The "Straight Talk Express" has detoured into doublespeak.
Republican presidential nominee John McCain, a self-proclaimed tell-it-like-it-is maverick, keeps saying his running mate, Sarah Palin, killed the federally funded Bridge to Nowhere when, in fact, she pulled her support only after the project became a political embarrassment. He accuses Democrat Barack Obama of calling Palin a pig, which did not happen. He says Obama would raise nearly everyone's taxes, when independent groups say 80 percent of families would get tax cuts instead.
Even in a political culture accustomed to truth-stretching, McCain's skirting of facts has stood out this week. It has infuriated and flustered Obama's campaign, and campaign pros are watching to see how much voters disregard news reports noting factual holes in the claims.
What we're seeing is the beginnings of a new, campaign-ending narrative: McCain, the former straight-talking maverick, losing his moral compass as he is corrupted by the lust for power. It probably won't start affecting his numbers for another week or two, and not unless this narrative appears in other places as well, but if other media figures start talking about McCain like this, he'll be in real trouble.
But don't worry, John: you'll always have Tom Brokaw.
Meanwhile, the AP also reported on Palin's first interview with Charles Gibson. If you saw the interview, you don't need me to tell you it did not go well:
John McCain running mate Sarah Palin sought Thursday to defend her qualifications but struggled with foreign policy, unable to describe President Bush's doctrine of pre-emptive strikes against threatening nations and acknowledging she's never met a foreign head of state.
The Republican vice presidential nominee told Charles Gibson of ABC News in her first televised interview since being named to the GOP ticket that "I'm ready" to be president if called upon. However, she sidestepped on whether she had the national security credentials needed to be commander in chief.
In case you're not wigged out by her already, when asked specifically whether she would start a hot war with Russia over Georgia, she said:
If elected, she will be a 72-year-old heartbeat away from the nuclear button. Then again, if you remember, John McCain was essentially agitating for the same thing with his "We're all Georgians now" crap.
The Washington Post is growing a little disenchanted with McCain's assurances that she knows what she's talking about as well. Apparently, Palin opening her mouth tends to do that:
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska, Sept. 11 -- Gov. Sarah Palin linked the war in Iraq with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, telling an Iraq-bound brigade of soldiers that included her son that they would "defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans."
The idea that the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein helped al-Qaeda plan the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a view once promoted by Bush administration officials, has since been rejected even by the president himself. But it is widely agreed that militants allied with al-Qaeda have taken root in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion.
Good Lord, is there a more thoroughly and publicly discredited misconception that we've seen in the last decade?