Saturday, September 20, 2008

Who's Your Prevaricator? (UPDATED)

(Since certain Swampers so strongly object to the word "lie" in describing politicians, I have rewritten this post to remove the l-word). I never knew the public was so solicitous about not hurting the feelings of politicians!)

Like Pinocchio, politicians prevaricate.
Instead of just looking at political prevarications one by one, it's time to do a comparison between Barack Obama and John McCain about their respective fibs, stretches of the truth and misleading statements. -- what they are, and how serious they are.

So I'm opening the floor for nominations. I'll examine the tall tales and come up with a comprehensive judgment of how badly each candidate has stretched the truth.

And I'll kick things off with the prevaricating palaver I think each candidate has told, directly or through their campaigns. I am going to count a fib told by a candidate's campaign as equal to one told directly.

His claims about not knowing of Jeremiah Wright's extreme anti-American views have to rank among the top truth-stretches. Obama was in his church for 20 years, and by Obama's own account was made a Christian, married and had his children baptized by Wright. And when Obama finally threw Wright under the bus, it was for statements Wright had made that were the same as he'd been making for years. And Wright said last year in a New York Times article that Obama had told him he'd have to distance himself politically from Wright in the election.

Obama also flatly said in 2004 that he would not run for president in 2008.

Obama promised to seek an agreement with McCain so they could both run publicly funded campaigns. When McCain offered earlier this year, Obama turned him down.

Obama has also shaded the truth about his close relationship with Tony Rezko, the crooked real estate mogul.

Worst of all, Obama has dissembled about the closeness of his friendship with unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers, who has never apologized for his role in bombings with the Weather Underground.

New Addition: says Obama told a "whopper" by saying McCain's Social Security plan would have put recipients' money in the stock market.

In Daytona Beach, Obama said that "if my opponent had his way, the millions of Floridians who rely on it would've had their Social Security tied up in the stock market this week." He referred to "elderly women" at risk of poverty, and said families would be scrambling to support "grandmothers and grandfathers."

That's not true. The plan proposed by President Bush and supported by McCain in 2005 would not have allowed anyone born before 1950 to invest any part of their Social Security taxes in private accounts. All current retirees would be covered by the same benefits they are now.

Obama would have been correct to say that many workers under age 58 would have had some portion of their Social Security benefits affected by the current market turmoil – if they had chosen to participate. And market drops would be a worry for those who retire in future decades. But current retirees would not have been affected.

New addition: Obama's campaign may be linked to a series of lies and smears of Sarah Palin, according to the Jawa Report.

Extensive research was conducted by the Jawa Report to determine the source of smears directed toward Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Those smears included false allegations that she belonged to a secessionist political party and that she has radical anti-American views.

Our research suggests that a subdivision of one of the largest public relations firms in the world most likely started and promulgated rumors about Sarah Palin that were known to be false. These rumors were spread in a surreptitious manner to avoid exposure.

It is also likely that the PR firm was paid by outside sources to run the smear campaign. While not conclusive, evidence suggests a link to the Barack Obama campaign.

The research is pretty detailed. While short of absolute proof, it very strongly suggests an "Astroturf" campaign of the sort Obama media strategist David Axelrod, a PR flack, specializes in.

McCain claims to oppose lobbyists, and not to get advice from them yet his campaign staff is full of lobbyists. Campaign manager Rick Davis co-founded a lobbying firm, and McCain has dozens of lobbyists on his staff. (They don't lobby while working for McCain, but that's their profession before, and likely, after).

McCain has claimed a number of accomplishments for running mate Palin that are not factual. Among them, selling the governor's jet on eBay for a profit, that she told Congress that Alaska didn't need the Gravina Island bridge, and that Palin had never asked for earmarks for Alaska. (She asked for nearly $200 million this year).

Some of McCain's ads attacking Obama have been not entirely truthful -- according to Karl Rove!

So this is my starter list. These, just off the top of my head, show Obama as having told bigger fibs and prevarications than McCain -- but with his tall tales about Sarah Palin, McCain may be catching up. Still, I don't want to lend a sense of false equivalency. Obama's factually challenged statements are worse, because they are fundamental falsehoods about his own life and political beliefs. McCain's truth-stretchers about Palin are more in the line of puffing up credentials that were positive, if a bit thin.

Add your own favorite prevarications in the comments, and let's do a comparison!

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