The UK Times reports that Emmanuel Macron, a candidate for president of the French Republic, has filed a complaint with the police that his rival, the National Front’s Marine #Le Pen, has smeared him by implying that he may be a puppet of the Kremlin. One can imagine that President Donald Trump, who has been accused of being in the pocket of #Vladimir Putin and worse, is wondering why he can’t get back at his enemies in a similar way.

In American politics, one can pretty much say anything about a political rival and get away with it. There is a story about Lyndon Johnson, the American president for much of the 1960s, who was in a tough race and suggested to his staff that they should accuse his opponents of having unlawful knowledge of farm animals.

Advertisements
Advertisements

When told that was an outrageous idea, LBJ replied, “I know. But I just want to hear him deny it.”

Having a French system in which lying about a political opponent could be considered a crime would upend how American politics has been waged for 240 or more years. One can understand why Trump is interested in altering libel laws in the #United States. Who would not want to bring Stephen Colbert to the dock for suggesting that the president was having a sexual relationship with Vladimir Putin? Indeed, if being an unfunny comedian were a crime, Colbert would be in for a life sentence. And that does not even consider what Putin would do if “The Late Show” host lived in Russia.

On the other hand, under the apparent French system, Rafael Cruz, the father of Sen. Ted Cruz, could file a complaint against President Trump for claiming he had been involved in the JFK assassination.

Advertisements

Former President Barack Obama could also take POTUS to court for suggesting that he was born in Kenya and not Hawaii. Trump’s tendency to bluster and outrageousness would come back to haunt him as any number of people whom he has insulted descend upon him.

The potential for lawfare would be endless. Republicans could sue Democrats for claiming that they want to starve children and kill old people. Democrats could sue Republicans for claiming that they’re socialists. The American people could go after Obama for arguing that they’re bitter clingers and Hillary Clinton for calling them “deplorables.”

So, just as many things that are practiced in Europe such as government-run health care, the system in which politicians can be sanctioned for lying just will not work in the United States. The system of when someone lies about you lie right back as worked so far and should not be messed with.