Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Case-Study In Really Dumb

In my childhood and youth, a politician could lie with impunity, because the reaction time was so slow. It might be a day or two before a letter to the editor, or an op-ed, or the occasional "fact check" kind of thing appeared on a news broadcast to point out that Mr. or Ms. Politician was a wee bit stretching in this comment or that statement. Mark Green, one-time McGovern operative, Democratic candidate for mayor of New York City in 2001, and old-style liberal, published a book in 1984 called Ronald Reagan's Reign of Error, a compilation of all sorts of erroneous statements Teh Gipper made during his long and illustrious political career. Sadly, the book was a paperback, and the binding glue failed years ago, but it was a fun little read, reminding me of the kind of person Ronald Reagan was. He enjoyed a good anecdote, a good story that sounded real. As atrios is want to say, facts are stupid things; they get in the way of a good punchline.

Today, it is much more difficult for a politician to lie. Not that they don't. With Google and other search engines, with literally millions of bloggers of any and all political stripe out there waiting to pounce, every tiny detail is given the closest scrutiny to ensure there aren't any statements at variance with the facts. Before sitting down with a reporter for an interview, or putting the earpiece in and getting pancaked before a camera, or sitting with a sycophant like Mike Wallace, it might be important to make sure the facts one has in one's mind are just that and not a steaming pile of poo.

It is for this reason that I am just astounded by John McCain's various performances during this past spring and summer. A day has not passed in which something he has said somewhere has not turned out to be flatly, irrevocably, unmistakably wrong. One would think that, being praised by the press as the best in the business, his Republican handlers would have noted this a while back and cautioned their candidate against making any statement that could be fact-checked. Maybe they would insist on it.

I think that is why I find this kind of thing so astounding. He just sits there and lies. He makes up excuses for not doing something he claims to support. He even manages to dismiss a point of fact as irrelevant.

Does he not realize how bad this makes him look? Does he not care?

Virtual Tin Cup

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