Richard Cohen on McCain’s tactic of lying.

We’re starting to see the wheels come off of the Straight Talk Express. I long admired McCain as the sort of guy with whom I’d agree about little, but respect for his honesty and frankness. But gradually, over the last couple of years, I saw him turn his back on his beliefs without explanation (and often, denying that he’d changed his mind at all). Now he and his campaign have begun lying, openly and repeatedly. That’s a terribly dangerous tactic when coupled with the McCain campaign’s new tactic, announced loudly at the convention a couple of weeks ago—attacking the media as unfair and biased. What McCain had going for him for years was that many liked and admired him. He provided an amazing level of access to reporters, talking with them candidly, one-on-one, at length. That practice ended a few months ago, and the campaign has openly declared war on the media that made McCain’s image as a “maverick.” McCain and Palin are hoping that they can lie—openly, brazenly, and repeatedly—and that the average voter won’t catch on between now and November.

Richard Cohen writes about this transition in the Post, in what I think marks an important moment in the McCain campaign’s relationship with the media. If McCain was disappointed with himself for lying during the 2000 campaign, he’ll be crushed for his behavior this time around. I certainly expected better.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

8 replies on “Richard Cohen on McCain’s tactic of lying.”

  1. I heard that, when asked about all the “fabrications” from the campaign, one of McCain’s top functionaries said something on the order of “So what. We intend to win.” Unfortunately, far too many of the general public, not having paid any attention, appear to believe the lies, or think it’s “just politics,” and absorb the lies through reptition (if you believe the polls). Think it’s bad now? Just wait until the Swift Boaters begin spewing forth their sludge.

  2. Stop the presses! An op-ed in the WaPo portrays a Republican in an unsavory light? Shocker!

    In all seriousness, this piece is one more glaring example of why a super-majority of Americans believes recognizes that the mainstream media is pulling out all the stops to get Obama elected.

  3. What stops are to be pulled? Are they lies or not? And if you don’t recognize that simple fact, what does that say about you?

    I am getting tired of listening to how someone, anyone, is responsible for telling the truth. There’s your real shocker.

  4. Publius, as usual, is either being dishonest or is completely uninformed. Anyone who reads the Washington Post knows 1) the general liberal bias of which it has been accused of having is long long gone, and 2) that Richard Cohen in particular has been a reliable apologist for his friend John McCain. That this was written by *Cohen* is what makes it so remarkable.

    (Next up: Publius takes on that liberal WaPo water carrier, Howie Kurtz . . .)

  5. Give the guy a break. I don’t think he realizes he’s lying. John McCain is a senile old man who can’t remember how many houses he owns or what kind of car he drives or whether Vladimir Putin is the President of Germany or Prime Minister of Russia. When he says that ‘Sarah Palin is the foremost energy expert in America,’ I think he might actually believe it.

    He’s a confused old man whose campaign is now out of the hands of his long-time loyal aides and has been taken over by former Bush campaign people. They tell him what to say and who to say it to and he does as he’s told and I don’t think he has any idea what is going on any more.

    People with Alzheimers disease need compassion and help. Not insults.

  6. From Cohen’s column:

    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.

    If Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly got together to endorse Barack Obama, Publius would hold it up as an example of liberal media bias. The real benefit of Publius’ uninformed ranting is that it reminds me that there were Republican koolaide drinkers long before anyone accused Obama’s most fervent supporters of being a little too fervent. Also: it lets me practice my eye-rolling.

  7. Cohen simply voices the self-evident hypocrisy of a man who pointedly portrayed himself as above this sort of thing:

    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.

    You either viscerally understand this, or you willfully ignore the reality of it all: McCain broke.

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