DeVos Caught Lying

Hardly a surprise, but still pretty funny. He claimed that his high school football coach started him at quarterback because of his leadership skills. His coach says, "I did?"

DeVos recounts a conversation he had with then-head varsity football coach Frank Rosengren: "He and I took a walk right behind this building (the old gym). It was a warm day and I remember he told me, 'Dick, I am going to start you because you have leadership skills and the team responds to your leadership.' "

DeVos went on to say: "That was a great encouragement to me. Those words were very important to me. Someone I respected affirmed that skill as I was a young person, and I will remember it the rest of my life."

Rosengren, 69, is now retired and living in Elk Rapids. He said the conversation never took place. He never walked with DeVos behind the gym for the coach-athlete heart-to-heart, Rosengren said, and he's certain DeVos never started as a quarterback in a varsity football game.

And you're gonna love the response from the DeVos campaign:

"It wouldn't surprise me if a Democrat was trying to create some revisionist history," said DeVos spokesman John Truscott. DeVos is a "decent, honorable person who's been subjected to some of the nastiest stuff I've seen in my career," Truscott added. "I'm sure the MEA (Michigan Education Association) bosses came down on this guy and told him to say this."

Yes, I'm sure that's exactly what happened. The coach's reply is rather telling:

"I don't even know who the MEA bosses are," said Rosengren, who left the Forest Hills system in 1985 and eventually became a school principal. "I ended up being a school administrator in Michigan (and Wisconsin). I was on the other side of the bargaining table, for God's sake."

Rosengren said he remembered the young DeVos as a "good kid" and "polite," though clearly not a star on the field. "He didn't do those things, and the scene he describes never took place."

What a shock.

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He's going to regret this. Mainly he's going to regret not getting caught lying years ago, when he could have proven to Bush, Rove et al that he deserved to have been tapped for a higher - status Republican position, where his lying abilities would have been put to a much wider use. Now, I am very much afraid for him that his "colorful truth characterizations" will fall on deaf, uncaring ears.
Oh, the humanity!

DeVos has yet to learn one of the rules of politics: stick to vague, unverifiable lies. If you're going to lie about your past, make sure the people involved are either dead or paid off.

Fastlane asked:

Ummm..who's DeVos?

Michigan gubernatorial candidate running on the Republican ticket. Also the son of Amway founder Richard DeVos, who he later succeeded as president of Amway.

I wouldn't be so quick to assume DeVos was "lying." After reading books like Elizabeth Loftus' "Eyewitness Testimony" I'm much more skeptical about the reliability of memory. It's very easy to confabulate and reconstruct memories, particularly from our childhood, particularly if they are pleasing or exciting. And the process can be --and usually is -- completely unconscious.

It's possible that the scene DeVos recounts happened to him elsewhere, or to someone else, or was a private fantasy which over the years translated itself into a memory. It's the vague sort of plausible sounding stereotype story which easily lends itself to constructed memory (as opposed to specific claims like "I was a battle sargent in Viet Nam" made by someone who was never even in the army, which is a lot harder to be mistaken about.)

So even though, yes, he's a politician trying to sell himself (and a Republican to boot), I'd still give him the benefit of the doubt. It's probably not a deliberate lie.

Sastra - Wha???!!! Read back what you just typed, then hang up on yourself. What you wrote is not defenseble. I don't care if Elizabeth Loftus has a book all to herself in the New King James Version of the Bible, lying is not teling the truth, and BS is BS. Tell Rove and your Rethuglican Masters that you tried to spin it, but the rubes just ain't buying today.

I wouldn't be so quick to assume DeVos was "lying." After reading books like Elizabeth Loftus' "Eyewitness Testimony" I'm much more skeptical about the reliability of memory. It's very easy to confabulate and reconstruct memories, particularly from our childhood, particularly if they are pleasing or exciting. And the process can be --and usually is -- completely unconscious.

Are you serious??? He claimed he was the starting quarterback on the varsity football team - the coach says he wasn't. I can't imagine anyone reconstructing a memory so false. "Hm, was I the varsity quarterback or not? Can't seem to remember clearly..."

Having a fuzzy memory about a conversation with the coach, I can understand. A fuzzy memory about being the starting quarterback? I don't think so.

I'm sure old high school year books are kept on file at the school or even online. It shouldn't be to hard to check his story.

Actually, local papers would probably have box scores of high school football games in their archives.

The article indicates that he might have started one game. There is no record of who played in the newspaper reports from that game, but the father of another player thinks his son was benched for a game for not working hard enough and that DeVos started over him that game. That doesn't make this fantasy of the coach making him the starting QB because of his great leadership skills any more true.

One of the more hilarious bits to come out of the Michigan campaign, for sure. If you want the real kicker here, the game he claims to have started they lost miserably and the QB completed ONE pass the entire game. Maybe he should do more research before making up stories--he could at least try to make himself look like he was a half-competent quarterback if he's going to lie.

Yes, this fits into the "leadership" section of his resume nicely. Right next to the State Board of Education, left 2 years into an 8 year term while missing more meetings than any other member and missing most of the meetings of the Board of Control at Grand Valley State University. What a born leader.

I truly hope the polls are correct and Governor Granholm send him back to one of his many homes with a 10 point defeat. Everyone get out and vote.

"Ummm..who's DeVos?"

Also tied to Focus on the Phallus (seed money) and to Blackwater Security (in Iraq, and Katrina battered N.O.) via marriage to the Prince family.

I can't imagine anyone reconstructing a memory so false.

Apparently you don't remember the Satanic Ritual Abuse stories floating around ten to twenty years ago. There are adults today who are convinced their parents tortured them and ritually sacrificed their siblings. It doesn't seem all that unlikely to me that memories are constructed, not recalled.

By Shawn Smith (not verified) on 03 Nov 2006 #permalink

I didn't say or imply that DeVos was right, and telling the truth. But yes I can indeed imagine someone constructing or reconstructing a memory of that conversation, or even of having been "starting quarterback" (especially if Ed's correct, and he did happen to start for one game). Given so many sources in psych and skeptic lit emphasizing how easy it is for otherwise average, normal people to become convinced that they commited crimes they did not commit, were abducted by aliens, or were raped by their parents in Satanic cults, a relatively benign confabulated memory of a coach telling someone "I'm going to start you because of your leadership skills" isn't much of a leap. DeVos has probably had his leadership skills praised his whole life. Our recollections often get confused, over time.

I don't care if the guy is Republican or not. Yes, it might very well be a deliberate lie designed to make a good story for the campaign. But I'd be more cautious before insisting that this is what it MUST have been. Fooling other people is easy, but it's also easy to fool oneself.

Anyone psychotic enough to reconstruct a 'starting qb fantasy' as a memory replete with heartwarming leadership talk with the head coach should have no place in politics.

Sastra has a point. The coach has little emotional investment in the narrative, so his memories are less likely to be distorted. DeVos has a lot of investment, so his memories are suspect.

Over the years I have learned to my distress that my own memories are unreliable.

Sastra has a point. The coach has little emotional investment in the narrative, so his memories are less likely to be distorted. DeVos has a lot of investment, so his memories are suspect.

Over the years I have learned to my distress that my own memories are unreliable.

"Anyone psychotic enough to reconstruct a 'starting qb fantasy' as a memory replete with heartwarming leadership talk with the head coach should have no place in politics."

That would probably disqualify 90% of the population. The only reason we are all convinced our memories are accurate is because they are very rarely challenged. Try comparing memories of an event 20 years or so ago with someone else who was there. You'll probably be amazed at how contradictory your two separate accounts are.

Apparently you don't remember the Satanic Ritual Abuse stories floating around ten to twenty years ago. There are adults today who are convinced their parents tortured them and ritually sacrificed their siblings. It doesn't seem all that unlikely to me that memories are constructed, not recalled.

I can't remember something I've never heard of.