McCain Wraps Distortions Around One Truth

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

THE AD

He was the world's biggest celebrity, but his star's fading. So they lashed out at Sarah Palin. Dismissed her as "good-looking." That backfired, so they said she was doing "what she was told." Then desperately called Sarah Palin a liar. How disrespectful. And how Governor Sarah Palin proves them wrong, every day.

ANALYSIS

This John McCain commercial, which contains two significant distortions, is part of a larger effort to rule criticism of his running mate out of bounds and to paint her as the victim of unfair attacks from both Democrats and the media.

The "they" is never specified here, but the notion that Barack Obama's campaign "dismissed" Sarah Palin based on her looks twists what was clearly a self-deprecating joke by his running mate, Joseph R. Biden Jr. The senator from Delaware laughed as he compared himself to the Alaska governor: "Well, there's obvious differences. She's good-looking."

The "doing what she was told" line is an exaggerated version of a comment by Obama strategist David Axelrod. "She tried to attack Obama by saying he had no significant legislative accomplishments -- maybe that's what she was told," he said. Axelrod did not say that Palin was entirely programmed by the McCain campaign.

The spot is accurate in saying the Obama campaign called Palin a liar. An Obama ad challenged her for taking credit for stopping Alaska's so-called Bridge to Nowhere, which she had originally supported, saying: "Politicians lying about their records?"

The indignation in the female narrator's voice suggests that the Obama camp is unfairly pillorying Palin, in no small measure because she is a woman. One irony is that, while earlier McCain ads depicted the senator from Illinois as "the world's biggest celebrity" -- trying to make a liability of the large and enthusiastic crowds Obama was drawing -- McCain now has a celebrity of his own on the ticket and is determined to protect her image.

Video of this ad can be found at www.washingtonpost.com/politics.


© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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