Liar, Liar

Part 2

Independent watchdog groups and, increasingly, mainstream media are debunking what many call an unprecedented number of distortions and smears put forward by John McCain as he attempts to lie his way into the White House.

Concern about the McCain lies is being raised by non-partisan groups, fact check operations, newspapers and columnists. Jonathan Alter, the Newsweek reporter who has covered eight presidential elections, is among many who have described the number of lies as “unprecedented” for a candidate seeking the highest office in the land. Even Karl Rove, longtime GOP mastermind of smear tactics, said in a TV interview that McCain’s “stretching of the truth” has been “over the top.”

One of the latest lies involves McCain’s response to the financial meltdown that threatens the livelihoods of millions of Americans. Economist James Galbraith, professor of government and business relations at the University of Texas, challenged McCain’s claim Sept. 15 that he would reign in abuses on Wall Street. The “waves of predatory finance” that led to the meltdown, Galbraith said, “were aggressively promoted by McCain and his closest economic adviser, Phil Gramm, who systematically subverted the public interest” through their support for deregulation.

The Democratic Party has created a new website, Count the Lies, which has so far posted 54 lies and distortions by McCain since he wrapped up the GOP nomination in March, culled from the mainstream media.

Among these, the Washington Post noted Sept. 16 that McCain described his vice presidential running mate, Sarah Palin, as “the most knowledgeable person in America on energy issues.” The paper said, “The woman touted by John McCain as the most knowledgeable person in America on energy issues has been having a lot of trouble getting her statistics straight. Last week she said that her state, Alaska, produced nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy.

“Yesterday, she told a campaign rally in Golden, Colorado, that she has been responsible for overseeing nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of oil and gas. Both claims are way off.”

News outlets are noting that McCain can lie in Spanish, too.

The New York Times declared, Sept. 15, that “John McCain’s truth-deficient campaign hit another low last Friday with a fraudulent new ad, this time about immigration. The ad, in Spanish, accuses Barack Obama and his congressional allies of killing immigration reform. It’s a gross distortion.” Salon pointed out the same day, “It was McCain who abandoned his own legislation after the Republican base rose up against it.

Blaming Obama for the failure of the bill is simply wrong, no matter what language you do it in.”

The Chicago Tribune on Sept. 9 challenged the repeated McCain-Palin lies about Palin being the main player in blocking Alaska’s infamous “Bridge to Nowhere.”

“The McCain campaign keeps saying she stopped the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ in an attempt to burnish her credentials as a pork-fighting reformer. And reporters keep point-ing out that her claim is exaggerated. Still the McCain campaign keeps up the misleading line that she was the main player in taking out the bridge. And still reporters keep shedding light on the inexactness, to put it politely, of that claim. And after all this the McCain campaign has cut a TV ad that pushes the line that Palin stopped the bridge. It’s as if they decided to go with the first two parts of that famous Lincoln quote: ‘You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time.’”

The Daily News Miner in Anchorage said Aug. 31 that “Palin supported the Bridge to Nowhere and later kept the money — that was hardly ‘thanks, but no thanks.’”

On Sept. 11 The New York Times assailed McCain for lying about Obama’s position on sex education. McCain is running ads claiming Obama backed comprehensive sex education for kindergarten children when, in fact, he backed funds that provided for a comprehensive program in public schools. The segment for kindergarteners was geared to helping them protect themselves against potential abuse. The Washington Post said “McCain gets two Pinocchios for the education ad.”

Another McCain ad claims that Obama’s tax plan will raise taxes on small businesses, seniors and the middle class. FactCheck.org noted on Aug. 8, “This statement is simply not true.” The group pointed out that the Obama plan involves a $1,000 tax cut for families making up to $150,000 a year and increases only for families earning more than $250,000 and individuals earning more than $200,000.

McCain has said he supported every investigation to determine how the government failed after Hurricane Katrina. “The claim is false,” says FactCheck.org: “The record is clear. McCain lined up with his party as it circled the wagons to defend the Bush administration against probes of what went wrong before and after Katrina.”

Contrasting the audacity of the McCain campaign lies to the craftier “deceptive and dishonest 2000 Bush-Cheney campaign,” columnist Paul Krugman argues that the Bush administration secrecy and lies about Iraq would pale in comparison. The McCain-Palin administration would not just be a continuation of Bush-Cheney, he said, “if the way [they] are campaigning is any indication, it would be much, much worse.”

jwojcik@pww.org

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