The lying of politics, and vice versa

Heard a piece on NPR this morning in which Brooks Jackson, director of , 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.


  1. Presidential election 2008 |Republicans Vs. Democrats » The lying of politics, and vice versa’s avatar

    […] lying of politics, and vice versa February 24th, 2008 Lucia – Team Coordinator for OBAMAWOOD wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptWe’ve also previously criticized […]

  2. John Quimby’s avatar


    I’m disappointed with the Obama campaign for needlessly playing this way.

    Doc I also heard this story and a quote from Obama that he stood by the comments in the flyer. I’m not sure what to make of that.

    Good strategy that he not deny or plead ignorance. But bad policy that this kind of thing is going on, It can’t help him.

  3. skywalkerjlp’s avatar

    In the United States, voter registration has never been higher (70 % of the eligible voters ) and yet there has been a steady DECLINE in voter turnout. We had a more than 10 % spike last election after Bin Laden released his video 2 days before the election, and I’m sure there will be another spike this year when Obama becomes the next President. This may placate the masses for a while, but nothing has actually changed. In this day and age of modern technology, a NATIONAL POLL – instituted so the masses can be actively involved in their REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY on a weekly basis, adding in their 2 cents on all the major issues of the week – is the best remedy for ailing voter discontentment. Of course there is probably not one elected official who would ever WANT such a thing, and that has more to do with the FACT that we are a FEDERAL CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC ( google United States, Wikipedia, first sentence ) and NOT a representative democracy. The PEOPLE want to be heard, my most distinguished and learned gentlemen and ladies, or so many of them would not be registering. If you truly want the people to feel positive about politics in general, why not give them an opportunity to become actively involved, say once a week, allowing them to voice their opinions on the major issues. When that day comes to pass, you will have solved voter discontentment in the United States.

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