My Beautiful Wickedness


When you’ll lie about meeting Mother Teresa…
September 21, 2008, 5:43 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

what won’t you lie about?

As a historian, I know that this is not the dirtiest campaign ever. It is, however, getting close to being the most relentlessly and intentionally deceptive one I’ve seen, thanks to the McCain campaign’s reliance on the advice of Karl Rove protege, Steve Schmidt. The project of the McCain campaign — throw hundreds of glittering falsehoods in the air, the better to distract voters who have little help from a rattle-headed media in sorting out signal from noise — is designed, in the words of Frank Rich, “to construct a bogus alternative reality so relentless it can overwhelm any haphazard journalistic stabs at puncturing it.” They intend to mislead. They intend to defraud. That’s the point. It’s the Big Lie strategy. Manufacture crap, say it loud, say it often, and whiz-bang, a frightened and confused group of voters will mill around uncomfortably at the gas station and the beauty salon asking “so, have you heard about this Obama Moslem thing? Is that true?” And humans, being human, want to be certain even if they are wrong. Someone in the crowd (needing to lead) invariably says “Yes, that’s true. I heard it on TV, I got an e-mail about that.” And humans, seeking companionship in frightening times, convince each other that they know something, even if that something that they think they know is entirely wrong.

But, to paraphrase Madonna, we are living in an empirical world and I am an empirical girl. Welcome to the Kingdom of “Let’s Look It Up.” The place where John McCain had nothing to do with the invention of the BlackBerry. The place where Obama’s tax plan is not about raising taxes (as half of Americans now believe), but lowering taxes of 98% of American wage-earners. Where Governor Palin greenlighted the building of a useless gravel road to empty beach in Ketchikan, Alaska rather than return the earmarked $25 million federal funds.

I’m going to get some truth in here if it kills me.

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11 Comments so far
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Bridgett, I am not going to defend McCain. He is certainly not the most desirable candidate, in my view. But to believe that Obama is not also doing this, reveals you to either be not very smart or blindly partisan. Knowing that you are a near genius, I will just say blindly partisan. This stuff goes both ways. Both candidates suck and both are using some creatively deceptive accounting in their economic plans. The difference between the two is that one is a fiscal liberal and one is a socialist. You’ve thrown your hat in with the socialist, obviously.

Comment by Glen Dean

Glen, take off the tinfoil hat. Obama is not even close to being a socialist. The only people using Daddy Warbucks-style government to take over private corporations these days would be Republicans…which must be somewhat disappointing to the big C conservatives such as yourself. Obama’s policies are not really even all that progressive; he’s nowhere near as redistributive in orientation as FDR, not even close to being as progressive on education policy as LBJ, and not even as pro-choice as Nixon. He’s pretty middle of the road — he is merely running at a time in which half the nation has swung hard-right in our rhetoric. That being said, I’m not disturbed by socialism, creeping or otherwise.

It’s hard to see anything in McCain’s tax/ed/health plan that would make him a fiscal liberal, but I’d be happy to hear how you see it . He has endorsed the $700 billion bailout package and maybe that’s where you see his liberalism — don’t you wonder why he wasn’t more on top of things, considering the years he spent on the Commerce committee? — at this point, it appears that he’s merely acknowledging that the shit is hitting the fan and that this must be done to soften the global economic collapse.

As far as the relative deceptiveness of the campaigns, I would say that while doubtlessly Obama’s campaign has had their share of misleading statements (and I recommend factcheck.org as a wonderful resource to get down to brass tacks about the claims of various politicians), what completely steams my clams about McCain’s campaign is that they are sowing fictions as a campaign strategy on a massive scale. These aren’t matters of degree — how much will my tax cut save you? and spinning numbers this way and that, which is unfortunately what our politics devolves into by late September — but lies outright. You either met Mother Teresa or you didn’t. You either rejected earmarks or you didn’t. That’s not spin, Glen. That’s a lie. They lie about their experiences, their qualifications, their opponents (remember the bs about “sex ed for kindergarteners” that was immediately disproved?). Even Republican advertising strategist Don Sipple has been quoted as saying “I think the predominance of liberty taken with truth and the facts has been more McCain than Obama.” Moreover, Matthew Dowd (who was Bush’s 2004 strategist and has worked closely with McCain’s advisers) observed in a recent NYT article that the lies are a means to an end: “I think the McCain folks realize if they can get this thing down in the mud, drag Obama into the mud, that’s where they have the best advantage to win, whereas if they stay up at 10,000 feet, they don’t.”

McCain is authorizing disinformation for the purpose of confusing and defrauding American voters. It’s offensively dishonest.

Comment by bridgett

Somewhere in that 1000 word essay, you admitted that “doubtlessly Obama’s campaign has had their share of misleading statements”. Good enough for me.

Comment by Glen Dean

Yep. He’s offered some spun statements, no doubt. I believe that these are different in their magnitude, frequency, and purpose than those outright lies offered by his opponent’s campaign and they trouble me a hell of a lot less.

Comment by bridgett

Glen Dean:

Gosh Glen, I so don’t miss your witless wisdom. Bridgett IS a genius; you, not so much–fatuous idiot would be a little closer to the mark. McCain and his campaign tell lies as easily and frequently as Bushco (no surprise considering who’s running his campaign).

Bridgett:

Sorry for being rude, not because Glen doesn’t deserve it, but because you don’t do that sort of thing.

This:

““But now there are too many professional and amateur fact-checkers,” he says. “And there are hundreds if not thousands of bloggers who have detailed knowledge on specialized information, so you really can’t get away with stretching the truth anymore.””

from the article you mentioned, is on the money.

The McCain campaign can’t stretch the truth, so they make things up. It’s harder to fact check when there is no fact to look at.

Comment by democommie

Oh, I show my ass from time to time, but it really doesn’t get me anywhere and nobody learns anything.

As my daddy might say, if I’m so smart, why ain’t I rich?

Comment by bridgett

Is Glen engaging in some of that moral equivalence stuff that conservatives obsess about so?

Comment by nm

Guys, Glen is no fan of McCain. I’m just suggesting that their “ain’t a dimes worth of difference” when it comes to exaggerations. That Spanish language ad by Obama is an example.

Democommie, I don’t have anything against Bridgett. I actually do consider her to be quite intelligent, but like me she is also an ideologue. There is nothing wrong with being an ideologue though, unless you are a complete hate filled wackjob like you.

Comment by Glen Dean

I dunno; I see a huge gap between exaggerations for effect or speculations about the results of future actions and flat-out lies about easily proven/disproven past actions. I don’t see how one gets not a dime’s worth of difference out of that. I don’t like the former, but they are in a whole different moral (not to say practical) category from the latter, IMO.

Comment by nm

Ideologue? Only if the ideology is empiricism, and then I’ll cop. I am of an analytical bent and I am confident (though not excessively so, to the point of not being able to learn a new trick) of my own analysis. Once having arrived at a decision (particularly about politics), I become an advocate for action. Thanks to self-publishing, I have built me a little soapbox and I get up and rant from time to time.

It used to be that when voters informed themselves and became passionate in knowing and exercising their rights, that was called responsible citizenship. Now anything short of dithering equivocation can be dismissed as blind partisanship.

Glen and I disagree (but that’s ok, Glen, my mom has your back on this too) about the magnitude of distortion coming out of each campaign (Glen (and my mom) says Obama=McCain on this point and both are equally disgusting. I say that McCain > Obama and that lying has been intentionally adopted as a way to divert attention from the utter loser of the GOP team who would otherwise be floundering to distance themselves from Bush and to explain what he was doing on the Commerce committee as Rome burned and stuff such as that.

Comment by bridgett

And yeah, what nm said. Exaggeration is bad, rhetorical flourish and speculation is irritating, but it’s a different animal than “I got shot at in Bosnia” or “I met Mother T.” or “I didn’t vote with the President” (when you habitually supported his legislation) or “I’ve always been tough on immigration” (when you sponsored the 2006 legislation). That’s just trying to create an alternate universe in which things happened that didn’t really happen — what the rest of us call being a Lying McLiarPants.

Comment by bridgett




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