Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Talking Points

I don't really know what I can add to the most excellent rants which have been appearing in the past few days, whether from former GW Bush and Iraq war booster Andrew Sullivan, or former conduit for Rovian narratives Joe Klein, or long-time critic of stupidity and lies Paul Slansky. But I will try to put my own gloss on what we are all seeing.

It's certainly nothing new for politicians to lie. But even after the horrors of Republican campaigning and governing since Richard Nixon, culminating in Saddam Hussein being responsible for the attack five years ago followed by bogus "terror alerts" every time the Cheney administration faced bad news, John McCain has established a new standard.

McCain's campaign is nothing but a tissue of lies. He doesn't just use lies, he doesn't just lie when he needs to, he does nothing else. The entire campaign narrative is fabrication. Let's begin with the Sarah Palin character -- a tough minded, fiscally responsible reformer who eliminated wasteful government spending and rejected pork even when Congress offered it. This is the precise opposite of the truth, of course. Josh Marshall takes the lipstick off that particular pig with this amusing video. Yet, even though innumerable very mainstream, corporate media outlets from ABC News to the New York Times have completely debunked it, Palin continues to say, every day, that she told Congress "No thanks" to the Bridge to Nowhere, and gets enthusiastic applause. The truth is the exact opposite. The precise, perfect, 180 degree, platonic ideal of opposite. She campaigned for governor on a platform of taking the money and building the bridge, and was still for it one year after Congress has eliminated the earmark, but ultimately kept the money and used it for other largely senseless purposes.

But it doesn't matter. McCain says that Obama will impose "painful tax increases" on people making $45,000 a year, even though Obama has specifically promised to cut their taxes. McCain says that Obama wants to teach comprehensive sex education to 5 year olds, when in fact he voted to teach them how to protect themselves from pedophiles. McCain says that Obama called Sarah Palin a pig. He didn't, of course, even though Sarah Palin is in fact a pig. The corporate media dutifully note, once, that none of this is true, but McCain keeps saying it.

And it works. The people who see the ads or hear the candidates or surrogates utter these lies may hear a news story set up as "McCain says X, Obama says it isn't true," and if they're inclined to like McCain in the first place, that means Obama is a liar, right? But they probably won't even hear that. There is no penalty for being a habitual, remorseless, relentless liar, on national television, while running for president. There's a reward. It works. You win.

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