The Ugly Truth

From Richard Cohen at The Washington Post (You might just want to skip this and click over there to read the entire article, kids):

The Ugly New McCain
Following his loss to George W. Bush in the 2000 South Carolina primary, John McCain did something extraordinary: He confessed to lying about how he felt about the Confederate battle flag, which he actually abhorred. “I broke my promise to always tell the truth,” McCain said. Now he has broken that promise so completely that the John McCain of old is unrecognizable. He has become the sort of politician he once despised.

Original DVD cover.

The precise moment of McCain’s abasement came, would you believe, not at some news conference or on one of the Sunday shows but on “The View,” the daytime TV show created by Barbara Walters. Last week, one of the co-hosts, Joy Behar, took McCain to task for some of the ads his campaign has been running.


“We know that those two ads are untrue,” Behar said. “They are lies.”

Freeze. Close in on McCain. This was the moment. He has largely been avoiding the press. The Straight Talk Express is now just a brand, an ad slogan like “Home Cooking” or “We Will Not Be Undersold.” Until then, it was possible for McCain to say that he had not really known about the ads, that the formulation “I approve this message” was just boilerplate. But he didn’t.

“Actually, they are not lies,” he said.

Actually, they are.

McCain has turned ugly. His dishonesty would be unacceptable in any politician, but McCain has always set his own bar higher than most. He has contempt for most of his colleagues for that very reason: They lie. He tells the truth. […] No more, though.

I am one of the journalists accused over the years of being in the tank for McCain. Guilty. Those doing the accusing usually attributed my feelings to McCain being accessible.


Not so. What impressed me most about McCain was the effect he had on his audiences, particularly young people. When he talked about service to a cause greater than oneself, he struck a chord.


McCain has soiled all that. His opportunistic and irresponsible choice of Sarah Palin as his political heir — the person in whose hands he would leave the country — is a form of personal treason, a betrayal of all he once stood for. Palin, no matter what her other attributes, is shockingly unprepared to become president. McCain knows that. He means to win, which is all right; he means to win at all costs, which is not.


America has been cheated on too many times — the lies of Vietnam and Watergate and Iraq. So many lies. Who believes that in Afghanistan last month, only five civilians were killed by the American military in an airstrike, instead of the approximately 90 claimed by the Afghan government? Not me. I first gave up on the military during Vietnam and then again when it covered up the death of Pat Tillman, the Army Ranger and former NFL player who was killed in 2004 by friendly fire.

McCain was going to fix all that. He was going to look the American people in the eyes and say, not me. I will not lie to you.


But Joy Behar knew better. And so McCain lied about his lying and maybe thinks that if he wins the election, he can — as he did in South Carolina — renounce who he was and what he did and resume his old persona. It won’t work. Karl Marx got one thing right — what he said about history repeating itself. Once is tragedy, a second time is farce. John McCain is both.


Filed under 2008 election, Afghanistan, Chimpy, George W. Bush, humor, Iraq War, John McCain, Media, movies, parody, Pat Tillman, politics, Republicans, Sarah Palin, snark, South Carolina, Vietnam, Wordpress Political Blogs

15 responses to “The Ugly Truth

  1. Got a Grip

    When I read this article last night, I just about peed my pants. Cohen has always been one of those pundits that McCain referred to as “his base,” a perpetual cheerleader for his Maverickness. He had the rethug version of Tweety’s man-crush on Captain Underpants. To see him go after him like that and call him out on his lies was really spectacular.

    My, how the mighty have fallen….

  2. gotta,
    there are a lot more conservative commentators throwing capt underpants under the bus. i think they are all covering their own asses. i think they realize that the princess sarah excitement is going to fall by the wayside, and if and when capt underpants loses, they will be able to say see? we said she was the wrong pick.
    even turdblossom has said that capt u has gone too far, referring to the recent ads that were proven to be lies. in turdblossom’s case, he is definitely trying to continue the fiction that he is some kind of political genius. he is an adviser to capt u, so, if capt u goes down in flames, then so does turdblossom. faux news won’t even want him once he’s a has-been. he has to distance himself now, or he goes the way of capt u and the princess.
    all the rethugs are running for cover. when capt u makes the poop splatter, they don’t want to get covered with it. it just might be too late, though. yay, youtube!

  3. I bet that old fart smells like a cross between sweat, raw onions, rancid meat and Old Spice cologne.

  4. i just threw up a little in my mouth.

  5. jlms qkw - jenn

    i hope turdblossom will go down in flames and never come back!

  6. jlms qkw - jenn

    nonnie, what is on mccain’s tie? it looks like mccain heads?


    is the background crowd from a war protest? it’s certainly not the repub convention.

  7. jenn,
    i have no idea about the tie. it’s marlon brando’s. the crowd in the back is actually the protesters outside the rethug national convention. i thought that would be a nice touch.

  8. Hi Nonnie! I’m making the rounds today to remind everyone that it is Constitution Day! I wonder if Dubya is celebrating with a bonfire???

  9. jeb

    I sat through a CNN special about CU’s life. It wasn’t a total snow job, they did do a bit of criticism. But what struck me was the time they covered with him speaking into he camera about the torture and the hardship of his 5 1/2 years in an NVA prison. That’s when I started screaming at the TV about what kind of liar would stand on principle about never allowing us to be a torturing nation, to do what the they had done to him, and then back down for political expediency.

    I don’t know how all of those who proclaim him a hero can look themselves in the mirror when he has become such a naked hypocrite. Even at my age, I suppose I’m still shocked by my own naivette in these matters. Somehow I can’t let go of the belief that there are some principles that really do matter. He’s a liar, a political opportunist of the worst kind and he’s betrayed himself more than anyone else.

  10. hi robert!
    thank you for the reminder. not sure if chimpy having a bonfire, but i hear all his old friends will be there to help him celebrate.

  11. jeb,
    don’t you think it’s sweet that cnn and the other “news” channels brought back fairy tale theater?
    i don’t know why you are so shocked. there is an airport named after john wayne! john wayne is considered a hero. what did he ever do? he was a lousy actor who portrayed war heroes and cowboys. he was never a war hero or a cowboy. he never went to war and was never even in the service. and don’t even get me started on the other hero, ronald reagan.

  12. jlms qkw - jenn

    nonnie: john wayne is the first example in Glenn Greenwald’s book The Great American Hypocrites.

    john wayne is the proto-new-republican. blech.

  13. jenn,
    i wonder if movies and television turned this country into one that is only skin deep. does anyone pay attention to what’s below the surface? it’s like everything has turned into american idol. talent is the least of it, it’s the illusion that counts.

  14. Nonnie, ever been to Orange County, California? I used to live there. Back when candidates had to join the John Birch Society to capture the middle of the road vote, John Wayne was an icon, right up there with Ronald Reagan. I’m sure the old guard there is proud to have their airport named after him.

    As American Idol and politics, Roger Ebert called Natasha from Moosylvania the American Idol candidate.

    Roger Ebert on Sarah Palin: The American Idol candidate

    Sarah Palin: This will be on the test

  15. neon vincent,
    i think roger ebert has been reading my email and my comments on other blogs. i’ve been saying for months and months that the entire election process has turned into american idol. no substance, just surface. the news channels are complicit. they know that american idol gets great ratings, so they figure turning the primaries and the election into it will be good for their ratings.
    i think it was over at karen zipdrive’s or helenwheel’s blog that i said that princess sarah looked like a junior high schooler who didn’t do her reading assignment and tried to bull$hit her way through a test when charlie gibson interviewed her.
    thanks for the links, neon vincent. i especially enjoyed the first article, though i disagree with ebert’s assessment that people who are not well-traveled are incurious and provincial. it’s often a matter of finances, not the lack of desire. however, it is another story when you are talking about someone who is seeking an office that requires an understanding of foreign countries. does anyone really want this screeching bimbo representing us in other countries?