I don't think there's been a single significant claim made by McCain, Palin or anyone associated with the campaign in the past three weeks that hasn't been highly deceptive if not an outright lie.
And seriously, it's hard to keep up with all those lies. Even the full-time bloggers can’t. (Your habit of repeating the same debunked and ineffective smears over and over does make it a bit easier, though.)
Let's take one example. Anyone who accuses Obama of being a "socialist" is either an ignoramus or a liar. Or a combination of both.
See also, hmm, lessee, Hilzoy 1, Hilzoy 2, Hilzoy 3, Hendrik Hertzberg, Digby 1, Digby 2, Maha, Thers, Driftglass 1, Driftglass 2, David Gergen and Stephen Colbert. Plus maybe some basic history or political science books.
Look, I know this socialist smear crap, fear-mongering and demonizing has gone on for a very long time. But this stuff is really pathetic. It has all the integrity of Ann Coulter and Jonah Goldberg, if that. And this is a presidential campaign.
Driving home Thursday night, I heard key McCain advisor Nicole Wallace on NPR first try to dodge a question several times, then offer a horrible analogy. Then I learned via John Cole that this same horrible analogy has been circulating in a GOP forwarded e-mail and in recycled "letters" to the editor. Now, I wouldn't be surprised if some GOP operation started the chain e-mail, which is sad enough, but otherwise, much as they abruptly made "Joe the Plumber" a centerpiece of their campaign, the McCain gang is now taking their talking points from anonymous e-mails. Did I mention it's pathetic?
Still, all that pales besides this TV appearance by Michael Goldfarb. Keep in mind he's the deputy communications director for the McCain campaign, paid to blog for him, and normally works for neocon rag The Weekly Standard:
That may be the weakest performance I've ever seen. Palin's interviews come close. But Goldfarb definitely makes the Hall of Infamy.
John Cole calls it "douchebaggery." Publius calls it the "Platonic ideal of d***ness." Several people rightly call Goldfarb's smears McCarthyism.
CNN already debunked the smears against Rashid Khalidi, and Scott Horton points out that McCain actually has stronger ties to Khalidi than Obama does, but since Khalidi is an admirable figure, that's hardly an issue. As Horton points out, the crux is that:
Khalidi is also a Palestinian American. There is no doubt in my mind that it is solely that last fact that informs [Andrew] McCarthy’s ignorant and malicious rants.
Seriously. Because Khalidi is a Palestinian American, Goldfarb, Palin and others are implying - or in some cases, outright accusing - Khalidi of being anti-Semitic. It's amazingly sleazy, but completely believable from this crew.
Rick Sanchez should have challenged Goldfarb to support his outrageous accusation against Khalidi, but give him some credit for pressing Goldfarb, and some leeway for being thrown by Goldfarb's ludicrous responses.
But I also don't see any point in being polite with Goldfarb at the end other than the bare minimum (some commenters think Sanchez was being sarcastic). I understand you can't call him a lying asshole on television, but that's precisely what he is. There simply has to be a way to call him out more forcefully. Maybe there were time restraints here, and Sanchez certainly wasn't expecting this. But Goldfarb is offering absolutely nothing of value. It's preposterous to pretend he's speaking in good faith. He is a smug asshole who can't even lie effectively. He's trying to scare Jews away from voting for Obama. That's it. That's all. And it does the public a grave disservice to give Goldfarb a platform unless on that platform he is hammered in a conscientious, prosecutorial fashion and he leaves (metaphorically) crying and bleeding. What Goldfarb did was unconscionable and immoral. The faults of the MSM are well known in the liberal blogosphere (more on this in "The Bullshit Matrix" and "False Equivalencies"). Their main motive is profit. But there's certainly commercial value in ripping a scoundrel to shreds on TV (the problem is the person probably won't come back). The MSM has to have a way – or has to be pushed to have a way for the public's sake – of holding scumbags like Goldfarb accountable. Sheppard Smith was actually quite good at challenging ignoramus "Joe the Plumber" when he tried something similar. There has to be a steep cost for lies and smears like this. At the very least, Goldfarb should be made a laughing stock. He's certainly helped that goal with a performance that would be perfect for a series called "Hackdom Don'ts." Now this video has to spread, and the chattering class needs to start chattering and do what they do best – clucking disapproval. The despicable tactics of Lee Atwater and Karl Rove will always be tried until the shit they're flinging is made to bounce back on them and everyone can tell who's stinking.
And that's one of many reasons this election is exciting. It won't kill sleazy politics, but an Obama victory would repudiate those tactics. It'll push them back at least a little. I know liberals and conservatives that used to think John McCain was a pretty good guy. They're not news junkies, and haven't followed every development. But they've seen enough to lose a great deal of respect for him. Meanwhile, I have to say, some of the moves I've observed from McCain are among the sleaziest, if not the sleaziest, I've ever seen. The sex ed ad was especially deplorable. The constant lying and distortions, even after being corrected, are despicable. Some of these comments are better suited for a post-mortem, but it's not as if we don't know the general story now. McCain was always running mainly on his persona, not policies. His policies almost all stink, and many would be disastrous if enacted. McCain has revealed himself to be more clueless on policies, government and the world than many people would have believed (myself included). Palin is literally a national joke, except among her rabid fan base. Meanwhile, McCain showed how erratic he was with his campaign "suspension" and squandered his fake "honor" in public with all his nasty attacks, despite his own rabid fan base. His carefully constructed persona was all he really had going for him, and it's been progressively crumbling.
Former conservative John Cole says "the GOP just needs to be destroyed," and he's right. The sane rule-of-law and pragmatic Eisenhower conservatives need to take their party back. The current authoritarian movement crew have little to nothing of value to offer the country or public debate. All they have is shrieking accusations of anti-Americanism and an ideology which amounts to nothing more than, "give more riches and power to the rich and powerful." They have every right to their opinions, and liberals fight to protect the civil rights of all people, even the scumbags (in contrast to the eliminationist attitudes of the far right). but of all the mistakes of the MSM that liberal activists shouldn't repeat, the biggest is probably an unwillingness to make qualitative judgments, and to call bullshit. Doing those things is one of the best ways to honor "values" and "morality" in service of "the real America."
I leave you with one last insightful passage from the Poor Man Institute:
This is the problem. It’s not just the McCain campaign’s problem - although their inability to pick a narrative and stick to it is a special kind of inexcusable - it’s a problem for the entire wingnut noise machine. Obama is a Marxist Muslim Arab Jesus Black White Terrorist Technocrat Racist Do-Gooder Liberal FDR Stalin Hilter Commie Fascist Gay Womanizing Naive Cynical Insider Noob Boring Radical Unaccomplished Elite Slick Gaffe-Prone Pedophile Pedophile-Seducing Liberation Theology Atheist Etc. & Anti-Etc. with a bunch of scary friends from - wait for it! - the Nineteen Hundred And Sixties. It makes no sense. It’s a jumble sale of fears and scary associations from 50 years of wingnut witch hunts and smear campaigns, a flea market of pre-owned and antique resentments, and if one does detect a semi-consistent 1960’s motif running through it all, that’s because that’s when most of these ideas were coined. While it is great fun for wingnut yahoos to relive the glory days when National Review was still taken more seriously than liberal blogofascists by the people who matter, most of this stuff is obsolescent (or at least unfashionable), and people suffering from the material problems caused by 50 years of right-wing ascendancy aren’t going to drop everything to listen to fuguing conservatives spin disjointed yarns about how much better everything was back in their day. Nobody gives a fuck.
All the more so because they're incompetent, lying assholes.
(Cross-posted at The Blue Herald)