All week, I’ve been meaning to write about this Los Angeles Times article from last weekend, which claimed that McCain has been more dishonest than Obama:
For weeks, John McCain and his campaign have made claims contradicted by reality: Barack Obama favors sex education for kindergartners and insulted Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin; Palin sold her state plane on EBay and turned down federal money for the “bridge to nowhere.”
Obama has argued that McCain doesn’t understand voter concern about the foundering economy and — attention, Michigan voters — has refused to support loan guarantees for the auto industry.
If any of those statements rings true, then a campaign adage has proved itself again: Repeat something often enough, and it becomes real, even when it isn’t.
Political innocents may wonder why a candidate like McCain, whose campaign is premised on what he calls “straight talk” — and to a lesser extent Obama — have veered from the flat truth.
The answer is simple: because it works.
Obama has veered from the truth less than McCain, eh?
First, let’s look at one of the alleged untruths from McCain: that “Barack Obama favors sex education for kindergartners.”
Here is a direct quote from the bill that Obama voted for:
Each class or course in comprehensive sex education in any of grades K through 12 shall include instruction on the prevention of sexually transmitted infections, including the prevention, transmission and spread of HIV.
Sounds like comprehensive sex education for kindergarteners to me!
Now, it is true that the bill also specifies that any classes must be “age and developmentally appropriate.” Does that mean that we’re only talking about not letting bad people touch your privates? Byron York interviewed one of the sponsors of the bill, who said that the bill “absolutely” dealt with more than simply education about inappropriate touching. And his view seems borne out by the text of the law — which, again, specifies teaching about STDs, even to kindergarteners. As Allahpundit notes, this “leav[es] us to wonder what sort of information on AIDS and syphilis is ‘developmentally appropriate for five-year-olds.” Alas, legislators’ and educators’ views on that may be different from those of parents of kindergarteners.
As for whether Obama insulted Sarah Palin with his “lipstick on a pig” comment, I have already written about how the “fact-checkers” have declared this utterly subjective claim to be objectively false — even as Obama’s audiences, and some leftist commenters here, clearly perceived it as an insult . . . and reveled in it.
McCain did indeed say — once! — that Palin had sold her state plane on eBay; Palin herself has been careful to state (correctly) that she put it on eBay. So that’s hardly a claim that McCain has made “for weeks.”
The “bridge to nowhere” topic is more complicated, but ultimately is not as big a deal as many of Palin’s critics portray it. Palin has said that she said “thanks but no thanks” to Congress on the bridge to nowhere. Palin did kill the bridge project — a fact that the AP noted when she did it. But she initially supported it, and she kept the money and spent it on other projects.
Reasonable people could argue that the repeated “thanks but no thanks” statement contains one or more false implications: 1) that she always opposed the bridge, and 2) that she gave the money back. Neither is true. However, equally reasonable people might respond that politicians are not under a consistent obligation to remind people of past instances where they held a different position. The press should tell people about those past positions — and when pressed on them, a candidate should acknowledge them. That doesn’t make it a lie to fail to constantly note your previous inconsistent positions in speech settings. Some of Palin’s critics have taken possible implications and turned them into positive assertions of fact. Not surprisingly, these same critics have studiously ignored Palin’s true record of budget-cutting, including a veto of $268 million of spending at a time when the state had budget surpluses. This record suggests that she would indeed be strong on earmarks — not to mention that John McCain never took one, even as Obama and Biden had their noses consistently in the trough.
Meanwhile, what about Obama’s lies??
Never mind the old stuff about how he claimed an aide filled out a questionnaire with extreme views, but his handwriting showed up on the form; how he said he wouldn’t run for president in 2008; how he traces his very existence to the generosity of the Kennedy family, etc.
Obama recently ran a dishonest ad tying John McCain to Rush Limbaugh on the issue of immigration reform — and distorting Limbaugh’s quotes beyond all recognition in the process. In June, Obama claimed McCain was “fueled” by money from lobbyists and PACs, when that actually accounted for only 1.7% of McCain’s money.
On his own record, Obama flat-out lied about taking public financing — and he lied about why he didn’t do it, blaming it all on McCain when it was his own decision. Just last month, Obama misstated the reason that he voted against a bill that would have required doctors to give medical attention to babies born alive after a botched abortion. Obama took money from oil companies and claimed he didn’t (I’ll give the L.A. Times credit for catching this — but why did they forget about it in last weekend’s article??).
Over the past week, Obama inflated his role in the creation of the stimulus package. And Obama is now being deceptive about McCain’s regulatory record. I can’t find a story about these topics in the L.A. Times.
Now, some of what I have listed occurred after the L.A. Times article I’m criticizing. But the paper has hardly made a big deal out of these lies.
Saying that McCain has been less honest than Obama is ridiculous, and underlines the partisan slant this paper puts on its stories.