Not many years ago, John McCain tried to reform political campaigns. But now that he is a presidential candidate, he has morphed into the Kevin Trudeau of political commercials.
In 2004, the Federal Trade Commission fined Trudeau millions of dollars and banned him for life from producing or appearing in infomercials for promoting his dietary supplement that he claimed could cure cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, lupus and other illnesses.
Yesterday, The Washington Post’s E. J. Dionne wondered whether the truth matters any more in political campaigns, noting that McCain is "stooping to cheap advertising that would be condemned as trivial and misleading in a state legislative race.” Reddit.com was more direct than the ever-courtly Dionne: "Why is lying an acceptable tactic, asset, even, in campaigning for the most important job in the world?"
McCain wasted a lot of time trying to control big money in politics and got slapped down by the courts. He – and the country – would have been better off passing legislation allowing the FTC to fine political campaigns for promoting obvious falsehoods in their advertisements.
I'm not talking about claims where there are reasonable disputes. I am talking about statements, whether on the stump or in ads, that are so obviously a lie everyone knows it. Such as? Sarah Palin claiming she was always against the “Bridge to Nowhere” even though numerous video tapes show her supporting it strongly. No one could disagree over her flat-out lie.
Or that she sold a state jet on eBay when the state said it was sold through an airplane broker. Or when McCain says he will cut taxes while Obama’s would raise them even though the non-partisan Tax Policy Institute released an analysis stating the Democratic plan would reduce the tax bite for about 80% of all households. Or when McCain runs a thoroughly vile ad claiming Obama would force sex education on kindergarten students, citing a bill he voted for as a State Senator which simply allowed schools to warn young children about inappropriate touching and sexual predators.
Dionne rightly wonders whether McCain is against teaching small children how to avoid sexual predators.
Yet the hits just keep on coming.
Palin's false statement that she fired the chef in the Governor's Mansion when all she did was change the woman's title as she kept on cooking. And McCain's claim to know how to hunt down and kill Osama bin Laden. The list is disgustingly long.
If any of these claims were made in product ads, they’d be slapped down so fast by the FTC it would make the sponsor’s head swim. So if food and drug companies are barred from making false claims on public airwaves, shouldn't claims by someone who wants your vote for president be scrutinized for just as much veracity as Kevin Trudeau's informercials, given that a candidate's statement is just as vital a question for your health?
This is nothing new for McCain and his henchmen and women. Nor is it a recent campaign departure for McCain as this new Robert Greenwald video proves.
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