Crooks & Liars had a very insightful blog post by Anonymous Liberal on Saturday, September 13th, entitled "How to Make an Issue of McCain and Palin's Continued Lying."
This post I believe captures the challenge before liberals and progressives, how do we change the nature of Conventional Wisdom as perceived by the mainstream media, who are to often lost in the bubbles that are Washington DC and New York City.
For years the conventional wisdom of the main stream media has been that John McCain was a maveric who was more concerned with his own honor, and doing what is right, than falling in line with his party. McCain was supposed to be country first, where as Republicans have grown into a Party of Party first, second, and third.
Anyone with half a brain who has been following this campaign knows that John McCain is not the man that the media thought he was. He has not been for a long time (if he ever was), but coventional wisdom is a tough thing to break.
I believe we have been watching the media tie its self into knots, not knowing how to cover John McCain and his campaign. At first they often chose to ignore his mistakes, his fibs, and his exagerations. Then they started to notice, but the narrative was these were just simple mistakes. Now however the sheer weight and volume of the outright lies has made it impossible for the media to ignore.
Now can the media take the next step? Can they accept that John McCain and Sarah Palin will say anything to get elected? Eight years ago the conventional wisdom was that Al Gore had a problem with lying (based almost entirely on lies pushed by Karl Rove and Fox News), then in 2004 the CW was that John Kerry was a serial flip flopper. The CW should now be that John McCain will say anything and sacrifice his honor to be President. That he will lie at the drop of a hat. The media is close, but the question is how do we in the liberal blogosphere keep pushing this line.
Here is what Anonymous Liberal has to say:
The Obama campaign is clearly a little taken aback by the brazenness of the lies emanating from the McCain/Palin campaign. Even by Republican campaign standards, this is pretty flagrant stuff. The real question, though, is how to respond to it, how to go about generating some sort of backlash.
Some are suggesting that Obama should display some genuine outrage, like Bill Clinton did from time to time in 1992 (see this clip, for example). I don't think that's a good idea. In addition to the reality that, as a black candidate, showing anger is a risky proposition, such a display would only reinforce the current Republican narrative that Palin has "gotten under Obama's skin" and he's "starting to lose it."
Obama has instead approached the problem with a light-hearted and mocking tone coupled with a message that the Republicans are trying, yet again, to distract the American people from the real issues. I think that's the right approach to take, in principle, but I don't think it's enough. In order to drive home the point that McCain and Palin are liars, Obama needs to be a little more clever. His retort needs to cut through the clatter and really stick in people's minds. And I think there's a way to do that.
Here's how I imagine Obama responding:
"You know, I was listening to the Governor of Alaska today and she repeated a claim that virtually every news organization has already disproved. She said she "told Congress 'thanks but no thanks' to the Bridge to Nowhere." Then I heard John McCain speak and he repeated that claim too, along with several others that have been disproved: she sold the plane on Ebay, she fired the personal chef, and so on . . . . and while I was listening to all that, something occurred to me. I've been doing this all wrong! You see, I've been limiting my claims to things that are actually true. But campaigning is so much easier when can just make stuff up.
So today I wanted to tell you some things I never have before. Did I ever mention that back in my Chicago days I played professional basketball for the Chicago Bulls? It's true, when Jordan retired, they wanted me to take over at guard, but I said "thanks but no thanks; I've got a job to do in the state Senate." Oh, and I don't think I've mentioned this before either, but my running mate, Joe Biden, he once wrestled a live grizzly bear...and won! He also once sold the entire state of Delaware on Ebay. I kid you not.
I don't know about you, but I feel liberated. This whole truth thing was really holding me back. I mean, John McCain keeps saying that I'm going to raise your taxes, even though every independent organization who's looked at it says that my plan gives you a bigger tax cut than his. Well, two can play at that game. Did you know that under John McCain's economic plan, if you fall behind on a house payment, his staff comes and takes your house away? It's true. I swear. How do you think he got all those other houses?"
Okay, that's enough, hopefully you get the gist. The point of taking this approach is twofold. First, the press would eat it up and play it over and over again. Second, it gets the point across in an effective and memorable way. It turns McCain and Palin's lying into an ongoing joke. And whenever they repeat these lies, they'll be setting themselves up for mockery. It would work. I'm sure of it.
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We must work to make John McCain and his campaign and his lying into an ongoing joke. No one wants to vote for a joke. You don't want to make John McCain into a sympathetic figure, but want people to not take him serious anymore.