Lately I have been reading a lot of articles about lying, and not just misstatements, or other euphemisms, but straight out lying--as in why does the McCain campaign continue to repeat the same lies that have already been thoroughly debunked? Mainly, the answer comes back, because it works to lie. To debunk the lie requires someone to repeat the lie, thus giving added weight, despite the context, that is, debunking the lie.
As I said in an earlier posting, the lying was shown to work during the earlier Bush campaign. McCain learned the hard way when the Bush campaign issued the lie that McCain had fathered a Black child--in fact McCain had adopted a child who is not "white." But Big MAC learned that a lie that feeds into people's belief systems (a polite way to say "peoples' prejudices") will harden or even forge a certain attitude.
What that all means to me is that lying provides a rationale for people to do what they wanted to do anyway for other reasons, reasons that they would prefer not acknowledging.
So, what is going on in today's campaign? Well, the lies about Obama include the following:
1. Obama is a Muslim -- False, he is a Christian and has never been a Muslim.
2. Obama was born in Africa -- False, he was born in Hawaii.
3. Obama has "Mob" connections -- False, and I can't even figure out where this one came from, but it was repeated by people I know well.
4. Obama is going to increase the taxes of the middle class--False, his tax plan will cut some middle class taxes and will increase taxes on the very wealthy.
5. Obama proposes to teach kindergartners sex education -- False, his proposal was to provide elementary school kids with information to help them avoid sexual predators.
And the lies emanating from Big MAC about himself and Palin include:
1. They are all about CHANGE -- False, McCain has voted consistently over many years to follow the same principles as Bush-Cheney on issues of War and Economics.
2. They propose to rid the capital of the influence of lobbyists--I have to conclude this is False, since McCain's main campaign senior staff are all highly paid lobbyists.
3. They (now) propose that CEOs who screw up their companies should not receive large golden parachutes -- again patently False, if one understands that McCain's senior adviser is Carly Fiorino ex-CEO of Hewlett Packard who was fired after her disastrous decision to buy Compaq Computer, leading to huge losses for HP. Ms Fiorino was paid over $30 million as a payout on her forced departure.
4. McCain is in favor of more strenuous regulation of the financial industry -- again patently False. McCain has never favored serious regulation--he is an ardent anti-regulation senator, and receives his advice from Phil Gramm, one of the key architects of the current deregulated financial industry and heavily responsible for the current meltdown. Gramm is slated to be Treasury Secretary under McCain.
5. Palin opposes earmarks--this one is patently False and has been debunked so many times, it is now simply amazing that she continues to utter the same tired lies about her record. As Governor and earlier, she vigorously pursued and received very large federal pork payments, exceeding the per capita pork payments to Obama's Illinois by about ten times.
One could go one, but you get the point.
So, what do the lies do?
Well, they paint false pictures of the two candidates that play to people's prejudices in important ways. I believe we are seeing a campaign that plays into American Racism. Many, many Americans are either consciously or subconsciously Racist. Often, such Americans would never admit to that fact, and actually will deny it. But they cannot bring themselves to vote for Obama. The falsehoods provide a cover for their Racism. They can now vote safely for the white man, because (take your pick) Obama is a Muslim, or he will raise my taxes, and McCain will fight for me and my working class friends. Afterwards, when it becomes clear that McCain will do nothing of the sort, but will continue to plunder the Nation's Treasury in pursuit of increased riches for the very wealthy, they will say, "so what else is new, get me a brew, hon?"
One hopes that the Obama campaign will expose this truly radical approach during the debates. I keep hoping that Racism will not triumph this time, and that we are better than that as a people. We will know on Nov. 4th.