Tuesday, September 23, 2008

John McCain lies
Does it matter?


Over the last couple of weeks, many pundits have agreed on one point about John McCain and his campaign. The man lies. And since his basic pitch to voters is that, as a former POW he is a uniquely honorable man, this upsets observers, especially those who have known him.

Ideological differences aside, John McCain's campaign has been more dishonest, more unfair, more -- to use a word that resonates with McCain -- dishonorable than Barack Obama's. ...

McCain's transgressions, though, are of a different magnitude. His whoppers are bigger; there are more of them. He -- the easy out would be to say "his campaign" -- has been misleading, and at times has outright lied, about his opponent. He has misrepresented -- that's the charitable verb -- his vice presidential nominee's record. Called on these fouls, he has denied and repeated them.

Ruth Marcus,
Washington Post,
Sept. 16, 2008

McCain has turned ugly. His dishonesty would be unacceptable in any politician, but McCain has always set his own bar higher than most. He has contempt for most of his colleagues for that very reason: They lie. He tells the truth. He internalizes the code of the McCains -- his grandfather, his father: both admirals of the shining sea. He serves his country differently, that's all -- but just as honorably. No more, though. ...

McCain has soiled all that.

Richard Cohen,
Washington Post,
Sept. 15, 2008

When Bush, issued a “signing statement” in 2006 on McCain’s hard-fought legislation placing prohibitions on torture, saying he would interpret the measure as he chose, McCain barely uttered a peep. And then, in 2006, in one of his most disheartening acts, McCain supported a “compromise” with the administration on trials of Guantanamo detainees, yielding too much of what the administration wanted, and accepted provisions he had originally opposed on principle. Among other things, the bill sharply limited the rights of detainees in military trials, stripped habeas corpus rights from a broad swath of people “suspected” of cooperating with terrorists, and loosened restrictions on the administration’s use of torture. ...

McCain’s caving in to this “compromise” did it for me. This was further evidence that the former free-spirited, supposedly principled, maverick was morphing into just another panderer – to Bush and the Republican Party’s conservative base. ...

McCain’s recent conduct of his campaign – his willingness to lie repeatedly (including in his acceptance speech) and to play Russian roulette with the vice-presidency, in order to fulfill his long-held ambition – has reinforced my earlier, and growing, sense that John McCain is not a principled man.

Elizabeth Drew,
former New Yorker correspondent and McCain biographer

Oddly enough, given the last several months, it's genuinely hard to tell when McCain is being dishonest and when he's being incompetent.

Steve Benen,
Washington Monthly, September 14, 2008


I respected McCain’s willingness to support the troop surge in Iraq, even if it was going to cost him the Republican nomination. Now the same guy, who would not sell his soul to win his party’s nomination, is ready to sell every piece of his soul to win the presidency.

Thomas Friedman,
New York Times, September 14, 2008

This is quite a catalog of judgments against McCain. These people are not the radical left. These are centrist journalists with long experience of watching politicians. And they are appalled by John McCain's current behavior.

Sissela Bok is a Swedish-born philosopher and ethicist who literally wrote the book on deceit, Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life. She defines lying as follows:

A lie is a statement, believed by the liar to be false, made to another person with the intention that the person be deceived by the statement.

The Washington Independent thought to ask Bok about McCain's string of false claims.

"I don’t think people understand how much it damages them," Bok said on the telephone from her home in Cambridge, "maybe not in the short run. In the short run, the cost of integrity, for instance, it might not seem to matter. But they have to understand that when they lie simply to win an election, they must be prepared to sacrifice their self-respect.

"Moreover, they’re doing harm to society," Bok said, "Once people have the notion that people in public service are all dishonest, the whole profession of public service, or journalism, is damaged. Everyone is seen as dishonest -- when we know there are good, honest people who choose to serve in public duty, in public life."

McCain certainly is showing he's no maverick. Like Bush and the rest of the gang we've been stuck with for the last eight years, he is willing to tear up the foundations of public trust for his personal gain.

Maybe he should have worked on Wall Street?

3 comments:

johnieb said...

It's good to learn that Drew, one of the best reporters ever, IMRVHO, is writing a biography of McCain.

The more I learn about McCain, the less I think the word "honorable" ever applied to him. He is a treacherous, deceitful, scheming thug.

LadyLuz said...

Great post and great blog. Must take time to trawl through the great variety of topics and links.

first50 said...

It isn't the lie that scares me. It's the fact that so many voters believe the lie. Even when the press is full of evidence that he lies.

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