The Politics of Lying

Pinnochio"Politicians have never been known for telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, but generally when caught exaggerating the truth they usually stop. This year things seem to be different," observes Andrew Tanenbaum of "For example, Sarah Palin has said over and over that she never requested any earmarks as governor. That is patently false. She requested $450 million in earmarks and got most of it. Although Congress wouldn't finance the bridge to nowhere, Palin got to keep the money anyway and spend it on other projects. When called on this, a McCain spokesman, Brian Rogers said 'We're running a campaign to win.' In other words, we don't care what the media think. Michael Cohen has a column in the NY Times about lying anno 2008. Ruth Marcus has one on what an economist called 'the symmetry of sin.' The idea is that if a reporter criticizes McCain or Palin for lying, they have an obligation to criticize Obama or Biden for lying, too. But she argues that it is not symmetric this year. Obama has been stretching the truth a little bit like quoting McCain on staying in Iraq for 100 years (which he did say) but leaving out the part where he compared it to the U.S. military presence in Germany for 60 years. In contrast, McCain and Palin have told out-and-out lies (e.g., about how Obama would raise everyone's taxes, something he never said) and repeated them even after they were pointed out numerous times." As David Corn points out, the "strategic goal" of these attacks is "to keep Obama pinned down. Should the Obama campaign waste time knocking down these purposeful errors and excessive spin? That would be letting McCain shape the debate to his advantage. But if the campaign allows this stuff to hit the wall -- and maybe stick -- the McCain mob wins."


I guess Ronald Reagan had it about right when it comes to politics with these words: "It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first".