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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Ugly New McCain

By Richard Cohen

Following his loss to George W. Bush in the 2000 South Carolina primary, John McCain did something extraordinary: He confessed to lying about how he felt about the Confederate battle flag, which he actually abhorred. "I broke my promise to always tell the truth," McCain said. Now he has broken that promise so completely that the John McCain of old is unrecognizable. He has become the sort of politician he once despised.
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. The other asserted that Obama supported teaching sex education to kindergarteners.

"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 in whose hands 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.

At a forum last week at Columbia University, McCain said, "But right now we have to restore trust and confidence in government." This was always the promise of John McCain, the single best reason to vote for him. America has been cheated on too many times -- the lies of Vietnam and Watergate and Iraq. So many lies. Who believes that in Afghanistan last month, only five civilians were killed by the American military in an airstrike, instead of the approximately 90 claimed by the Afghan government? Not me. I first gave up on the military during Vietnam and then again when it covered up the death of Pat Tillman, the Army Ranger and former NFL player who was killed in 2004 by friendly fire.

McCain was going to fix all that. He was going to look the American people in the eyes and say, not me. I will not lie to you. I am John McCain, son and grandson of admirals. I tell the truth.

But Joy Behar knew better. And so McCain lied about his lying and maybe thinks that if he wins the election, he can -- as he did in South Carolina -- renounce who he was and what he did and resume his old persona. It won't work. Karl Marx got one thing right -- what he said about history repeating itself. Once is tragedy, a second time is farce. John McCain is both.

Original here

McCain Blasts Wall Street Failure, Neglects To Mention His Adviser Helped Cause It

As the news broke of the Lehman Brothers meltdown and the rest of the latest financial crisis, John McCain, speaking at a campaign rally in Florida on Monday, angrily declared,

We will never put America in this position again. We will clean up Wall Street. This is a failure.

And in a statement released by his campaign, McCain called for greater "transparency and accountability" on Wall Street.

If McCain wants to hold someone accountable for the failure in transparency and accountability that led to the current calamity, he should turn to his good friend and adviser, Phil Gramm.

As Mother Jones reported in June, eight years ago, Gramm, then a Republican senator chairing the Senate banking committee, slipped a 262-page bill into a gargantuan, must-pass spending measure. Gramm's legislation, written with the help of financial industry lobbyists, essentially removed newfangled financial products called swaps from any regulation. Credit default swaps are basically insurance policies that cover the losses on investments, and they have been at the heart of the subprime meltdown because they have enabled large financial institutions to turn risky loans into risky securities that could be packaged and sold to other institutions.

Lehman's collapse threatens the financial markets because of swaps. From Bloomberg:

Bond-default risk soared worldwide as the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. sparked concern than the $62 trillion credit-derivatives market will unravel....
Lehman, the fourth-largest securities firm until last week, has been one of the 10 largest counterparties in the market for credit-default swaps, according to a 2007 report by Fitch Ratings. The market, which is unregulated and has no central exchange where prices are disclosed, has been the fastest-growing type of so-called over-the-counter derivative, according to the Bank for International Settlements.
"The immediate problem is the derivative default swaps market, in which a plethora of institutional accounts and dealer accounts are at risk,'' Bill Gross, manager of the world's largest bond fund at Pacific Investment Management Co. in Newport Beach, California, said in an interview with Bloomberg Radio yesterday. "It induces a tremendous amount of volatility and uncertainty.''

Barclays Capital analysts have estimated that if a financial institution with $2 trillion in credit-default swap trades were to fail, it might trigger between $36 billion and $47 billion in losses for institutions that traded with the firm. So the Lehman fiasco--caused in part by the use of unregulated swaps--could lead to ruin elsewhere in the economy.

Gramm is responsible for the rise of the wild and woolly $62 trillion swaps market. And he was chairman of the McCain campaign and a top economic adviser for McCain--until he dismissed Americans worried about the economy as "whiners." After that comment, McCain dumped Gramm. But was Gramm truly excommunicated from McCain land? Last month, he attended a meeting of McCain's top supporters in Aspen, Colorado. And at a dinner that day, McCain singled out Gramm for praise. Last week, failed Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul revealed that Gramm, now an exec for Swiss banking giant UBS (which also lost billions of dollars due to subprime loans and swaps), had recently called him as part of a McCain effort to win Paul's endorsement. Paul turned Gramm down. (Both Gramm and Paul are Texas Republicans.) Gramm's Paul-courting effort seems to indicate that the fellow who has done much to cause the current financial troubles (and who was once considered a possible Treasury secretary should McCain win the White House) is back in the good graces of the McCain campaign.

Shortly after McCain promised he would "clean up" Wall Street, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, his running mate, appeared at a Colorado rally on Monday morning and proclaimed that "John McCain and I will put an end to the abuses in Washington and Wall Street that have resulted in this financial crisis." She promised a McCain administration would "reform the way Wall Street does business." (She was short on details and spent more time discussing Colorado sports stars from Alaska.) What neither she nor McCain has explained is how they plan to be able to reform Wall Street when they are being assisted by 177 lobbyists and the guy who greased the way to the current crisis with a backroom legislative maneuver. If McCain and Palin are serious about never putting America "in this position again," they ought to consider seriously writing down any economic advice they get from Phil Gramm.
******

By the way, both McCain and Palin decried golden parachutes for CEOs. What might Carly Fiorina, a top McCain adviser and surrogate, think of that? She received a $21 million severance package when she was forced out as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, after her not-so-successful stint there--and the value of her golden parachute eventually reached $42 million.

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Palin cut funding for Alaska Special Olympics.

Campaigning in Colorado today, Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) promised renewed attention to kids with special needs. She declared, “Ever since I took the chief executive’s job up North I pushed for more funding for students with special needs,” and cited her own family’s experience with the issue. Watch it:

It’s a stretch to say she “pushed” for any policy improvements. Though Palin did sign a law increasing special education funding in Alaska, “she had no role whatsoever” in its development, according to the bill’s author, Rep. Mike Hawker (R). Moreover, as governor, Palin vetoed $275,000 in Special Olympics Alaska funds (Page 100, SB 221 with vetoes), slashing the organization’s operating budget in half.

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Vote John Mccain get more of the same | PIC

Obama: If you believe that, I've got a bridge in Alaska to sell you

Obama tries out a few new lines in Colorado, Carrie Budoff Brown reports:

"But now suddenly, John McCain says he is about change, too. He even started using some of my lines. Suddenly he says he wants 'to turn the page.' He had an ad today that he started running that he and Gov. Palin would bring the change that we need. He had this in an advertisement. Sound familiar? Let me tell you something, instead of borrowing my lines he needs to borrow our ideas," Obama said.

He followed up with a dig at lobbyists, saying "if you think those lobbyists are working day and night for John McCain just to put themselves out of business, well, then, I've got a bridge to sell you up in Alaska."

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McCain On 'Black Monday': Fundamentals Of Our Economy Are Still Strong

John McCain may want to refine his economic message a bit more during this potentially disastrous week for the financial sector.

On the campaign trail in Jacksonville, Florida, the Senator declared this morning that "the fundamentals of our economy are strong," despite what he described as "tremendous turmoil in our financial markets and Wall Street."

The line may seem like GOP boilerplate, save for the fact that this morning, the McCain campaign released a television ad that began: "Our economy is in crisis." Moreover, with financial and job markets in disarray, and with Lehman Brothers, the troubled investment bank, filing for bankruptcy, it may not be the wisest political message to tell voters that the fundamentals are a-okay.

"You know," said McCain, "there's been tremendous turmoil in our financial markets and Wall Street and it is -- people are frightened by these events. Our economy, I think, still the fundamentals of our economy are strong. But these are very, very difficult time. And I promise you, we will never put America in this position again. We will clean up Wall Street. We will reform government."

Many conservatives and McCain supporters have argued, against the prevailing sentiment, that despite Wall Street's failings, the economy is actually on firm footing. Donald Luskin, who described himself as "an adviser to John McCain's campaign," made such an argument in Sunday's Washington Post. But despite modest growth and relatively low unemployment rates, many economists see dire signs in today's economic landscape. On Sunday, former fed chairman Alan Greenspan said the market was the worst he had ever witnessed and predicted another major bank would close soon. Meanwhile, inflation is rising, real wages are declining, and the problems in the housing market persist.

McCain acknowledged, to various degrees, these topics in his Monday morning speech.

"I promise you we will never put America in this position again," McCain said. "This is a failure. We've got take every action to build an environment of robust energy supplies, lower inflation, control health care costs, access to international markets, low taxes and reduce burden of government to allow people to move forward toward a future of prosperity."

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John McCain's Journey From Maverick to Liar

There is a good reason why John McCain's campaign is having some trouble with truthiness these days.

McCain's claim to be a "maverick" rests on the liberal positions he took during the days when he openly fought with Republican leaders and the party's conservative base.

Because he cannot very well motivate Republicans by reminding them of the times he and they have quarreled, he has to distract and dissemble.

Think of the breaks that McCain has made with Republican orthodoxy.

He joined liberal Russ Feingold and pushed for campaign finance reform—conservatives loathed it.

He was a soldier with Al Gore in the fight against global warming—the oil industry and free market think tanks opposed them.

He and Ted Kennedy helped write a humane immigration bill—the GOP nativists despised him.

He joined with Bob Byrd and six other Democrats to kill a Senate Republican plan to pack the federal judiciary—abortion opponents were furious.

He sided with Tom Daschle's Democrats and voted against the Bush tax cuts—the antitax groups fumed.

He took on House and Senate Republicans who were trying to bring pork barrel spending to their states—the GOP majority went ballistic.

And he aligned himself with liberal groups like People for the American Way, when denouncing the clout of "evil" evangelical political leaders.

Actions like these endeared McCain to left-leaning journalists and independent voters who were alarmed by the influence of GOP social and religious conservatives. Even though he was voting with his fellow Republicans 85 percent of the time, McCain built a reputation as a maverick.

Yet, as they prepared for the 2008 presidential race, McCain's advisers knew they would have to woo those conservatives. And so they launched what they called "McCain 2.0" in 2007.

When Jon Stewart asked McCain last year, "Are you going into crazy base world?" the celebrated maverick acknowledged, "I'm afraid so."

McCain flip-flopped on the Bush tax cuts. He abandoned immigration reform. He reached out to Jerry Falwell and other religious conservatives.

It wasn't enough. And so, in a move that even one of his longtime advisers conceded (in a remark captured by an open microphone) was disturbingly "cynical," McCain gave the base Sarah Palin.

Palin was a smart pick. She juiced up the faithful and pleased the preachers, and the hoopla of her nomination eclipsed the inherent flaws of McCain 2.0.

But time moves on, and the Palin balloon has lost a little air as Americans have discovered she is a politician—given to flip-flops, fibs, abuse of power, wasteful spending, and the rest of the familiar roster of venal sins that come with the territory.

The focus is moving back to McCain, who has still not resolved the contradictions of his candidacy.

Is he truly a maverick who, like his self-proclaimed hero, Teddy Roosevelt, will govern as a progressive? Or will he be beholden, as folks like James Dobson and Rush Limbaugh insist, to the conservative base?

So far, the main "maverick" actions that McCain has promised as the next Republican president are to trim nonmilitary Democratic spending and continue the Iraq war. You can't get more conventional than that.

And even that message has been somewhat undermined by disclosures that Palin was a champion of those costly federal earmark projects she has lobbied for in Alaska—where, you know, you can see Russia.

At this point, McCain has taken the obvious way out—launching a series of distracting attacks on Barack Obama, with slim regard for truth.

The ads have spurred a backlash, the consequences (or lack) of which may well decide the election.

For 18 months, Obama has wagered all his chips on the (quaint? idealistic? brilliant?) idea that the American people are tired of the same old sleazy and divisive politics. McCain has now chosen to bet against him.

Original here

As Wall Street collapses, McCain declares that ‘the fundamentals of our economy are strong.’

Speaking in Florida this morning — the very day that two of Wall Street’s major banking institutions collapsed — Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) declared he “still” believes “the fundamentals of our economy are strong.” Watch it:

Though McCain noted that “these are very, very difficult times,” he seemed oblivious to today’s evidence of the crumbling foundations of the economy, with the Dow Jones industrial average dropping 300 points in the first 15 minutes of trading this morning. Yesterday, former Fed chief Alan Greenspan said this economy is the worst he has ever seen. (HT: Ben Smith)

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Palin Asked To Release Husband's Emails

Can Gov. Sarah Palin legally keep e-mails between her husband and her administration from being released to the public?


That's the question the lawyer of Andree McLeod, a self-described Republican watchdog, put to the governor last week in an appeal to disclose e-mails between her administration and her husband, Todd.

Those e-mails could shed light on how Gov. Palin, the Republican vice-presidential candidate, runs the state. And they could also help reveal what role Todd Palin, who the state Legislature's special investigator called a "central figure" in the governor's firing of former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan, played in his wife's administration.

...

In redacting or denying the request for e-mails, the governor's office mostly cited Gov. Palin's right to a "deliberative process privilege," a law designed to let public officials receive candid advice from their staff and consultants regarding matters of the state without fear of that advice going public.

But McLeod's lawyer, Donald Mitchell, said Gov. Palin waived that privilege when Todd Palin was included in her staff's e-mails. Documents released to one member of the public have to be available to all members of the public, he said.

The Anchorage Daily News delves into how Palin uses a private email account (and two BlackBerrys) to keep some work emails private.

Moments after Gov. Sarah Palin's first speech as Republican John McCain's running mate, she sat with her kids backstage, thumbing one of the two BlackBerrys that are always with her. You can see them in photographs from that day on the campaign blog of one of McCain's daughters.


The tech-savvy governor has one of the devices (which allow users to read and send e-mails) for state business, another for personal matters, but those worlds intertwine.

Palin routinely uses a private Yahoo e-mail account to conduct state business. Others in the governor's office sometimes use personal e-mail accounts too.

The practice raises questions about backdoor secrecy in an administration that vowed during the 2006 campaign to be "open and transparent."

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Gallup admits: it only releases likely voter results when they favor McCain!


The Gallup Daily Presidential tracking poll, which many of us follow more closely than we should, reports results based on a survey of registered voters. At some point in the future, Gallup is going to switch to likely voters for the tracking poll, but we don't know exactly when.

Just as Nate predicted over at 538, the Gallup tracking poll showed a stable, close race leading up to the conventions, then a bounce for Obama, and then a bounce for McCain that seems to be subsiding, though less quickly than Obama's. The longer-lasting effect of McCain's bounce is probably the result of his VP selection (and convention) stepping on Obama's, rather than any lasting shift in the race (despite what the pundits have rushed to conclude).

But I want to focus on the poll Gallup released last Monday, Sept. 8th, through USA Today, that used a sudden, unexplained, temporary shift to the likely voter model and caused a huge splash in the media.

That poll, taken in the three days immediately following the Republican National Convention, showed by far the largest national lead McCain has ever had in any poll (54-44 among likely voters), and generated a tremendous amount of attention. It helped drive the buzz for all of last week -- that McCain got a huge bounce from his convention, that Palin was a game-changer, that Obama was in big trouble, etc.

Notice that Gallup never released a likely voter poll over the three days immediately following the Democratic convention -- nor did it release any polls through USA Today during Obama's bounce. Putting it in USA Today guarantees far greater attention than the tracking poll alone gets.

This was a deliberate choice by Gallup and USA Today -- to release a poll that would maximize the impression of McCain's bounce and help shape the campaign narrative in favor of McCain-Palin's favor.

On Friday, Gallup published this report discussing the differences between registered and likely voters. Perhaps unintentionally, Frank Newport, the head of Gallup, made a huge admission that bears directly on the September 8th likely voter poll:

Second, we are at this point reporting likely voter estimates on only an occasional basis. We feel that the trends among registered voters give us the best way to track election preferences in our daily poll, in part because many voters are not yet in a position to accurately estimate their chances of voting on Election Day. But from time to time, we do estimate (and report) likely voter results to give us a feel for the potential difference turnout could make in November. So far this summer, there have been occasions when -- as was the case this past weekend after the GOP convention -- likely voters were decidedly more Republican. But there have also been occasions when there was little difference between the vote patterns of likely voters and those of registered voters.

In other words, Gallup is admitting the following:

  1. At the time it released the September 8th poll (showing McCain up by 10), it believed institutionally that likely voter results were less accurate than registered voter results.
  1. Likely voter results have only occasionally diverged from the registered voter results.
  1. Despite these facts, Gallup deliberately chose to release, to the widest fanfare possible, a poll using an admittedly less accurate method (the likely voter method) at the time of McCain's maximum convention bounce, knowing that it would show a large divergence (+10 for McCain vs. only +4 with registered voters) based on the likely voter method, even though such a divergence is not often present.
  1. In short, they combined all possible factors in McCain's favor to make his lead seem as big as possible -- and the media went wild with it.

This is why DailyKos's tracking poll is such an important service to the country, and indeed to the world. Markos cannot be thanked enough for giving the world its one true "people's poll." It is the people's poll not because it favors Democrats -- it doesn't. It is the people's poll because it is transparent. It releases the internals every day. Instead of just setting forth party ID "targets," as Rasmussen does, the DailyKos poll simply tells the reader for each sample, exactly what proportion of Ds, Rs, and Is, were polled. And unlike Gallup, it doesn't switch from registered to likely voter models at opportune times to get attention and reshape the race.

Gallup wants attention and it wants to influence the election. We need to take back our process and DailyKos is helping with its honest, open tracking poll.

UPDATE: Wow! Top of the rec list! My first time. Thank you all so much for the recommendations.

This election is very, very close right now. Let's all keep up the fight, donate, work, and never let Gallup or Rasmussen or any pollster get us down!

UPDATE 2: Thanks to itswhatson, you can DIGG this diary if you're so inclined.

Original here

Rove: McCain went 'too far' in ads

(CNN) -- Former Bush adviser Karl Rove said Sunday that Sen. John McCain had gone "one step too far" in some of his recent ads attacking Sen. Barack Obama.

Karl Rove said both candidates are guilty of going too far in their attacks.

Karl Rove said both candidates are guilty of going too far in their attacks.

Rove has leveled similar criticism against Obama.

"McCain has gone in some of his ads -- similarly gone one step too far," he told Fox News, "and sort of attributing to Obama things that are, you know, beyond the '100 percent truth' test."

The Obama campaign immediately leaped on the quote.

"In case anyone was still wondering whether John McCain is running the sleaziest, most dishonest campaign in history, today Karl Rove -- the man who held the previous record -- said McCain's ads have gone too far," said campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor, in a statement sent to reporters minutes after Rove's on-air comments. Rove masterminded both of President Bush's successful White House bids.

Rove said both candidates need to "be careful" about their attacks on each other.

"They ought to -- there ought to be an adult who says, 'Do we really need to go that far in this ad? Don't we make our point and won't we get broader acceptance and deny the opposition an opportunity to attack us if we don't include that one little last tweak in the ad?' " he said.

Obama on Saturday accused McCain and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin of avoiding the issues to "distort" his record.

"They're going to talk about pigs, and they're going to talk about lipstick; they're going to talk about Paris Hilton, they're going to talk about Britney Spears. They will try to distort my record, and they will try to undermine your trust in what the Democrats intend to do," he said at a stop in Manchester, New Hampshire.

McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds criticized Obama for showing "zero restraint," considering what Gulf Coast residents were facing after Hurricane Ike. Bounds said the "attacks mark a new low from Barack Obama."

The Obama campaign shot back and accused McCain of "cynically running the sleaziest and least honorable campaign in modern presidential campaign history."

McCain said last week that he thinks the tone of the campaign would be different had Obama agreed to appear with him in town hall meetings across the country.

Both McCain and Obama laid low on Sunday. McCain attended a NASCAR race in Loudon, New Hampshire.

Obama had no public events scheduled, but Sen. Hillary Clinton hit the trail for him in Akron, Ohio.

Clinton repeated her campaign one-liner -- "No way, no how, no McCain, no Palin."

The New York senator said "all that McCain and Palin offer is four more years of the same failed policies and wrong direction and disappointment and difficulties that have confronted our country."

"Barack and I may have started out on two separate paths, but we are on one journey now," she said.

Meanwhile, the Obama campaign announced Sunday that it had raised $66 million in August. The new total bests the campaign's previous high of $55 million, which came in February during his tough primary fight with Clinton.

The Obama campaign said more than half a million new donors contributed in August, when the Illinois senator accepted the Democratic presidential nomination and named Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware as his running mate. The campaign had more than $77 million in cash on hand at the end of August, compared with about $66 million in July.

On September 1, McCain's campaign reported raising $47 million in August. That haul also set a monthly record for the Arizona senator, whose campaign says it received a financial shot in the arm after McCain picked Palin to join the ticket.

Obama has rejected public financing, calling the system "broken" -- a decision that frees him to continue raising money for November.

McCain has accepted federal matching funds for his general election campaign, giving him $84 million to spend for November. The money comes with strict spending limits, but the Republican National Committee's victory fund can continue to raise and spend money on his behalf.

With Palin on the campaign trail, McCain has been seeing increased numbers and energy at his campaign events.

The two will hold joint town hall meetings sometime early this week.

A McCain adviser said early plans are to hold the town halls in western Michigan and Wisconsin, although the exact details of where and when they will be held are still being worked out.

Original here

The Ugly New McCain

By Richard Cohen

Following his loss to George W. Bush in the 2000 South Carolina primary, John McCain did something extraordinary: He confessed to lying about how he felt about the Confederate battle flag, which he actually abhorred. "I broke my promise to always tell the truth," McCain said. Now he has broken that promise so completely that the John McCain of old is unrecognizable. He has become the sort of politician he once despised.
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. The other asserted that Obama supported teaching sex education to kindergarteners.

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"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 in whose hands 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.

At a forum last week at Columbia University, McCain said, "But right now we have to restore trust and confidence in government." This was always the promise of John McCain, the single best reason to vote for him. America has been cheated on too many times -- the lies of Vietnam and Watergate and Iraq. So many lies. Who believes that in Afghanistan last month, only five civilians were killed by the American military in an airstrike, instead of the approximately 90 claimed by the Afghan government? Not me. I first gave up on the military during Vietnam and then again when it covered up the death of Pat Tillman, the Army Ranger and former NFL player who was killed in 2004 by friendly fire.

McCain was going to fix all that. He was going to look the American people in the eyes and say, not me. I will not lie to you. I am John McCain, son and grandson of admirals. I tell the truth.

But Joy Behar knew better. And so McCain lied about his lying and maybe thinks that if he wins the election, he can -- as he did in South Carolina -- renounce who he was and what he did and resume his old persona. It won't work. Karl Marx got one thing right -- what he said about history repeating itself. Once is tragedy, a second time is farce. John McCain is both.

Original here

McCain Loses Fox News: Megyn Kelly Rips McCain Flack For Claiming Obama Would Raise Middle Class Taxes

On Fox News today, host Megyn Kelly called out McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds for the campaign’s lies about Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) tax proposals. “I want to hold you accountable for what McCain is doing,” said Kelly. “Has your candidate gone too far, has he stretched the truth with the voters?”

Bounds initially attempted to dismiss her question, claiming that McCain has simply “gone to great lengths to discuss Barack Obama’s record.” “It is true that during a struggling economy, he proposes raising taxes,” declared Bounds.

“Not on the middle class,” shot back Kelly, noting that “virtually every independent analyst” has said that the McCain campaign is lying:

KELLY: But you guys have suggested he’s going to raise taxes on the middle class and virtually every independent analyst who took a look at that claim said that’s not true. He’ll raise it on people making $200,000 or $250,000, but not the middle class.

Bounds tried to push back by saying that Obama had voted to raise taxes in the past, but Kelly kept pushing Bounds to admit the McCain campaign was lying. “If that’s false, why would John McCain do that, Tucker? Why wouldn’t he just level with the voters?” asked Kelly:

KELLY: Let’s stay on point, I’m not giving him any credit. I’m saying what the independent analysts say. They say that claim is false. And if that’s false, why would John McCain do that Tucker? Why wouldn’t he just level with the voters and say, “look, he’s going to raise taxes on the wealthy or whatever you consider somebody to be making over $250,000, it’s going to have a trickle down effect. That may not be good for the middle class.” But why say he’s going to raise taxes on the middle class when he’s not?

Watch it:

Kelly is right. Independent analysts such as FactCheck.org and PolitiFact have consistently called out the McCain campaign for misrepresenting Obama’s proposals. As the Tax Policy Center notes, Obama will actually cut taxes for the vast majority of Americans.

Even Karl Rove admits that McCain’s ads have gone “one step too far” in stretching the bounds of the truth.

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