The Difference Between A Lie And A Mistake

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A LIE AND A MISTAKE.... Campaign rhetoric tends to follow a fairly predictable pattern -- a candidate makes a dubious claim, the claim is debunked, the candidate moves onto a new dubious claim.

The McCain campaign is interesting in this respect. It prefers to repeat bogus claims, even after they've been proven false. The McCain gang is willing to gamble that voters either won't hear the truth or that the truth simply doesn't matter anymore.

Take McCain's new TV ad, unveiled this morning. Whether this is an actual ad that will be aired or just another video press release intended for media consumption is unclear. Either way, the ad, characterizing John McCain and Sarah Palin as two peas in a pod, claims, "The original mavericks. He fights pork barrel spending; she stopped the Bridge to Nowhere."


To support its claim about Palin having "stopped" the Bridge to Nowhere, the ad cites an article from December in the Anchorage Daily News. When one actually looks at the article, one sees that the Daily News piece doesn't support the claim.

In our reality, Palin supported the bridge project, and campaigned on a pledge to build it. The bridge was scrapped, not by Palin, but when an embarrassed Congress stopped the project. Even then, Palin took the money and spent it on other Alaskan transportation projects. Unless the McCain campaign is prepared to change the meaning of the word "stopped," the ad's claim is obviously not true.

But stepping back, it's not just the ad. McCain and Palin have repeated the same claim, over and over again, in a variety of settings, after it was exposed as a lie.

As Hilzoy explained over the weekend, after Palin once again claimed to have rejected the Bridge to Nowhere, "She is not just telling lies; she's telling lies that have been exposed as lies, and that have gotten a lot of attention. Assuming she does not actually want to lose, she must assume that her audience either doesn't know that she's lying, or doesn't care. In either case, it's deeply cynical, and deeply insulting. I just hope she isn't right."

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