“To speak with forked tongue” appropriately, on one account of its origins, goes back to 1699, to the French army in America, which invited the Iroquois Indians to attend a peace conference, only to have the French end up treacherously butchering all the attending Iroquois. Thenceforth, for Indians, to speak with “forked tongue” meant to lie—specifically, the idea that the white man lies and so cannot be trusted.
This unspeakable act of treachery by the French, in dealing with the Indian, has been all too common throughout our history. In the early years of our Republic, we would announce our peaceful intentions towards the Indians, and sign a peace treaty with them; but when the treaty became too inconvenient to honor—when gold or silver was found on Indian land, or land was needed for homesteading, or cattle-raising, or for the coming railroads, et. al.—then the white man would summarily break his “solemn oath” by breaking the treaty…until, that is, he needed a new treaty, and then his oath was “as good as gold.”
Enter our latest expert in the high devilish art of “speaking with forked tongue,” the right-wing extremist from Texas, Ted Cruz (though as far as speaking with “forked tongue” goes, any Tea Party politician more than qualifies, so little is Truth honored among these “very honorable” men and women).
A day watching Cruz is a lesson in this fine art of forked-tongue speaking: or what historically is called “sophistry”—defined as when someone attempts to persuade with half-truths or complete falsehoods. Cruz is against Obamacare because, he says emphatically, “it’s costing people’s jobs and is taking away their healthcare.” But this is pure sophistry! Cruz cites not a single shred of evidence to back up his argument—because he can’t. And he knows it, too. There is no evidence whatsoever that jobs have been or will be lost due to Obamacare. And far from taking away people’s health care, millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions will now be covered—and that is both humane and good. And millions more will be insured for the first time. Again, that is both humane and good.
I suspect that Cruz is against Obamacare in part because big, for-profit insurers will now lose out, as they should—both on account of their amoral behavior (see Michael Moore’s Sicko documentary, which will make you ill to see how our insurance companies let people suffer and die so that they could make more profit)—and because, on principle, health care should be government-financed and thus not subject to the whims and machinations of profit-taking. It is not just absurd, it is criminal that for-profit private insurers should themselves have the power of life and death over our citizens rather than their physician. Health care before Obamacare truly was Kafkaesque.
If Ted Cruz, presidential aspirant, speaks with “forked tongue” now, when only a member of the House, imagine what would transpire if he were to become president. Without a shadow of a doubt, we’d witness (“Tricky Dick”) Richard Nixon redivivus—and yet another addition to the Dark Ages of conservative Republican governance.