Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lies and Damned Lies

I am watching this election between my fingers, peeking occasionally to see how stupid it has become. It has become immeasurably stupid. It is a neutral zone in which reality and fact have no meaning at all. This morning's big news story is that one of the candidates used the old expression "you can put lipstick on a pig - but it's still a pig" to describe Candidate B's platform. Candidate B is now crowing, "He called me a pig! Did you see that?? He called me a pig!"

Reminds me of my kindergarteners. Unfortunately, the press is only too willing to report lies without identifying them as such, even though it takes one click of a mouse on the internet to look up what was said and say, "Wait a minute..."

Which I did this morning about another story. A new ad by Candidate B says that Candidate A supported "sex education to kindergarteners...learning about sex before they can read!" Now why would I be suspicious of a claim like that?

The internet is a wonderful tool. It is very easy to look things up, like the actual bill. The bill, which passed through Candidate A's committee but did not even list him as a sponsor, and never became law, would have mandated that existing sex education programs be medically accurate.

Apparently it is necessary to write laws requiring that sex education programs contain accurate information. Now that's a story.

So where do kindergarteners come in? Matter of fact, no one was advocating detailed sex instruction for kindergarteners - as a sensible person would expect. It included a provision for teaching young children about appropriate and inappropriate touching, and how to seek help if they are touched inappropriately.

In other words, it was actually something highly responsible and necessary.

Now I am going to name names. Candidate B, whose campaign is advancing a monstrous lie about their opponent, is John McCain. It is profoundly sad to see the Arizona Senator running a campaign so bereft of honesty and "straight talk." John McCain and his family were the victims of political smears by candidate George W. Bush in 2000, and now McCain has completely gone to dark side of vapid, dishonest, smear politics.

He might win the election with these tactics, because negative politics work. Sadly, the American public is not very diligent about checking out these claims, and they are easily swayed by emotional arguments and smears. It is a great fault in us.

Even if he does win, McCain has spent his personal honor and on some level I think he's got to know it. Although there will no endorsement of Barack Obama in this space, I credit his campaign with taking a higher road and attempting to discuss issues and policy ideas. The Republican Party, a distinguished and old political party, remains mired in the worst kind of politics.

I hope they aren't rewarded for it.

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