Column: A Lie Away From The Presidency

This story was written by Eileen Stahl, Michigan Daily


I know how much you love your candidate. Maybe you have chalked John McCains name all over campus, bought a giant cardboard cutout of Barack Obama or sacrificed a goat for Ron Paul on your gold altar. Thats part of the beauty of American politics: You have the freedom to support your candidate with whatever craven level of endorsement you can muster. But no matter how fiercely you want your man in the White House, I wish you would stop lying to get him there.

Last week, there was a fiasco on campus involving an unknown register-your-ass-to-vote person, who screwed up in an epic fashion. Apparently, upon learning that a student supported Obama but wasnt old enough to vote, the clipboard-toting mastermind advised the student to put down a fake birthday on the voter registration form. Great way to support your man there except for the whole breaking a federal law part.

Unsurprisingly, the election season tradition of distorting reality isnt limited to our campus. Groups supporting either Obama or McCain are springing up everywhere, and thanks to the Internet, they can easily spread their messages. See, everyone can use the Internet, from a well-researched politician to a deranged grandma, who sends her e-mails entirely in capital letters about SOMETHING ADORABLE THE CAT DID. Obviously the Internet isnt regulated by journalistic standards yet people still listen.

Consider BornAliveTruth.org, a pro-life organization thats putting out anti-Obama ads on the Internet. In one, a woman speaks who somehow survived her mothers attempted abortion. She tells us that Obama opposed a bill in the Illinois state legislature that would have recognized the children of failed abortions as human (people). Stone-faced, she concludes, If Obama had had his way, I wouldnt be here.

Obamas not only pro-choice, but pro-baby murder. Except the video leaves out an important detail (surprise!): At the time the bill was proposed, doctors were already legally required to care for all children from failed abortions. Im pretty sure that the woman in the ad hasnt been treated like a space alien her whole life either. Obama opposed the bill because he believed it was the first in a series that sought to overturn Roe v. Wade, not because he wanted to drop-kick newborns into biohazard bins.

I know what youre thinking: Those Republicans sure are terrible. Democrats would never use the Internet to spread deceit like that. Oh wait, my bad; they did. By now, we all know that Bristol Palin Gov. Sarah Palins 17-year-old daughter is pregnant. But several weeks ago there was an online movement started by the Daily Kos to expose that Sarahs infant son, Trig, was in fact Bristols, and that Sarah was trying to cover it up by posing as his mother.

At first, there was some compelling evidence for the rumor. However, as it became increasingly apparent that it was all baloney, many of the Democrats in an online forum I frequent continued to pursue it fervently, intent on spreading shaky evidence to give Obama a boost. I dont even care if its true or not, wrote one commenter, As long as it ruins (Sarah Palin).

Why are people doing this? It reflects poorly on your candidates when you do. Political discourse has never been a game played over tea and crumpets, but lately its been getting ridiculous.

Then again, we dont exactly have great role models, especially with both candidates telling straight-up lies about each other. Theres the infamous McCain ad claiming that Obama wanted to provide sexual education to kindergarteners, which he did, if you consider what to do if someone touches you inappropriately to be sex education. Then theres the Obama ad that accuses McCain of wanting the war in Iraq to go on for 100 years. McCain did say he wouldnt b opposed to a century-long presence in Iraq, but only a nonviolent one, like the one we have in Japan today.

OK, so the candidates themselves are jerks, too. But why does it have to be that way? Instead of meeting their opponents on dirty ground, why cant they make more ads exposing the other guys tricks, thereby giving themselves some moral superiority? All of this is hurting people who want to make informed decisions.

I cant do much about what Obama and McCain are up to, but I can yell at young campaigners in a newspaper column. So I will: Knock it off. I mean it. Seriously, if you guys keep this up, my swing vote is going to Ross Perot.
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