John McCain is a compulsive … non-truth teller

mccain-rhino.jpgWhen will the media stop calling McCain a straight talker and realize he is a pathological … double talker?

I realize the “L” word is frowned upon in politics, so instead of using that word, which, in any case, doesn’t do justice to the full range of doubletalk in the political arena — let’s just imagine there is an agreed-upon objective scale from 1 to 10 of veracity (with 5 being half-true) that goes something like this:

10. Fred Thompson 12/07: “I’m not particularly interested in running for president.”

9. Bush 5/00: “I think we agree, the past is over.

8. Bush 1/00: “When I was coming up, it was a dangerous world, and you knew exactly who they were. It was us vs them, and it was clear who them was. Today, we are not so sure who the they are, but we know they’re there.”

5. Bush 6/99: “I am a compassionate conservative.

3. Bush 9/02: “There’s an old saying in Tennessee – I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee – that says, fool me once, shame on – shame on you. Fool me – you can’t get fooled again.”

2. Nixon 11/73: “I’m not a crook.”

1. McCain 1/08 (in reply to Tim Russert’s statement “Senator McCain, you are in favor of mandatory caps” [which would be a 10 on this scale]): “No, I’m in favor of cap-and-trade.”

Maybe just maybe you gave McCain the benefit of the doubt in this absurd answer because it was late, he’s been in a grueling campaign with little sleep, and he was under the pressure of a tough questioner. Perhaps he misunderstood what Russert said. Perhaps he just blurted out a standard line from one of his speeches. Perhaps the old guy is hard of hearing. Nyet, nyet, nyet, nyet.

McCain clarified his “position” in an interview with Greenwire (subs. req’d, but the audio alone is worth the price of an annual subscription). They wondered whether global warming would still be an issue in the fall campaign given that Obama and Clinton also support “mandatory caps.” McCain’s reply:

It’s not quote mandatory caps. It’s cap-and-trade, OK. It’s not mandatory caps to start with. It’s cap-and-trade. That’s very different. OK, because that’s a gradual reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions. So please portray it as cap-and-trade. That’s the way I call it.

Where does this extended whopper fit on the veracity scale? It’s a ZERO — heck, Nixon may not have been a “crook,” depending on how you define the word, but McCain’s cap-and-trade system is mandatory everywhere but the Bizarro world. I won’t even insult your intelligence by explaining why — for those who are climate newbies, just Google “mandatory cap-and-trade” (in quotes). I get 15,700 hits.

McCain’s answer is an insult to the intelligence of every American who cares about future generations. His answer is a stab in the back to everyone who is actually trying to talk straight with the public, so they have some realistic understanding of what they will be called upon to do to avoid catastrophic global warming. McCain may be a war hero, but refusing to tell conservatives — and all Americans — that a major mandate (perhaps the biggest one in U.S. history) is required to solve this problem, is the opposite of brave.

I am truly baffled how can a man who has survived torture, who has no problem telling the public he might keep us in Iraq for 100 years, be afraid of a simple word like “mandatory” — even after he has sewn up the GOP nomination and knows that his opponent in the fall has already embraced the same exact “mandatory” approach. Sounds like a character flaw to me.

So if it wasn’t crystal clear before, “John McCain isn’t the candidate to stop global warming.”

[Note to search engines spiders: The ‘L’ word is liar, liar, liar.]

17 Responses to John McCain is a compulsive … non-truth teller

  1. Paul K says:

    Let the mudslinging begin.

  2. Ronald says:

    Politics is a place where every word has an exaggerated importance.

    That’s something that guys like Dr Luntz has taught who is successful at it in today age of politics. Do we call it an estate tax or do we call it a death tax? Many people are put off much more when using the word death tax than estate tax because people don’t feel that they will be leaving an estate. And most people won’t be affected by the tax, whether it’s called an estate tax or a death tax. But they will think they are affected by the tax if it’s called a death tax.

    If you asked me if I am in favor of a carbon tax, I would say no. What I am in favor of is a reduction in property, sales and income taxes and make that up with a carbon tax.

    How we talk about something is important. Politics is the art of the possible. Political Philosophy is trying to figure out what to do. Political Science is figuring out how to get it done. How we talk about what we want to accomplish is part of Political Science.

  3. Joe says:

    I actually think what McCain is doing is very important and take it somewhat personally. He has washed away all the good will he has built with the climate community.

    This ain’t mudslinging. It is fact-slinging. Please point to the mud.

    It also ain’t estate tax vs. death tax — they are both accurate — as are “global warming” and “climate change” — even if Luntz thinks the latter plays best for conservatives.

    He can call it “cap-and-trade” and not “mandatory cap-and-trade” if he wants but he can’t (truthfully) tell anyone else it isn’t mandatory. The way I was raised, that is what we call a lie.

    You can say today is Sunday, but that doesn’t make it so. Not even if you’re a self-proclaimed straight talker.

  4. Beefeater says:

    1. I did not have sex with that women…Miss Lewinsky.

  5. JMG says:

    Wrong — “death tax” is not accurate. 100% of taxpayers die sooner or later; less than 2% of those pay any amount of estate tax when their substantial wealth passes to private beneficiaries. “Death tax” is a rhetorical device intended to play on the fact that everyone will die to confuse people into thinking that the estate tax is something they are likely to face.
    Moreover, the primary argument used against an estate tax — that it is somehow a unique form of double taxation — is absurd, since virtually every other form of wealth transfer is taxed as well (sales taxes, license taxes, deed registration taxes, etc.) Not to mention the vast amounts of wealth that have passed, tax free, from generation to generation. One reason that US whites have so much higher net worth than non-whites of similar income is that many more of them tend to get a nice bump of wealth passed down — often wealth that was first accumulated before there even was any income tax at all. (A very distant Rockefeller descendant I know came into a nice pile of Exxon stock tax-free at 25, for example. It will pass to her children tax-free as well.)

    Kind of off-topic for this blog, but important.

  6. Paul K says:

    “The ‘L’ word is liar, liar, liar” “Sounds like a character flaw to me” “pathological” mudslinging all.

  7. Joe says:

    You can call someone who repeatedly lies a liar? And isn’t that a character flaw? Pathological doubletalker? A big rough, maybe, but then …

    OK, Paul, you explain what McCain is doing. Try to avoid euphemisms, tho — the planet has run out of time for that….

  8. Paul K says:

    Let’s see if I can “channel” McCain. My friends, I have been viciously attacked by Joe Romm, an admitted Metal Rat. He denounces me for alleged misuse of the word mandatory, certainly a heinous act if it were true. Woe be unto anyone who would dare define a policy differently than my good friend Mr. Romm or use any word not approved by him. I am for cap and trade. One thing I learned as a prisoner of war is that adding the word mandatory is redundant and could be misunderstood by the electorate as meaning rationing or other restrictions.

  9. Joe says:

    I am indeed a Metal Rat.
    It is one thing not to use the word, it is another to tell someone else the word is wrong.
    His bill does “restrict” emissions.
    As Carl Pope noted today:
    >>When the bill was defeated on the Senate floor, Lieberman and McCain put out a press release saying that their bill, “would require [italics mine] a reduction in carbon dioxide emission levels to 2000 levels by the year 2010 by capping the overall greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity generation, transportation, industrial, and commercial economic sectors.”

  10. Ronald says:

    I live in Minnesota and our Governor Pawlenty is sometimes mentioned as a vice-president running mate with McCain. He’s traveled with McCain and has been interviewed on Fox recently, just to get introduced to everybody I suppose.

    What has he done in our state? Reduced state income taxes on richer people and by changing the state and local government funding system made local (city and county) governments increase property taxes which they then get blamed for, not the state government funding change for the increases. The Governor makes claims to not raising taxes, but has raised fees, so now people are asking for changing income, property and sales taxes to income, property and sales fees but that haven’t happened yet. Our state hasn’t raised the gasoline tax since 1988 and I kind of think that our Minnesota republicans take great pride in that. We got bridges falling down because of inadequate inspections and action from an under funded Department of Transportation department.

    What’s all that mean? Well, if our Gov. can get away with all that and still have decent approval ratings, he’s what makes politicians proud. That’s just the type of guy they want.

    No politician can survive as a politician unless they can side step tough questions. Did he lie? I suppose so, but that’s how to get elected.

  11. Dave Romm says:

    Leaving aside the amusement value in a right-winger accusing someone _else_ of mudslinging, we can examine McCain’s statements dispassionately.

    And the Straight Talk Express is no more. What he is saying is not merely wrong, it’s pandering. McCain is willing to lose credibility to be politically correct for the Republican base. This failure to pass a reality check is why he will lose in November, and lose by a wide margin.

    Too bad. He’s a great guest on The Daily Show. Of course, so is Bob Dole.

  12. Ben says:

    My favourite is when William Shatner is on Conan O’Brien actually.

  13. Paul K says:

    It is not only mudslinging, but a misrepresentation of what MCain said. There is a big difference between mandatory caps and cap and trade. Of course the important thing is to always demonize the opponent. Name calling is the best way to solve problems.

  14. SWebb says:

    Who says the accusations towrds McCain aren’t true? He acts like hes Demicrate so why not that be true? I’m Obama all the way!

  15. SmoothChill says:

    Whoever posted this nonsense wouldn’t know the truth about Cap and Trade Policy if it jumped up and bit them in the fanny. The more it costs a company to remain in business the more it costs consumers to buy products or services from that business- power companies included. So if your portfolio has stock in a power company who fires coal for energy production…you do the math.

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