you are.

Pres.: That's right. Without that ingrained ability to lie, I wouldn't be where I am today.

Dr.: Then you think that lying is the key to your success?

Pres.: One of them.

Dr.: I gather from what you said that you have no particular desire to change your behavior with regard to lying.

Pres.: None at all (reaching into his wallet and handing the doctor some money) I want to thank you for your time. I feel better already. I have always wanted to tell someone what I have told you, but there was no one whom I could trust. Even if you couldn't do anything for me, I can assure you that confession is good for the soul and I am very grateful to you for listening.

Dr.:(smiling) Glad to be able to help. If you feel the need for another confession, please call me. I am sorry that I can't offer you absolution, but that's not my business.

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