Spinning Away The Shamelessness

by dday

Nick Kristof is being a moron here, but there's a serious subtext to it. If John McCain can keep taking multiple positions on issues, or say one thing and do another with abandon, and the media will give it a pass, that's a tremendous detriment for the Democratic nominee. They're coating McCain with teflon.

With the arrival of the primaries, he has moved to the right on social issues and pretended to be more conservative than he is ... McCain truly has principles that he bends or breaks out of desperation and with distaste ... McCain himself would probably acknowledge every one of these flaws, and he is a rare politician with the courage not just to follow the crowd but also to lead it. It is refreshing to see that courage rewarded by voters.

If you're going to read his mind, then sure, I guess you can find whatever you want in McCain. But the actuality kind of deviates from that. I mean, McCain has made Iraq the centerpiece of his campaign by lying about his record of calling for the ouster of Donald Rumsfeld and the repudiation of his war strategy, which he, um, didn't. He claims to be a leader on fighting climate change in the US Senate, yet he actually doesn't know anything about his own policy, including whether or not his plan has a mandatory cap on carbon emissions. He makes an argument about Barack Obama being all talk but having little in the way of accomplishments, and yet he actually doesn't have many substantial accomplishments to speak of. And in the one accomplishment he can name, campaign finance reform, this growing story about how McCain sought to have the taxpayers bail him out if he lost the election is only going to make him look even more bogus.

As The Washington Post reported on Saturday, John McCain's campaign struck a canny deal with a bank in December. If his campaign tanked, public funds would be there to bail him out. But if he emerged as the nominee, there'd be no need for public financing, since the contributions would come flowing.

It's an arrangement that no one has ever tried before. And it appears that McCain, who has built his reputation on campaign finance reform, was gaming the system. Or as a campaign finance expert who preferred to remain anonymous told me, referring to the prominent role that lobbyists have as advisers to his campaign, "This places McCain’s grandstanding on public financing in a new light. True reformers believe public financing is a way to replace the lobbyists’ influence, not a slush fund that the lobbyists use to pay off campaign debts."

Hilzoy has more. But none of this matters if everyone fails to report it factually. And Kristof's op-ed is a shot across the bow. If the truth on McCain is only going to be revealed in blogs and on Olbermann (who just had a nice segment on the campaign finance issue), then the impact will be severely blunted. This worries me.

McCain is going to be running on his integrity. The facts reveal that he has none. But those who would hold him accountable would rather spin it away. So, how to get around this? Unless the nominee is going to be forceful and basically demand that the press looks at the reality, I'm not sure.