Or even give the appearance of lying?
…Mr. Obama began his own run of advertisements on radio and television that have matched the dubious nature of Mr. McCain’s more questionable spots.
A radio advertisement running in Wisconsin and other contested states misleadingly reports that Mr. McCain “has stood in the way of” federal financing for stem cell research; Mr. McCain did once oppose such federally supported research but broke with President Bush to consistently support it starting in 2001 (his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, does not support it).
A commercial running here on Thursday morning highlighting Mr. McCain’s votes against incentives for alternative energy misleadingly asserts he supports tax breaks for “one source of energy: oil companies.” Mr. McCain’s proposed corporate tax break would cover all companies, including those developing new sources of power.
A new television advertisement playing in areas with high concentrations of elderly voters and emphasizing Mr. McCain’s support for President Bush’s failed plan for private Social Security accounts misleadingly implies Mr. McCain supported “cutting benefits in half” — an analysis of Mr. Bush’s plan that would have applied to upper-income Americans retiring in the year 2075.
A much criticized Spanish-language television advertisement wrongly links the views of Mr. McCain, who was a champion of the sweeping immigration overhaul pushed by Mr. Bush, to those of Rush Limbaugh, a harsh critic of the approach, and, frequently, of Mr. McCain.
Now, I’m sure the Obama campaign has a retort for each of these ads. And, of course, this is simply campaign election-year spin.
But that’s really the point, and the problem — Obama has brought this critique of his campaign on all by himself.
Obama has, from the start, run his campaign on “a different kind of politics.” He’s constantly referring to those “same old Washington games” that have mired us in gutter, “gotcha” politics for years. (History, of course, shows we’ve pretty much always been in the gutter, but…)
Obama has set his campaign, and the narrative surrounding his campaign, as a marker for truth in politics. And anything that slips from that point, any deviation, any dubious claim, is fodder for the kind of article the NYT has written. And it is of no matter here how much the McCain campaign might be lying — by running these ads, by playing the spin game, Obama gives the opportunity for the news media, and for his politics opponents, and for the punditry, to create the illusion that “both sides do this,” that both sides lie, and, in turn, create a kind of “equality” between them.
And, for Obama, that kind of “balance” is devastating, because it strikes directly at the center of the narrative of his campaign.
What’s sadly ironic here, of course, is that McCain’s actual record is bad enough — on Iraq, on minimum wage, on deregulation, on the “fundamentals” of the economy — that there’s really no reason to stretch the truth here.
The facts, this time, alone, are enough.