Sunday, June 29, 2008

McCain makes the race personal, attacks Obama’s integrity

Steve Benen, The Carpetbagger Report: It was probably inevitable that John McCain would abandon his pledge to focus exclusively on the issues, and steer clear of personal attacks, I just didn’t expect it as early as June.

John McCain, in his sharpest attack yet against rival Barack Obama, said the Democratic presidential candidate’s word "cannot be trusted."
"This election is about trust — trust in people’s word," McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, told several hundred donors at a $2 million GOP fundraiser in Louisville, Kentucky yesterday. "And unfortunately, apparently on several items, Senator Obama’s word cannot be trusted."
McCain, a four-term Arizona senator, said Obama has gone back on his word by pledging to take public financing during the general election and then deciding not to do so. Obama on June 19 announced he won’t accept public financing for his presidential campaign, calculating that he can raise far more than the $84.1 million he would get in government funds. […]
[U]ntil yesterday McCain hadn’t accused Obama, 46, a first-term Illinois senator, of being untrustworthy. "I’ll keep my word to the American people. You can trust me," McCain said.
The irony, of course, is that McCain said Obama "cannot be trusted" to keep his word the exact same afternoon in which McCain broke his promise to voters on immigration policy, and abandoned his own “pledge” to the public.
If McCain wants to criticize Obama for bypassing the public-financing system, fine. It’s odd, of course, given McCain’s apparently illegal decision to play fast and loose with the public-financing system, but if he sees this as a key issue, it’s up to him to craft his own strategy.
But does John McCain really want to talk about which candidate “cannot be trusted”? Is this really an invitation to review the instances in which McCain has either lied to voters or broken his word?
We can make this campaign personal. It wouldn’t be pleasant, and it would make McCain look pretty bad, but if he wants to talk about honesty and character, we can go there.
I’m reminded of this recent Arianna Huffington item about McCain "issuing heartfelt denials of things that were actually true."
He denied ever talking with John Kerry about his leaving the GOP to be Kerry’s ‘04 running mate — then later admitted he had, insisting: "Everybody knows that I had a conversation."
He denied admitting that he didn’t know much about economics, even though he’d said exactly that to the Wall Street Journal. And the Boston Globe. And the Baltimore Sun.
He denied ever having asked for a budget earmark for Arizona, even though he had. On the record.
He denied that he’d ever had a meeting with comely lobbyist Vicki Iseman and her client Lowell Paxon, even though he had. And had admitted it in a legal deposition.
And those are just the outright denials. He’s also repeatedly tried to spin away statements he regretted making (see: 100-year war, Iraq was a war for oil, etc.).
Or for that matter, take a look at the Official McCain Flip-Flop List. Most of the 48 reversals include John McCain promising voters he wants to go in one direction, and then promising them soon after that he wants to go in a completely different direction. He has a habit of making one pledge, and soon after, making the opposite pledge.
Indeed, on Friday, McCain took credit for the passage of a veterans’ bill he opposed, and on Saturday, McCain vowed to a group of Latino voters that he’d support an immigration bill he’s vowed to oppose.
"On several items, Senator Obama’s word cannot be trusted"? I don’t have a background in psychology, but I’m pretty sure this is called "projection."

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