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Making it up as they go along

The McCain-Palin ticket is having remarkable success with its revolutionary campaign tactic that I call: "Lying Eyes."

I've named it after that classic joke about a man caught by his wife in flagrante delicto with another woman. He denies the affair saying, "Who are you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?"

It doesn't seem to matter what the facts are or how directly they contradict the candidates' claims, the McCain-Palin campaign is sticking with its fantasy version.

The story line in a presidential campaign has always been important. It is the incisive narrative of who the candidates are and what they represent. But the McCain-Palin campaign has put way too much "story" in story line, making things up and selling pablum to an apparently credulous electorate.

Of course, the most obvious example is the leviathan pork-barrel $223-million bridge to nowhere that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin claims to have opposed. She has put this at the top of her resume for the job of Vice Maverick-in-Chief.

It doesn't seem to matter, as has now been reported endlessly, that when Palin ran for governor she endorsed the bridge project that would have connected a tiny island with few residents to the mainland city of Ketchikan. She only abandoned it when the project became politically radioactive. Then, as governor, Palin kept the hundreds of millions in taxpayer money, redirecting the cash for other transportation projects.

It is as if these facts are not in evidence. McCain-Palin campaign ads are still touting how "She stopped the Bridge to Nowhere." And on the stump she continues to say "I told Congress thanks but no thanks."

We also know that Palin is queen of winning federal earmarks. As mayor of Wasilla, she hired a private lobbyist to help bring in $27-million in earmarks to her town of 7,000. As governor, she has made the largest per-capita federal earmark request in the nation, totalling nearly $750-million.

So when the McCain-Palin campaign runs on an end-to-earmarks message and seeks to tar Barack Obama with his earmark requests that are modest by comparison, it is once again resorting to those Lying Eyes.

Now let's talk about taxes. The campaign of John McCain has put out a series of scary campaign ads about Obama's tax plan. Newsweek has dubbed them a "pattern of deceit."

McCain's new ad says that Obama plans to impose "painful tax increases on working American families" and past ads have said Obama wanted to raise taxes on "families" making just $42,000 a year.

Here's the truth: Obama's plan would substantially cut taxes to all but the wealthiest families — far more than McCain's tax plan would. But if you're yearning for some more hefty tax cuts for the nation's rich, then McCain's your man.

The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has analyzed both campaigns' tax plans and found that Obama's would cut taxes for 81.3 percent of all households and for 95.5 percent of households with children.

Going with Obama's plan, according to the center, would reward middle-income taxpayers to the tune of $2,200 in tax cuts annually by 2012. While taxpayers in the top 1 percent of income would face an average tax increase of $19,000.

Under McCain's tax plan, middle-income taxpayers would see a rise of $1,400 in after-tax income by 2012. But for those in the top 1 percent, McCain would cut their taxes by more than $125,000 annually.

McCain's plan would increase the national debt by $5-trillion by 2018, while Obama's plan would increase it by $3.5-trillion, according to the center. Yet McCain's ads warn that Obama's plan would bring about "years of deficits."

The only thing "maverick" about McCain's use of lies to smear his opponent is how breathtakingly blatant they are. If the nation falls for this, the Lying Eyes campaign will have succeeded, and for all of us with eyes that saw through to the truth, there will be tears.

Making it up as they go along 09/13/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 16, 2008 7:26pm]

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