We are in the midst, of course, of the final sprint in the white house race. Various claims are flying around like notes in an orchestral warm up. Discordant and confusing...to be sure. But the McCain campaign is far ahead in the title for the most egregiously misleading contentions. The bent towards dis-information and fear mongering have disturbing implications.
Mr. McCain has found himself under particularly heavy fire for a pair of headline-grabbing attacks. First the McCain campaign twisted Mr. Obama’s words to suggest that he had compared Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, to a pig after Mr. Obama said, in questioning Mr. McCain’s claim to be the change agent in the race, “You can put lipstick on a pig; it’s still a pig.” (Mr. McCain once used the same expression to describe Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s health plan.)
Then he falsely claimed that Mr. Obama supported “comprehensive sex education” for kindergartners (he supported teaching them to be alert for inappropriate advances from adults).
Those attacks followed weeks in which Mr. McCain repeatedly, and incorrectly, asserted that Mr. Obama would raise taxes on the middle class, even though analysts say he would cut taxes on the middle class more than Mr. McCain would, and misrepresented Mr. Obama’s positions on energy and health care. He incessantly bleats the tired Republican argument that under a Democrat administration we will see taxes raised and un-checked spending on social entitlement programs, all of which will lead to losses in jobs. (Of course he omits the fact that we have just recorded the sixth consecutive uptick in the unemployment rate which stood at 6.1% in August). But back to the record on spending. We must remember, the so-called conservatives elected George W. Bush president because he promised to spend less than the liberals who opposed him. Bush promised a humble and restrained federal government. He said he would refrain from foreign adventures and "nation building." What a tragic joke. According to the latest figures, the Bush administration spent more money (as a percentage of GDP) than any U.S. government since World War II. (For an excellent explanation of the Republican supply side economics read this article. As for being restrained and humble, well, he wiretapped Americans without warrants, built secret CIA prisons around the world, suspended habeas corpus, and tortured prisoners – not to mention he repeatedly denied all of these activities.
In keeping with Bush's legacy of misleading the American people Senator McCain and the GOP has run a particularly viscious and distoring campaign. In other words, it is definitely more of the same.
What are the implications? Our society seems to be in the midst of a political free-for-all, where each interest group demands more and more from a pie that's getting smaller. Sadly, I suspect this leads us to become easy prey for the spin-mongers at the GOP. After all, they have been masters at waggin the dog for eight years. From the Nixon years they learned how not to do it. They have mastered the art of pursuasion by fear and negative pschology. By the time the fighting is over, there won't be much left for truly patriotic citizens who see through this woven veil of fabrications. Welcome to Amerika, comrades.
update: See Krugman's "Blizzard Of Lies" at the N.Y. Times