What's shocking to me so far this year is not that the Republicans are lying and smearing -- they always do that. It's that they are so unapologetic about it. From today's Washington Post:
And people wonder why I say Republicans are aiming for the "stupid vote"? Obviously not all Republican voters are stupid, but when you run this sort of a campaign you are clearly saying that you are more interested in propaganda than honesty and really discussing issues.
From the moment Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin declared that she had opposed the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere," critics, the news media and nonpartisan fact checkers have called it a fabrication or, at best, a half-truth. But yesterday in Lebanon, Ohio, and again in Lancaster, Pa., she crossed that bridge again.
Palin's position on the bridge that would have linked Ketchikan to Gravina Island is one example of a candidate staying on message even when that message has been publicly discredited. Palin has continued to say she opposed a project she once campaigned for -- then killed later, only after support for it had collapsed in Congress.
Palin and John McCain, the GOP presidential nominee, have been more aggressive in recent days in repeating what their opponents say are outright lies. Almost every day, for instance, McCain says rival Barack Obama would raise everyone's taxes, even though the Democrat's tax plan exempts families that earn less than $250,000.
John Feehery, a Republican strategist, said the campaign is entering a stage in which skirmishes over the facts are less important than the dominant themes that are forming voters' opinions of the candidates.
"The more the New York Times and The Washington Post go after Sarah Palin, the better off she is, because there's a bigger truth out there and the bigger truths are she's new, she's popular in Alaska and she is an insurgent," Feehery said. "As long as those are out there, these little facts don't really matter." (Emphasis mine.)
Do Americans really want another four years of this stuff? I really hope not.
I think Obama has to make a choice. Either he decides to go negative himself and attack straight at McCain's whole reputation, or he makes this a referendum on intelligence and integrity, just as I have been saying. His earlier comments about McCain thinking people are stupid, and the hard hit back yesterday regarding McCain's honor (or lack thereof) suggest the latter approach, which would definitely be more consistent with who Obama is. But he must do one or the other, in addition to continuing to press the issues.
Prediction: Look for McCain's first attack ad accusing Obama of lying about something -- whether or not he really did -- as early as today.