Saturday, September 13, 2008

a new yardstick?...Thou shalt not bear false witness

Way back in the beginning, both candidates, Obama and McCain pledged themselves to a new kind of politics. McCain said that the American people want and deserve a campaign that is honorable and respectful.
Now might be a good time to assess how well each man has lived up to this admittedly high standard.
I propose the following method. First, let us confine ourselves to statements made by the candidates themselves and ads to which they have affixed their personal approval. We will exclude surrogates for the time being and just try to see whether each man has shown the will and the commitment to personally live up to his promise to the people. The premise here is that the candidate should be held accountable at the very least to his own statements.
I would like to invite McCain supporters to submit material so as to ensure a somewhat comprehensive look at both men. The question at hand is simple and direct. How truthful has each man been?
I would further suggest that this might be a worthwhile yardstick for deciding who to vote for.

McCain's lies:
Exhibit A
Sarah Palin in her very first speech to Americans at the RNC (a speech she presumably had time to fact check before delivering) told the nation that she said to Congress, "Thanks but no thanks. If we want that bridge, we'll build it ourselves."

I don't know what's worse. The fact that she told this lie on her very first chance to present herself to the American public, or the fact that she went on to repeat it several times in subsequent speeches. She finally conceded in her interview with Charlie Gibson that she had supported the bridge (though she euphemistically referred to the bridge as "infrastructure"). Did anybody notice how even as she repackaged her story she still didn't come clean about the original lie? It was as if the press were to blame for inconveniencing her with the facts.

Exhibit B
McCain claimed in a very recent interview on "The View" that his running mate never sought federal funds for state projects. When pressed about Palin's record of requesting and accepting such money for Alaska, McCain ignored the record and said: "Not as governor she didn't."

Umm...yes she did. In fact, while Palin has significantly reduced the state's earmark requests, she asked for nearly $200 million in targeted spending for the 2009 fiscal year.

Not only did McCain lie, but he lied twice, first on the initial question and then on the subsequent follow up. This undermines any possible claim that maybe he just misspoke. What seems clear here is that when McCain is faced with a choice between telling an inconvenient truth and telling a convenient lie, there's really no choice. Lets be clear here. What Palin did as mayor and governor is standard operating procedure all across the's called bringing home the bacon. Nothing wrong with that unless you're trying to paint yourself as a brave new pork reformer.

Exhibit C
McCain bragged in several speeches following the RNC that Palin sold the governor's private jet on Ebay for a profit. "You know what I enjoyed the most? She took the luxury jet that was acquired by her predecessor and sold it on eBay — and made a profit!"

Another lie. While the jet was put on Ebay along with about thirty other items (a practice established in Alaska well before Palin became governor, by the way, though you'd never guess that from the way McCain was presenting her as an innovator and reformer). The jet was never sold on Ebay however. It was sold through a broker for less than the asking price and less than the original price. It must be maddening for McCain to be nitpicked by the truth this way.

Exhibit D
July 27, 2008
"I didn't use the word timetable."
McCain said this in response to Geornge Stephanopoulus
Rewind two days to July 25, 2008
BLITZER: Why do you think [Maliki] said that 16 months is basically a pretty good timetable?

MCCAIN: He said it's a pretty good timetable based on conditions on the ground. I think it's a pretty good timetable.

Look, I don't blame people for sometimes being careless with words but this is a case of McCain lying not being careless. Here's why. In a January 30 debate with Mitt Romney, McCain castigated his opponent for using the word "timetable". "Timetables was the buzzword for those that wanted to get out," he scoffed. He laid down the bar himself and used it to hammer his opponents. What's really disingenuous here is that McCain doesn't really oppose the concept of timetables he just wants to make the word off limits and radioactive to whoever utters it.
Until of course he says it himself. Notice how when that happens, and he's called on it in public, his first reaction is to deny it. In essence he calls Stephanopoulus a liar. This is what is what people who have become addicted to lying do. They don't recant, they double down.

Exhibit E
August 20, 2008
McCain responds to Obama's declaration that he will not let anyone question his love of country.
Let me be clear: I am not questioning his patriotism; I am questioning his judgment.
The words "Let me be clear. " Is this some kind of plea to us or a prayer to God to grant him the gift of lucidity or his asking us only to take his words seriously when he prefaces them with the phrase, "let me clear"?
Here's what McCain said (on more than one occasion if I'm not mistaken).
Apparently Sen. Obama, who does not understand what’s happening in Iraq or fails to acknowledge the success in Iraq, would rather lose a war than lose a campaign.
How can someone rather lose a war than a campaign and still be called a patriot? It's simple; they can't. McCain knows exactly what he's suggesting here. Whether he actually believes it or not is immaterial. He knows how it will land in the ears of certain voters.

Exhibit F
In McCain's "lipstick ad" he accuses Obama of sexist comments against Palin. Today in an interview on "The View", when given a chance to step back from the ad, McCain insists "they aren't lies." He is then reminded that he himself used the selfsame lipstick phrase only a few months ago and he says, "Yes but I was referring to Senator Clinton's health care plan."

Even classier. Here's what Obama said. You be the judge.
OBAMA: Let's just list this for a second. John McCain says he's about change, too. Except -- and so I guess his whole angle is, "Watch out, George Bush, except for economic policy, health-care policy, tax policy, education policy, foreign policy, and Karl Rove-style politics. We're really gonna shake things up in Washington." That's not change. That's just calling some -- the same thing, something different. But you know, you can -- you know, you can put lipstick on a pig; it's still a pig.
Incredible. McCain either doesn't cares what the truth is or is it that he just can't help lying. Wasn't it McCain who accused Obama's campaign of playing the race card? I guess it's Obama's fault then that McCain stooped so low as to play the gender card. In his interview on "The View" McCain persisted in his claim about Obama by saying, "Obama chooses his words very carefully." This is an interesting angle since it implies that McCain by contrast chooses his words casually and should be forgiven for his sometimes imprecise formulations (lies). Notice again how McCain is perfecting the double standard, hold everyone else accountable for their words, and then plead for understanding when your own words are quoted back to you.

Exhibit G
In a recent ad McCain asserts that Obama's "one accomplishment" as a legislator in Illinois was to create legislation that would teach kindergartners sex before teaching them to read.

It's hard to know where to begin with this one except to point out that it marks a new low in sleaziness. To quote McCain a few years ago when he wagged his finger at Gov. Bush during a debate in South Carolina, "You should be ashamed." Tug on any word or phrase and the thing unravels before your eyes. Go to and see for yourself. Lets remember too that this is the same campaign that has railed against the lack of respect and deference shown toward their candidates and surrogates. Classy.

Exhibit H
McCain just launched a thirty second ad aimed at Hispanic voters. Here's the text.
"The press reports that their efforts were 'poison pills' that made immigration reform fail," the ad charges. "The result: No guest worker program. No path to citizenship. No secure borders. No reform. Is that being on our side? Obama and his congressional allies ready to block immigration reform, but not ready to lead."
What's wrong: Media accounts cited two votes as effectively killing immigration reform last year — and Obama was on the same side as McCain in both. Click on the link read a fuller account of this.

To sum up: lies big and small constitute a pattern of deceit that directly contradicts the "straight talk" that McCain has promised us. Truthfulness is something that matters to me as a voter. Why not apply the commandment "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor" as a yardstick? I want our next president to be in the habit of telling the truth, to be committed to telling it. This is, in my opinion, a major character issue in this campaign. If I judge this wrongly, I await new information.


Blogger Snave said...

There really is no end to the double-standards.

I find it shameful that the only place I have seen these pointed up very often on television is on Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show" on the Comedy Central channel.

If the major networks' nightly news programs each ran a story about a McCain double standard and did it EVERY night, there would not be enough days left between now and the election to cover all of them.

You make some great observations here, which should lead any voter, intelligent or otherwise, to not that the Straight Talk Express was derailed long ago... like maybe about the time McCain decided he wanted to be POTUSA.

12:44 PM  

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