If Ceci Connolly has a spare moment from whatever she's doing right now, she could certainly write up this and start an enduring narrative that lasts until November.
This week, 16 months into his campaign, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) released his first policy paper on technology. Over at the Wonk Room, former Clinton administration privacy counselor Peter Swire notes that the paper gives McCain credit for "creating” the “Do Not Call” list. But the Federal Trade Commission chairman announced the list two years earlier:
McCAIN: 2003 – McCain led in creating the FTC’s ‘Do-Not-Call’ telemarketing registry to allow consumers to opt out of receiving telemarketing calls. And, when the law was challenged in court, McCain led the effort to ensure that it was upheld.
REALITY: FTC Chairman Tim Muris announced in October 2001 that the FTC was going to do the Do Not Call list. Yet somehow McCain magically caused the Do Not Call list in 2003. And, given the independent agency status of the FTC, it is a stretch to say that ‘McCain led the effort to ensure that it was upheld.
Not quite as sexy as "inventing the Internet," but the difference here is McCain actually put this down in writing, eliminating the need to misinterpret a quote.
This isn't even the first of these exaggerations TODAY.
My friends, we have reached a crisis, the first probably serious crisis internationally since the end of the Cold War. This is an act of aggression.
First serious crisis, ay? If I didn't know better, I'd say that McCain had forgotten the lessons of 9/11.
Obviously, this newfound meme of McCain's consistent exaggerations will hit a nerve with the chattering class. George Stephanopoulos will hold a roundtable on Sunday to discuss "McCain's honesty problem." Cokie Roberts will lament that "McCain isn't straight enough," and investigative reporters will be dispatched throughout the country to look into every one of McCain's prior statements. Children at area high schools where McCain has spoken will be grilled about their recollections. David Broder will use the word "Pinocchio," and that'll just open the floodgates. Howard Kurtz will opine on whether the media is being too lenient in the face of these obvious falsehoods. Chris Matthews will shout, "I mean, isn't this getting ridiculous?... Isn't it getting to be delusionary?" McCain will patiently try to clarify his comments but the media will have none of it. The soundbites will be clipped to make McCain look even worse. The pundits will snicker and former rivals like Mike Huckabee will say "I don't know why he feels that he has to exaggerate and make some of this stuff up." Newspaper editorials will openly wonder whether McCain is deliberately trying to sabotage his own campaign. The New York Times will flat-out call him "crazy."
This is part of my new book, "Election on Bizarro Earth." It am not good!