Heard a piece on NPR this morning in which Brooks Jackson, director of FactCheck.org, said Hillary Clinton was correct when she said (in much stronger language) that an Obama flyer was misleading. FactCheck goes on to say,
|We’ve also previously criticized Clinton for sending a mailer that twisted Obama’s words and gave a false picture of his proposals on Social Security, home foreclosures and energy.|
|We leave it to our readers to decide whether they should be “outraged” or not, and at whom.|
The subject of the flyer was NAFTA, and the candidates’ positions on it. Says FactCheck,
|We take no position here on whether NAFTA is a boon to the economy or a detriment, and note only that there are plenty of arguments on both sides. We do judge that the Obama campaign is wrong to quote Hillary as using words she never uttered, and has produced little evidence that she ever had strong praise of any sort for NAFTA’s economic benefits.|
Earlier they characterize her position on NAFTA as “ambivalent”. I can see that. Even “free” trade is really freaking complicated, with trade-offs all over the place, and unintended consequences out the wazoo. Of course politicians need to take strong positions to make matters simple for voters (and themselves). But if there’s one thing that’s become clear in this election season, it’s that we’ve reached a tipping point in the voters’ distaste for lying and smearing.
All three remaining major presidential candidates continue to experiment with it. What they’ll find is that it works less and less.
The lesson: If you’re going to “go negative”, at least tell the truth. As Harry Truman put it, “I never gave them hell, I just tell the truth and they think it’s hell”.
And don’t think we can’t tell the difference. If you try to fool some of the people some of the time, you’re only making a fool of your own damn self.
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