Our attempts to impress others do not always come off, and so it is with politicians.
Like most of us, politicians want to express the traits of sociability; networked (power), well liked (empathetic), and morally decent (trustworthy).
To achieve that, we all go a little bit far at times. For example, we talk to people we don’t like if we think others like them. We boast and embellish. But we do it only within our own sense of what is plausible. The most important thing to our egos is self respect. We boast too much, and we don’t even like ourselves.
Too many politicians think they have to do this all the time, to create a constant illusion of confidence and success.
Take a look at this example. After a bitter Presidential nomination battle, Mitt Romney says he’s “friends” with losing candidate Newt Gingrich.
The claim was ridiculous. No friends would treat each other that way.
What motivated Romney to make that claim? He wanted to appear morally decent and well liked, so he used a white lie.
Being authentic is what we value most in other people, especially friends. Romney was not being authentic.
Romney could have been honest and still demonstrated those important traits. He could have said “It was a tough battle, and we have great differences – but I still wish him well”.
He would lose nothing and gain some respect for honesty. It’s certainly a lot better than using a white lie so transparent that he surely must lose his self-respect, as well as ours.