LYING IN POLITICS

McCain and Palin Are Trying to Take Political Lying to the Next Dimension
By Robert Parry, Consortium News. Posted September 15, 2008.

McCain and Palin reach a new level of campaign dishonesty as they tell lies about their records and their opponent. But will they pay a price?

{Here from Alternet: Other Alternet info. below article by Robert Parry.}

Despite all the chatter about how “historic” Campaign 2008 has been, it is the McCain-Palin ticket that it is truly testing the limits, not of race or gender politics, but whether the United States is ready to enter into a new dimension of political lying.

Until two weeks ago, it would have been hard to believe that any political figure would have had the audacity to step into the national spotlight by telling the bald-faced lies that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has. Yet, many Americans have embraced her enthusiastically and don’t want to hear anything negative about her.

Palin’s most obvious lie is one that she has repeated over and over: “I told Congress, ‘thanks but no thanks’ about that Bridge to Nowhere.” Now, however, anyone who has bothered to fact-check this claim knows that Palin supported the bridge until Congress removed the earmark and then she kept the money to use on other state projects.

Palin also presents herself as a “reformer” who can’t stand earmarks or the lobbyists who arrange such wasteful pork-barrel spending — except that she hired Alaska’s top Washington lobbyists to secure millions of dollars in earmarks for her town, Wasilla, and for her state, including sending off a wish list of nearly $200 million just this year.

With the help of the lobbying firm and her annual treks to Washington, Palin secured a stunning $27 million in earmarked funds for Wasilla, a town then with about 6,000 residents. Some of Palin’s projects were considered such prime examples of Washington pork that they were cited in anti-earmark reports compiled by none other than Sen. John McCain earlier this decade.

When ABC’s news anchor Charles Gibson asked Palin about her past support of earmarks and her backing for the Bridge to Nowhere, Palin simply refused to acknowledge that she had made misleading or false claims about herself.

“It has always been an embarrassment that abuses of the ear form — earmark process has been accepted in Congress,” Palin said. “And that’s what John McCain has fought. And that’s what I joined him in fighting.”

But Palin is not alone in simply denying reality. Her partner, John McCain, has shown his own ability to not blush while lying.

On the ABC-TV show “The View,” McCain was confronted with Palin’s contradictory record of arranging earmarks while selling herself as a reformer. McCain simply ignored the facts and declared, “not as governor she didn’t.”

McCain’s Lies

But McCain now has his own long trail of stunning lies, both about his opponent Barack Obama and McCain’s dubious reputation for clean politics. After presiding over a convention notable for its partisan rancor — including endless mocking of Obama as a “community organizer” — McCain said his presidency would be about eliminating “partisan rancor.”

Earlier in the campaign, McCain approved ads accusing Obama of everything from causing $4 a gallon gasoline (a silly charge) to stiffing wounded U.S. troops in Germany by canceling a visit because he couldn’t bring along cameras (a false accusation).

More recently, McCain and his team have blamed Obama for passing a law that would require sex education for kindergarteners and for calling Palin a “pig” when the Democratic nominee criticized McCain’s economic package by saying it was like “putting lipstick on a pig.”

Though McCain himself had applied the common expression to Hillary Clinton’s health-care plan, Obama’s use of the image was ripped from its context and twisted into a “sexist” attack on Palin.

As for the kindergarten sex-education ad, the McCain campaign had contorted Obama’s support for a program that would teach young school children how to avoid sexual predators into providing them “comprehensive sex education.”

When confronted on “The View” about these two dishonest ads, McCain insisted that “actually they are not lies.” He then went on to argue that his own use of the “lipstick on a pig” remark was different because he was talking about Clinton’s health-care plan.

Barbara Walters, one of the program’s co-hosts, challenged this excuse, noting that Obama was speaking about change, not Palin.

McCain’s response was that Obama “chooses his words very carefully,” suggesting apparently that when McCain has used the phrase he doesn’t. McCain added as his defense that harsh things have been said about him, too, and that “this is a tough campaign.”

At the end of McCain campaign ads — including others that have compared Obama to Paris Hilton and distorted his positions on taxes, health care and energy — the voters hear McCain intoning, “I approved this message.”

Successful Strategy

All of this might not be so troubling to Americans who care about the future of their democracy, except that the smears are working.

The McCain-Palin ticket is surging in the polls behind this strategy of deliberate lies and deceptive rhetoric. Many national polls now put the Republicans ahead in the presidential race and show them quickly closing the gap with Democrats in congressional races.

Not only has the lying worked well in raising fresh doubts about Obama and lifting the spirits of Republican activists, but it’s had a curious impact on the national press corps, which has difficulty standing up to what might be called strategic lying that saturates the media’s capacity for fact-checking and plays on the desire to appear “even-handed.”

For weeks, the national press corps essentially has followed a “plague on both their houses” approach to campaign distortions, even though the McCain campaign was by far the more egregious — and systematic — in its pattern of misrepresentations.

Indeed, it seems that the McCain strategy included preemptive berating of the news media for “bias” as a way to scare journalists away from taking note of how McCain’s strategic lying was reshaping the electoral landscape.

It took the New York Times until Sept. 13 to publish a comprehensive story about McCain’s cynical approach to politics.

The Times story noted that McCain’s “strategy now reflects a calculation advisers made this summer — over the strenuous objections of some longtime hands who helped him build his ‘Straight Talk’ image — to shift the campaign more toward disqualifying Mr. Obama in the eyes of voters.”

The Times added that “for all the criticism [of the lies and distortions], the offensive seems to be having an impact. It has been widely credited by strategists in both parties with rejuvenating Mr. McCain’s campaign and putting Mr. Obama on the defensive since it began early this summer.”

Times columnist Bob Herbert made a similar point in a Sept. 13 op-ed, writing: “While watching the Sarah Palin interview with Charlie Gibson and the coverage of the Palin phenomenon in general, I’ve gotten the scary feeling, for the first time in my life, that dimwittedness is not just on the march in the U.S., but that it might actually prevail.”

McCain’s Record

Beyond the studied anti-intellectualism — even anti-realism — now surrounding the McCain-Palin campaign, there is another longer-term question of whether McCain’s current behavior is just a “campaign mode” aberration or whether he ever deserved the favorable depiction as a “maverick” and a “reformer.”

Though McCain has bucked his party on some high-profile issues, such as campaign finance reform and earmarked spending, his actual record reveals him to be a doctrinaire conservative with his own checkered past on ethics.

McCain, in effect, reinvented himself as a “reformer” in the 1990s after he got caught in the late 1980s in a savings-and-loan influence-peddling scheme with Cindy McCain’s business partner, Charles Keating.

Even in recent years while cultivating his reform image, McCain — as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee — has maintained cozy relationships with business lobbyists and, indeed, stocked his campaign staff with many of the insiders he rails against.

Yet, because of his long history of flattering press clippings — he once called the journalists on his “Straight Talk Express” his “base” — McCain seems to always expect gentle treatment, regardless of his actions. That confidence has enabled him to get away with stating the opposite of obvious truths and suffering little consequence.

For instance, when the New York Times published an article on Feb. 21 describing McCain’s relationship with a telecommunication lobbyist, his campaign issued a statement declaring that “John McCain has a 24-year record of serving our country [in Congress] with honor and integrity. He has never violated the public trust, never done favors for special interests or lobbyists, and he will not allow a smear campaign to distract from the issues at stake in this election.”

McCain issued this statement despite the clear public record about his role as one of the so-called “Keating Five,” senators who did favors for savings-and-loan wheeler-dealer Charles Keating.

In 1987, Keating wanted to frustrate oversight from federal banking regulators who were examining his Lincoln Savings and Loan Association. At Keating’s urging, McCain wrote letters, introduced bills and pushed a Keating associate for a job on a banking regulatory board. McCain then joined several other senators in two private meetings with federal banking regulators on Keating’s behalf.

Two years later, Lincoln collapsed, costing the U.S. taxpayers $3.4 billion. Keating eventually went to prison and three other senators from the Keating Five saw their political careers ruined. McCain drew a Senate reprimand for his involvement and later lamented his faulty judgment. “Why didn’t I fully grasp the unusual appearance of such a meeting?” he wrote in his 2002 memoir, Worth the Fighting For.

But some people close to the case thought McCain got off too easy — and actually may have been the senator most deeply entwined with Keating. Not only was McCain taking donations from Keating and his business circle, getting free rides on Keating’s corporate jet and enjoying joint vacations in the Bahamas — McCain’s second wife, the beer fortune heiress Cindy Hensley, had invested with Keating in an Arizona shopping mall.

In the years that followed, however, McCain not only got out from under the shadow of the Keating Five scandal but found a silver lining in the cloud, transforming the case into a lessons-learned chapter of his personal narrative.

Nevertheless, years later when the Times article questioned just how ethical the “new” John McCain really was, McCain lashed back with a categorical statement that was categorically untrue, saying he had “never done favors for special interests.”

When one considers how other recent presidential candidates, such as Al Gore in 2000, were treated for perceived misstatements about their personal records, it’s striking how effectively McCain has escaped serious criticism for lying — and how he has sustained his reputation as a supposed “truth-teller.”

So, perhaps, the current pattern of McCain approving dishonest ads and embracing a calculated strategy of false statements about Barack Obama shouldn’t come as a surprise.

McCain now seems to have located a soul-mate in Sarah Palin, who shares McCain’s assuredness in making public statements that are clear-cut lies and then insisting they are absolute truth.

The only remaining question is how well this strategy will work.

-=======================================================

Olbermann: Ayers a guest in McCain’s glass house
In a Special Campaign Comment, Keith Olbermann points out that not only does John McCain have a closer relationship with Rashid Khalidi than Barack Obama does, that relationship means McCain is has a connection to William Ayers as well.
=======================================================

And a whole lot more from Alternet

Evangelicals and Rural Americans Are Breaking Big for Obama

By Robert S. Eshelman, Tomdispatch.com

Election 2008: A mass defection from the Republican Party may be underway in counties that were once GOP strongholds. Call it the reverse Bradley Effect.

The Nasty Truth: Free Trade Agreements May Scuttle Green Jobs Plans

Joshua Holland, AlterNet

Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace: Many of the promises the candidates make on the stump would have trouble passing muster with the WTO — that’s the whole point of “free trade” deals.

A Solar Gold Rush Is Spreading From California to New Jersey

Dara Colwell, AlterNet

Environment: With new solar-powered movie theaters and factories, the solar industry is exploding. But how far can it take us toward a clean energy future?

How the Economy Is Affecting Your Sex Life

Vanessa Richmond, The Tyee

Sex and Relationships: Softening up, going down, losing firmness — it seems sex and the economy have more in common than language.

How Much Damage Has Eight Years of Conservative Rule Done to Americans’ Psyches?
Mark Klempner, AlterNet

Health and Wellness: The Bush administration used a politics of fear to diminish our ability to think critically and to erode our capacity to love.

Patients v. Big Pharma: Supreme Court to Decide Landmark Case
Niko Karvounis, Health Beat

Health and Wellness: Should patients have the right to sue drug companies for personal injuries from FDA-approved prescription drugs?

Why I Love Taxes — And Most Americans Do, Too
Sally Kohn, Movement Vision Lab

Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace: Conservatives talk about “starving the beast” of government. But given that government feeds and nurtures us, we’d only be starving ourselves.

It’s Time for a Trillion-Dollar Tag Sale at the Pentagon
Nick Turse, Tomdispatch.com

Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace: When we want to get serious about a long-term bailout strategy, we’ll start dismantling the American empire and Pentagon programs.

Can You Guess a Person’s Politics by Their Personality? Psychologist Team Says Yes
Maria Luisa Tucker, AlterNet

Election 2008: A map illustrating regional personality differences across America is surprisingly similar to the red state/blue state map of the nation.

Will the Economic Crash Take Down Our Hopes for Clean Energy?
David Morris, AlterNet

Environment: This happened before, in 1981. But this time the renewable energy industry is in better shape for a fight.

Michelle ‘McCarthy’ Bachmann — The Hate Monger of Minnesota
Max Blumenthal, The Daily Beast

Election 2008: How a Minnesota congresswoman became the poster child for the GOP’s election 2008 crack-up.

The New York Times’ Biggest Screw-up Since They Sold the War in Iraq
Mark Ames, The Nation

Media and Technology: Deconstructing the NYT fairy tale of the poor innocent small democracy of Georgia attacked by a cruel Cold War Russian monster.

Don’t Look Now, There’s a Huge Wave of Inflation Coming Toward Us
Kevin Phillips, Huffington Post

Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace: Paulson and Bernanke’s “rescue” have only begun to do their full long-term damage.

Can “Card-Check” Lead to Labor’s Comeback?
Kim Moody, Labor Notes

Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace: Despite innovations in unionizing through the card check process, a bold initiative waiting in Congress is the big hope.

Where Have All the Water Fountains Gone?
Richard Girard, Polaris Institute

Water: New buildings are being constructed without water fountains, and existing buildings are decommissioning older fountains.

Obama vs. McCain: Progressive Voter Guide to Reproductive Justice and Gender
AlterNet

Reproductive Justice and Gender: Find out how the candidates compare on the 10 most important reproductive justice and gender issues, from abortion to equal pay.

How McCain Turned His Back on the Vietnamese Man Who Saved His Life
Norman Stockwell, AlterNet

Election 2008: Forty-one years after McCain was shot down in Vietnam, the man who saved his life has died in obscurity.

Republicans Face Huge Losses in the House and Senate Across the Country
Hans Johnson, In These Times

With public dissatisfaction at record highs, Democrats are set for another round of pickups.

Obama Campaign Takes the Fight to FOX
ZP Heller, Brave New Films

Video: Watch Obama spokesman Bill Burton stand up to FOX’s Megyn Kelly.

A Class Analysis of Palin’s Classy New Clothes
Sue Katz, Consenting Adult

PEEK: All this criticism is not sliding off Palin’s silk-covered back.

The Great Porn Misunderstanding: Pornography Is Mostly About Fantasy, Not Reality
Michael Bader, AlterNet

A response to Robert Jensen’s recent AlterNet article, “Porn’s Dirty, Dangerous Secret.”

5 Reasons Why Wall Street’s Bailout Won’t Work
Danny Schechter, AlterNet

Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace: Markets are volatile and trending down while banks are still not lending despite frequent projections of massive unemployment and stagflation.

Why Straight People Need to Get into the Fight for Marriage Equality
Joshua Holland, AlterNet

Reproductive Justice and Gender: Pragmatism doesn’t mean leaving your core principles at the door.

Facing Substantial Delays at the Polls, Voters Sue the State of Pennsylvania
Danielle Ivory, American News Project

Default: With the help of Voter Action and the NAACP, voters filed a complaint in a Philadelphia federal court.

Getting to the Bottom of the Deceptive, Secretive and Artificial Iraq-U.S. Negotiations
Phyllis Bennis, Foreign Policy in Focus

War on Iraq: Whatever the U.S.-Iraqi “agreement” ends up looking like, it is unlikely to have much of an effect on the occupation.

Obama vs. McCain: Progressive Voter Guide to Water Issues
AlterNet

Water: See how Obama and McCain compare on eight water issues from privatization to pollution.

If the GOP Had Listened to ACORN’s Advice, the Mortgage Industry Wouldn’t Be in Meltdown
Peter Dreier, John Atlas, The Nation

Election 2008: Desperate Republicans are scapegoating the respected community advocacy group for Wall Street’s disastrous lending spree.

Michael Moore: No More Socialism for the Rich!
CNN

“McCain is going to make sure the wealthy get another incredible tax break while everybody else suffers.”

Sen. Ted Stevens Found Guilty on All Counts in Corruption Trial
Amanda Terkel, Think Progress

PEEK: The Senate’s longest-serving Republican may end his career with jail time.

Families of the Victims Tortured by Chicago Detectives Rejoice at First Arrest
Liliana Segura, AlterNet

Rights and Liberties: A 25-year fight to bring Jon Burge and police who systematically tortured black men to justice makes a critical breakthrough.

The Devastation in Iraq Is Systematic — And It’s About to Get Much Worse
Michael Schwartz, Tomdispatch.com

War on Iraq: Iraq’s state of complete disrepair has created a population in steaming discontent.

Some Voters Are Going to Have to Lose Their Homes Before They Connect the Dots
Garrison Keillor, Tribune Media Services

Election 2008: It’s clear that some Americans are beyond persuasion. Thankfully, it seems that most of us are willing to recognize BS when we see it.

Bush Undermines Democracy with Attack on 200,000 New Ohio Voters
Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet

Democracy and Elections: How far will an already politicized Justice Department go to assist Republicans win on November 4?

Manufacturing Thirst: The Hidden Water Costs of Our Industrial Economy
Kari Lydersen, Earth Island Journal

Water: From the mining of raw materials to energy production to the manufacturing process itself, industry guzzles tons of water.

Obama vs. McCain: Our Democracy and Elections Are Both Vibrant and in Peril — Voter Guide
AlterNet

Election 2008: From voter suppression to trust in public elections, a look at the candidates’ positions on 10 important voter issues.

Republican Fears of an Obama Landslide Victory Unleash Civil War within the Party
Tim Shipman, The Telegraph (UK)

Election 2008: Senior Republicans believe Barack Obama will have more political power than any president in a generation.

Palin: ‘I Don’t Know’ If Abortion Clinic Bombers Are Terrorists
Jed L, Daily Kos

Election 2008: Palin gives a wink and a nod to right-wing extremists, with whom she shares radical views about the reproductive rights of women.

Bono: “Let’s Put Humanity Back on Earth”
Bono, AlterNet

Health and Wellness: In a recent speech, the pop star makes an impassioned call for Americans to resist the urge to turn inward during our troubled times.

I’ve Got a Bad Case of Election Sickness
Annabelle Gurwitch, TheNation.com

Election 2008: Incessant cries for help — and money — from people running campaigns are destroying my peace of mind.

Military Mom: Why I’m Sour About Sarah Palin
Pat Alviso, AlterNet

After all, if my son can buck up and do yet another tour of duty in Iraq, I can face a crowd of Palin supporters.

Good Thing We’re Going to Have to Live with Less Stuff — We’ll Stay Alive on Earth for Longer That Way
Stan Cox, AlterNet

Environment: If we scale down economic activity — especially if the rich do — we could all live in a cleaner world.

The Long Road Ahead — Are You Ready for the Worst the Economy Has to Offer?
James Howard Kunstler, Kunstler.com

Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace: Are we headed for a deflationary period followed by a tidal wave of inflation?

California’s Big Chance to Stop Locking up Harmless Drug Offenders
AlterNet

DrugReporter: Supporters of California’s Prop 5 argue it would dramatically improve the way non-violent offenders are treated.

The Debt Trap: How Banks Push Troubled Borrowers Deeper Into Debt
Brad Stone, The New York Times

Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace: Big Finance’s pursuit of struggling American consumers is one of the overlooked causes of the debt boom and the resulting crisis.

Thirteen Election Integrity Experts: E-Voting Problems and How to Stop Them
Jim Cirile, Velvet Revolution

Democracy and Elections: Thirteen election integrity experts and activists discuss the e-voting challenges and solutions for 2008.

Obama vs. McCain: Where Would the Election Be without Net Neutrality? — Media & Technology Voter Guide
AlterNet

Media and Technology: A look at how Obama and McCain compare on everything from net neutrality to the digital TV transition.

=

=