September 8, 2008

Combatting Lies

There's a lot of outrage out there in the blogosphere, especially in comment threads, over McCain's and Palin's constant repetition of lies that have been repeatedly debunked.

For example, here's Mad as Hell at Swampland:

I want the Palin-McCain lies nailed and called out for what they are, lies. Obama has to do it as the media won't do it for him.

The frustration being expressed here is that they are being allowed to get away with blatant, bald, obvious lies, and nothing seems to happen to them. Having watched a campaign where Al Gore may well have lost because he was portrayed as an elitist liar, it is extremely painful to watch these people never get called on it. So there are complaints that since the media won't do it, Obama has to call out these lies.

But that would be a mistake. When atrios says they like to piss off liberals, this is part of what is going on when they brazenly lie. They want to make you mad. They want you to get into a big fight over 300 million dollar earmarks. They want you to start shouting "Liar!!  Liar!!".  They want to talk about pretty much anything other than the occupation, the collapse of the housing market, unemployment, falling real wages, global warming, the deficit and health care.  They want this to be about trivia and personalities.  So if Obama responds in-kind, he is falling into a trap.

This is particularly true about the campaign trying to label McCain/Palin as serial liars.  One of the central goals of Republican campaigns is to reinforce the idea that all politicians are alike--they all lie, they all make promises they won't keep, and they're all phonies.  That's why they love negative advertising. If their opponent doesn't respond in kind, the negative image sticks. If the opponent flings mud back, then that reinforces the idea that they're all the same, suppressing turnout.

There would be no better week for McCain than to have it spent with Axelrod and Black exchanging charges about the other side being liars.

Only the media can call out the lies. If the media won't do it, then it won't get done.  The facts are out there.  Obama's sardonic, consistent association of McCain and Bush is a much more effective message than getting sucked into a debate about lies over earmarks. 


Obama is calling McCain out on the falseness of the Maverick brand, and on the Bridge to Nowhere:


Paul Dirks said...

2nd try:

While you're certainly correct that getting into a pi$$ing match over lies can seriously distract from some of the serious issues that are at stake in this campaign, you must admit that Obama is doing a better job and knocking some of the worst stuff down than Kerry was ever able to manage.

Have you noticed that Corsi has pretty much fallen off the radar? At this time 4 years ago IIRC, he was just getting started!

Mad As Hell said...

Hi Jay:

Remember Brian Williams furtively reading Joe Klein's comments at the RNC about what Obama needed to do about the lies? Don't you think that was a message that the media would not do it?

The lie about the taxes is crucial to nail down.

Jay Ackroyd (@jayackroyd) said...

Yes, Paul, I think Obama's been doing a much better job. I also think he's adopting the perfect dismissive, lightly sardonic tone when the media people try to get under his skin with McCain "attacks."

"I've been called worse things on the basketball court" was perfect. And the sunday gasbag session was close to perfect.

ivb said...

It is so difficult to keep calm and focused on the goal. I think you're right about Obama keeping above it. He did attack her qualifications a bit yesterday on This Week. George S. seemed a bit frustrated that he couldn't get a rise out of Obama.

Listening to NPR discussing Hillary's campaigning in FL today. In her talk she discussed issues and pointed out she didn't hear them at the Rep conv. Got off a couple of good one liners. She is quoted as saying she's not playing the attack dog because she doesn't think that's what's needed. She said Obama is on the right side of history.

Mr. Nice Guy said...

I like the premise - it's needed to save what's left of the truth - but what we need is a vehicle. The MSM has us over a barrel; they have all of the exposure, but very little of the truth.

Too bad we can't form our own news agency / CNN-type channel to get a more accurate message out there.

PS. Good work on the blog. I like it, so far.

stuart_zechman said...

You know, Jay, that's a pretty decent rationale for the Obama campaign holding back on calling John McCain a dirty fucking liar who's betrayed his principles, a serial fraud, and a bad human being all around.

There's just one thing, though...doesn't your rationale seem sort of like the Kerry campaign's non-response to being taunted, branded a coward and a liar by Swift Boat campaign, and called all kinds of names (along with his wife)?

Didn't the American people kind of respond to Kerry's non-response by concluding that, having not stood up for himself, he couldn't be relied upon to stand up for them?

Jay Ackroyd (@jayackroyd) said...

Yes, Stuart, that's the counter argument. I think the middle road they're walking now, in calling out specific inaccuracies may be the best response. The clip in the update takes what might be a compromise position. Rebut specific lies about specific claims with facts.