The “Straight Talk” Spin

September 16, 2008

Oh what a tangled web we weave…

It should be obvious by now that Senator John McCain’s version of “straight talk” is simply a frame for politics as usual. He has reversed course on so many issues that he often cannot remember just what his position is, or has been. Not only does this result in a plethora of conflicting statements from this would-be leader of the free world, but it highlights the serious detriment his age has on clear thinking, as is evident in the following clips:

Unintentional misstatements are certainly forgivable in a senior citizen, but is this someone we want running our nation? And several of the clips show an obvious intent to portray the situation in Iraq as much safer than it actually is by making blatant lies about the facts, then attempting to cover his tracks about as effectively as a toddler. How will he be able to communicate our foreign policy positions to the representatives of other nations if he can’t even keep his own personal policy commitments and the facts that surround them straight?

Now his tactics are becoming increasingly belligerent; attacking Obama with false and misleading claims that have even some republicans critical of such tactics. A recent article includes criticism from the likes of Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, Don Sipple, a Republican advertising strategist, Matthew Dowd, chief strategist of Bush’s 2004 campaign, and factcheck.org, a non-partisan group. Among the many misrepresentations uncovered by factcheck.org “A McCain-Palin TV ad accuses Obama of being “disrespectful” of Palin, but it distorts quotes to make the case.”  Even Karl Rove thinks McCain has “gone too far” in stretching the truth in his attacks of Obama.

When combined with Governor Palin’s misleading statements, especially regarding the Alaskan “bridge to nowhere”, and misunderstandings, such as the share of US oil that is produced in the State of Alaska, voters must wonder who they think they are fooling (other than themselves, of course). More importantly, it seems evident that McCain and Palin have no qualms about misrepresenting and misleading voters. One fact is clear; they are not even in the same league with Bush, Cheney, and Rove in such endeavours.

Now Obama is not entirely clean in this respect, but his misrepresentations regarding McCain and Palin are significantly less intense in both nature and frequency, such that they at least could appear to be inadvertent misunderstandings, though they may not be. In the news article previously mentioned, Don Sipple says, “Any campaign that is taking liberty with the truth and does it in a serial manner will end up paying for it in the end,” he said. “But it’s very unbecoming to a political figure like John McCain whose flag was planted long ago in ground that was about ‘straight talk’ and integrity.”

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4 Comments

Filed under McCain, Negative Campaigning

4 responses to “The “Straight Talk” Spin

  1. Diego Del Campo

    I submit to you that McCain bucking his own slogan is no different than Obama’s “Change you can Believe In.” A lot of people in class excused Obama traditional politico DNA (even though, he ran AND is running as a “new” kind of politician) because that’s how politics is.
    Is it really “Change” when you say you don’t take money from lobbyists, but in reality you openly admit that most of the time you have to. Is it “Change” to tell your supporters that you never had a plan to run for president, when the record shows otherwise.
    I don’t hate McCain for saying one thing and doing another, but I do find it troubling that a candidate is lying about saying one thing and doing another.

  2. Matthew Wolf

    Diego,

    I think the real difference here is that, while Obama has made some conflicting statements, McCain – in part due to his more substantial voting record – seems to be one giant conflict with what appear to have once been his own principles on issues like choice, campaign reform, and torture.

    Both candidates need to play the campaign game in order to have a chance win the election. There’s an old saying that you may like sausage but no one wants to see it made. Presumably the winner will have the opportunity to move our nation in directions that he feels collectively constitute the “right path” for America.

    In the case of Obama a fairly clear, though not sufficiently detailed, description of this path has been presented, and he has not strayed from it much, if at all. McCain has completely reversed so many policy positions in order to attract the conservative GOP base in support of his campaign that it seems clear his policy positions are not what he thinks is best for America, but best for his electoral chances.

    Now Obama may have also built his platform with electoral politics only in mind, but his limited record shows a determination to change the status quo, often opposing political and corporate influences and institutions.

    Sure, it’s possible that Obama could ultimately sell out, but McCain has already sold out in so many ways; he seems to blow with the wind and often can’t seem to remember where he stands now on particular issues.

  3. jr0marti

    I like this type of focus on the semantic wrestling match that each politicians engage in. As we learned in class we tolerate the politicians being politicians. We accept that politics is a dirty game. Spin is a as
    American as Apple I-pods. Lets face it “Straight talk” is another invention of the Architect Karl Rove yet “Hope” as The “Chosen One” puts it is “Change We Can Believe In.” I agree that McCain has sold out, especially to his base. Still I have an issue with Obama proclaiming “Change” while not taking a firm stand on many issues. You can’t really change anything if you do not what needs to be changed. Last thought one each candidate McCain’s is obliosuly a National icon if not hero but I can’t help but thinking we thought Al Gore was an android. As for Obama a campaign slogan of my own “if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

  4. Stephen Noriega

    It does seem disheartening that McCain seems to get away with this, especially considering the honest evaluations we must make. As I have said before, this is a competence/culpability issue. If McCain is purposely making these statements, he needs to be called on that. If he just does not know what he is saying, then he is not fit to be president.

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