Ballot Box

The Good Guy Lies

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the straight-talk candidate has been telling fibs.

John McCain has been much less than truthful about his “Catholic Voter Alert” calls in Michigan. He was cold busted on this by David Barstow in the New York Times Sunday. At a news conference on Tuesday, Election Day in Michigan, a reporter asked McCain,  “Have you ordered that those phone calls be stopped?”

“I didn’t have anything to do with them to start with,” McCain answered.

On the Today show the next morning, McCain was asked about the calls again. He told interviewer David Gregory that he didn’t have anything to do with the anti-Bush messages, adding, “I don’t know who paid for them.” 

McCain has since acknowledged that he not only knew about the calls but that he personally approved them ahead of time. Questioned about his earlier comments, McCain and his spokesman Todd Harris have obfuscated, indicating that the candidate thought he was being asked about some other (nonexistent) calls directly accusing Bush of being a bigot. McCain has also fallen back on the claim that his calls were accurate.

In fact, the calls were highly misleading. But the point is that McCain’s pledge never to lie to the American people is already in tatters. At best, McCain was being economical with the truth in a way that you might call Clintonian.