“Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”
Lies, Truths and Politics
In the portico of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome, you can find the Roman statue I have chosen today to open my post. It is the “Bocca della Verità”, which in English means the “Mouth of Truth”. It is an ancient stone mask from the Classical period that represents a river god with an open mouth, wide eyes and a flowing mane of hair. It is so famous because of a rather macabre legend associated with the mask since ancient times. If a liar puts their hand inside its mouth, they will lose it. My father told me this legend when I was 6. He sounded so serious and convincing that I still remember how petrified I was to put my little hand in. Once I did it and after seeing my hand was still attached to my arm my father smiled victorious. More than 30 years on and I haven’t forgotten about it. As memorable as one of the scenes in Roman holiday when Gregory Peck, in front of a terrified Audrey Hepburn, daringly challenges the mask by putting his hand inside its mouth. One of my favourite scenes from classic Hollywood ever.
I was thinking about this the other day after listening to conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg openly admit he was against abortion in all cases, including rape. For a moment there I thought I was back in Spain, where this sort of speech is still quite usual from the very catholic right but coming from of a politician of this country I found the admission a massive step backwards from the kind of society I believe we are today. Of course everyone can have an opinion, a creed and a God, whoever this God is. My conflict on this matter is the fact that Rees-Mogg was praised for his honesty. Finally a politician who is not scared to speak about his real beliefs. Should we really praise him for being honest? I wonder how any woman who voted for him to be elected will be happy to hear his honest truth. If that was me I will be fuming, religion should be left on the private side of life. Of course your beliefs are going to affect the way you see and deal with the world but nevertheless to interfere in matters set already by law just because your spiritual life says so it is a big no from me.
If good old Jacob was just being honest, what about Boris Johnson and his lies? His article for the Telegraph was a nasty piece of work. It does undermine Theresa May, his “boss” in every possible way and what’s worse, it is with impeccable timing, days before the PM has to do her speech in Florence in front of all the EU leaders. Boris still keeps going on about the £350m weekly saving to go to the NHS, that lie that Farage used so well during the Brexit referendum. A lie to justify his “extra” hard Brexit with no transitional period and no intent at all to seal a deal with the EU. One suspects that his lies are motivated to take over from May in the future. I wouldn’t be surprised if he resigns after the Florence speech where Ms May is expected to soften the tone to unblock the negotiations with the EU. A lie to make him the hard Brexit candidate battling for control of the Conservative party at their conference in a few weeks. If I have ever found him amusing I regret it now. This is dirty sneaky politics to the highest level.
So to this Friday then, the PM will try to resuscitate the Brexit negotiations. I admit, the truth needs to come out of the European Union as well. In order to make any progress in the negotiations they need to admit that Brexit will damage economically (and socially) the Union. Such bravado from Juncker about regrets and self-inflicted damage is unnecessary and dishonest. The EU doesn’t have money growing on trees and with the UK leaving you do not have to be smart to figure out how difficult it will be for Brussels to sort out a realistic budget. I suspect, If we made all of them queue for the Mouth of the Truth they will all lose their hand. Politics made up on lies, All but Jacob. Hasta luego amigos.