So Many Lies
McCain has to use them to win this race at all costs ...
The precise moment of McCain's abasement came, would you believe, not at some news conference or on one of the Sunday shows but on "The View," the daytime TV show created by Barbara Walters. Last week, one of the co-hosts, Joy Behar, took McCain to task for some of the ads his campaign has been running. One deliberately mischaracterized what Barack Obama had said about putting lipstick on a pig - an Americanism that McCain himself has used in the past. The other asserted that Obama supported teaching sex education to kindergartners.
"We know that those two ads are untrue," Behar said. "They are lies."
Freeze. Close in on McCain. This was the moment. He has largely been avoiding the press. The Straight Talk Express is now just a brand, an ad slogan like "Home Cooking" or "We Will Not Be Undersold." Until then, it was possible for McCain to say that he had not really known about the ads, that the formulation "I approve this message" was just boilerplate. But he didn't.
"Actually, they are not lies," he said.
Actually, they are.
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.
I am one of the journalists accused over the years of being in the tank for McCain. Guilty. Those doing the accusing usually attributed my feelings to McCain being accessible. This is the journalist-as-puppy school of thought: Give us a treat and we will leap into a politician's lap.
Not so. What impressed me most about McCain was the effect he had on his audiences, particularly young people. When he talked about service to a cause greater than oneself, he struck a chord. He expressed his message in words, but he packaged it in the McCain story - that man, beaten to a pulp, who chose honor over freedom. This had nothing to do with access. It had to do with integrity.
McCain has soiled all that. His opportunistic and irresponsible choice of Sarah Palin as his political heir - the person towhom he would leave the country - is a form of personal treason, a betrayal of all he once stood for. Palin, no matter what her other attributes, is shockingly unprepared to become President. McCain knows that. He means to win, which is all right; he means to win at all costs, which is not.
America has been cheated on too many times - the lies of Vietnam and Watergate and Iraq. So many lies.