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Cui Bono?

Living in Spain as an American ex-pat it's somewhat easy for me to say that if McCain is elected, the country gets what it deserves; if it believes new versions of the same lies, it chooses its own fate. Seeing what I see and reading what I read on the Internet, it seems impossible that the polls are as close as they are, but it's been years since I watched mainstream news in any format other than clips on blogs. I don't know what mainstream America media is saying, but I doubt many Americans receive the sort of daily information that leaves them well informed. I would like to believe that if Americans received reliable information, the coming election would be a landslide. Obviously the information is out there, but most of it requires an Internet connection and time. The Obama campaign can't merely hope that enough people see the right reports on the news that correct the McCain campaign lies; they can't wait for a referee to accurately call all of the fouls. The last two presidential elections make that very obvious.

The problem for the Left is that it needs a referee. The McCain campaign is using lies as distraction on a daily basis. Every day brings a different lie in the attempt to muddy the water and avoid talking about the issues. But the lies can't stand. The media has actually started debunking the lies – some even starting to talk about the pattern of lies – but it's time for the Obama campaign to start talking about the pattern of lies while tying it to specific points: the difference in their tax plans and their health care plans, and by also mentioning McCain's past objection to the Bush tax cuts using his own quotes. At the same time the campaign needs to tell people where to get the information.

Obama should say specifically that he is not calling McCain a liar, but that for some reason McCain is lying about his tax plan, framing it something like the following, it doesn’t have to be this exactly but the general idea: defend against the lie, play offense by promoting the actual benefits of Obama's tax plan, while giving a possible motive for the lie, making it clear the degree to which McCain benefits both from the lie and his own tax plan. It also allows the campaign to start promoting better referees than the mainstream media.

Senator McCain says that you will pay more in taxes under my plan. But that's not true, McCain will pay more under my plan, I will pay more under my plan. Michelle and I are doing OK. I don't say it to brag, but I don't want to lie to you. I know that many of you are not, I know that many people across this country are struggling. So I'm willing to pay more in taxes, so that you can pay less.

For some reason, according to his tax plan, Senator McCain is not willing to do the same. Instead his campaign has lied about my tax plan. It might be because he would save about $350, 000 more under his plan than he would mine, but I don't know for sure, you should ask him.

And while you're asking him that, please also ask him why, when he said in 2001, “I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us, at the expense of middle-class Americans who most need tax relief.”

Ask Senator McCain why he now wants to make those tax cuts permanent when middle-class Americans need tax relief even more urgently after the last seven years of Bush.

Now you don't have to believe me, you can look at the report from the non-partisan Tax Policy Center and then tell me which plan puts your needs first.



Obama should say something similar about his health plan. The theme should stay simple and should be repeated daily by Obama and his advocates everywhere in the country. There should be commercials that say the same thing and give the web addresses of the non-partisan sources, ending with Hari Sevugan's line, "John McCain would rather lose his integrity than lose an election."

Palin will become increasingly irrelevant as her lies, and her actual record in Alaska become a part of the larger narrative that McCain will do whatever is needed to become president. (They should also show the picture of "the embrace" with Bush as much as possible, and stop talking about him.)

If it is still somehow too delicate a thing to say that McCain is lying, then Obama can say the Republicans are lying. But that word has to be used, he has to call lies exactly what they are. The benefit is that Obama can remain charming while telling very pointed truths. It's not mudslinging, it's truth-telling. The downside is that anytime Obama or Biden make a mistake, the Right will pounce on it as a lie to further muddy the debate. But Obama and Biden can weather it by returning to the same points again and again, referencing them in the face of every accusation, like a Republican talking point, except with substance.

I don't want to be cynical, but one of my aunts voted for Bush in 2004 and she came to regret it. I know how she gets her information, the mainstream news narratives of Kerry were the fabric of her decision, a weave of half-truths and innuendo. That hasn't changed, despite the problems the country faces. The media has been focused on Palin and their repeated lies, the media needs to focus on why McCain would rather lie than talk about his actual proposals. The media will if Obama starts accurately calling lies what they are and offering the evidence.

I want to believe that people are just poorly informed, that if they know the differences there is no way for McCain to win even with the insecurity of the voting technology. But the cynic in me says the country is screwed.

(Kristina Francisco editor)

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