Hollow man

John McCain, King of Lies

If, unlike me, you don’t believe John McCain is a bad man, you have to be saddened by what has become of his campaign for the presidency.

McCain, at least at one time, gave lip service to high ideals and some principles. He talked about decency.

But that was then, this is now.

His current campaign has devolved into an avalanche of lies, innuendos and cynicism and he not only acknowledges them, he is threatening to continue spewing these shameful diatribes unless Sen. Barack Obama agrees to debate him in his preferred format, a town hall style debate.

From Thomas B. Edsall’s McGamble at HuffPo:

The McCain campaign, in running TV ads which defy prior political standards, is gambling that the traditional rules governing what is permissible in presidential     contests — as defined by the mainstream media — can safely be discarded this year.

The normally cautious and even-handed Associated Press on Thursday declared, “Even in a political culture accustomed to truth-stretching, McCain’s skirting of facts has stood out this week.” The controversies have surrounded McCain television commercials and stump speeches asserting that Barack Obama “supports” comprehensive sex education in kindergarten, that Obama called Sarah Palin a “pig in lipstick,” and that Palin stood firmly against the “bridge to nowhere” — despite videotape evidence that the Alaskan governor provided support for the earmark before she opposed it.

So far, based on polling over the past two weeks, McCain’s roll of the dice has paid off. Not only has McCain made substantial gains, pulling modestly ahead in most national polls, but his assaults on Obama appear to have damaged the Democratic Party as well, raising Republican hopes of minimizing House and Senate losses.

There was a time when I would actually rejoice in this, thinking the country would see through this.

But, McCain’s lies are working because they’re damaging Obama and helping McCain. These lies are not inconsequential. The McCain who spoke to that craven lot in Minnesota, the “Drill here, drill now; drill! drill! drill” crowd, was startled each time the horde applauded his lies. It was as if he could not believe that he was saying these things, but that these people were actually applauding him for it.

I mean, McCain came out at this convention and proclaimed himself an agent of change, jettisoning his earlier trope about being more experienced than Obama, and no one laughed at him. They cheered him instead and the press congratulated him.

This is the same McCain who took bribes to shield a savings and loans operator, Charles Keating, from regulators. The tax payers were left holding the bag when Keating’s bank went belly up. Was McCain disgraced? No. He emerged from this debacle with his reputation gleaming. Yeah, so why shouldn’t he come up to the Twin City and proclaim himself an agent of change?

The thing is, McCain may not have believed what he was saying but the collection of zealots and greed merchants who packed that St. Paul hall are believers and they’ll hold McCain to every one of his false promises.

But, how do you tell people one day that you want to end partisan rancor and then sow bitterness with lies the next day?