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McCain Camp Admits Issues, Truth Don't Matter

September 15, 2008

There's an old saying that "everyone is entitled their own opinion, not their own facts." Not according to John McCain. In the face of an avalanche of criticism across the political spectrum over John McCain's endless lies, distortions and smears, his campaign continues to insist that the truth doesn't matter. For John McCain, facts themselves are subject to debate.
The downward trajectory of the McCain, as I predicted months ago, was revealed by campaign chairman Rick Davis' admission two week ago that a war on Barack Obama's character - and not the issues - is the only thing John McCain care about.

"This election is not about issues. This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates."

And to manufacture that "composite view," McCain and his Republican allies would literally make lying the centerpiece of their campaign. As Team McCain's mountain of falsehoods about Sarah Palin's record on earmarks, travel to Iraq, national security and energy expertise and the Bridge to Nowhere grew to almost comic proportions, GOP strategist John Feehery was clear that truth indeed would be the first casualty in McCain's character war. As the Washington Post reported:

John Feehery, a Republican strategist, said the campaign is entering a stage in which skirmishes over the facts are less important than the dominant themes that are forming voters' opinions of the candidates.
"The more the New York Times and The Washington Post go after Sarah Palin, the better off she is, because there's a bigger truth out there and the bigger truths are she's new, she's popular in Alaska and she is an insurgent," Feehery said. "As long as those are out there, these little facts don't really matter."

After McCain was blasted by the hosts of ABC's The View on Friday for his patently false ads attacking Obama, campaign spokesman Brian Rogers insisted truth was relative.

"If you and the Obama campaign want to disagree, that's your call."

Then on Saturday, it was Rogers again who put McCain's Vince Lombardi strategy ("winning isn't everything, it's the only thing") on the table:

"We're running a campaign to win. And we're not too concerned about what the media filter tries to say about it."

In fits and starts, the media are finally beginning to push back. Editorial boards across the nation branded McCain's ads and statements "intellectually dishonest", "deceptive", "double-speak", "a fictional narrative" and a "gross distortion." On Saturday, NBC's Mark Murray in a piece simply titled, "Wheels Come off Straight Talk Express?" documented "a brutal day for John McCain and his campaign" as the chorus of press criticism reached a crescendo.
By Sunday, even Karl Rove was forced to acknowledge John McCain's blatant disregard for the truth. While claiming "you can't trust the fact-check organizations," Rove admitted that McCain has:

"Gone, in some of his step too far, and sort of attributing to Obama things that are, you know, beyond the 100 percent truth test."

Amazingly, Fox News' Megan Kelly followed suit, blasting McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds for his campaign's lies about the Obama tax plan. "Virtually every independent analyst who took a look at that claim," Kelly rightly noted, "said that’s not true."
For their part, the Obama campaign and the Democratic Party are belatedly starting to fight back. The DNC debuted a "Count the Lies" web site to document John McCain's growing legion falsehoods and deceptions. And the Obama camp launched a new ad decrying McCain's dishonorable campaign.
The venerable Democratic Senator and Vice President Hubert Humphrey once said, "The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously." In his scorched earth war for the White House, that is a risk John McCain is clearly willing to take.
After all, John McCain's mantra is a perversion of the words of Abraham Lincoln:

"You can fool some of the people all the time and that's our target market."


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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