The GOP has resorted to outright lies in this campaign – and it’s only May.
The primary process isn’t even officially over yet, and prominent GOP officials – members of the leadership of the House – are already distorting Barack Obama’s words beyond any boundaries of truthfulness.
But -- as we saw last night in Mississippi -- if the GOP thinks they can steal this election with the old playbook of fears and smears, they have another thing coming.
Details below ...
For those of you that haven’t heard, here’s the story on the most recent lies about Barack’s words. In an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic, Barack Obama mentioned that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was a “sore” that was affecting the entire Middle East and our foreign policy. Look, this is just not a controversial statement in any way. But, as I said in a post on Huffington Post yesterday:
But of course, today, rather than seriously disputing that, or, even better, offering a vision of their own on how to find peace in the Middle East and security for Israel, Rep. John Boehner and Rep. Eric Cantor – senior leadership in the House GOP -- decided to ignore the actual meaning of English words and simply invent something Barack Obama didn’t say. Here is what they said
Israel is a critical American ally and a beacon of democracy in the Middle East, not a ‘constant sore’ as Barack Obama claims. -- John Boehner
It is truly disappointing that Senator Obama called Israel a ‘constant wound,’ ‘constant sore,’ and that it ‘infect[s] all of our foreign policy.’ These sorts of words and characterizations are the words of a politician with a deep misunderstanding of the Middle East and an innate distrust of Israel. -- Eric Cantor
This is so mendacious that the objective journalist Jeffrey Goldberg himself felt compelled to reply. He writes:
I have no doubt that Mr. Boehner will issue a correction to his press release in which he states the obvious, which is that Obama expressed -- in twelve different ways -- his support for Israel to me.
If he doesn't, however, I would, sadly, have to agree with my colleague, the less-forgiving Andrew Sullivan, who called Boehner's statement a "flat-out lie." In fact, I would add to Andrew's post, by calling Boehner's statement mendacious, duplicitous, gross, and comically refutable. So Mr. Boehner, do the right thing, and correct the record. I'll be happy to post the correction right here.
These statements by Representatives Boehner and Cantor are so bad they rise to the level of a danger to our foreign policy. America’s allegiance to Israel has always been bi-partisan and unshakeable. It still is, with either Sen. McCain, Sen. Obama or Sen. Clinton as President. But how can we actually have a debate on foreign policy, if the other side simply makes up statements on which to base phony, contrived outrage?
As I point out in that post, Barack Obama said exactly the opposite of what Boehner and Cantor claim. Barack spoke movingly about the inspiration he draws from Israel’s struggle for independence and ongoing struggle for security, and how the Zionist movement for a homeland resonates with his own heritage. But Boehner and Cantor just ignored the meaning of his words and bashed him for something he didn’t say.
We have important issues to debate, vital challenges to face, but statements like these from Boehner and Cantor simply evade the issues in an attempt at character assassination. In the post yesterday, I urged everyone to take action against this. We can’t sit idly by and condemn, we need to fight back.
Already we’ve seen John McCain trying to describe Barack Obama as Hamas’ candidate. That’s beneath the John McCain I used to know. But – sadly – that is the only way the Republicans have to try and win an election
We deserve better. We need to have an honest and important conversation about how to reorient our foreign policy to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
What we don’t need are lies, distortions, and rhetoric designed only to distract. That’s part of what got us into this mess, and it won’t get us out.
Call Sen. McCain’s campaign at (703) 418-2008 and ask him to condemn these statements from his supporters.
Already, the truth has been backed up on this by journalists from Andrew Sullivan to Joe Klein. We need to make sure John McCain knows we’re watching, and to make clear he’s accountable for those speaking for his campaign.
We can be sure that the Republicans will keep trying. It’s all they have left - all the polls show the public has rejected their failed policies. So they resort to the thing they fall back on when the going gets tough: smears. As one GOP operative said to Time Magazine , “It’ll be Swiftboat times five.”
Well, they can try it, but we’re on to their game. We must continue to battle these lies and smears until we bury this style of politics once and for all this November. If we work hard, we can sweep the modern GOP from the field, and repudiate the politics of fear and smear once and for all.
update: Hey team -- sorry I haven't been able to make it back here to respond to comments. Between the floor fight over the GOP shenanigans around the first responders workers’ rights bill and the listing of the polar bears on the Endangered Species list, it's been a hectic but important day on a host of fronts. I'll do my best to drop by later, and of course, I read the full thread after it's all done always.
update2: And now President Bush joins the chorus of Republican attacks, pushing the Bush/McCain "argument" of smears and misleading attacks:
In a particularly sharp blast from halfway around the world, President Bush suggested Thursday that Sen. Barack Obama and other Democrats are in favor of "appeasement" of terrorists in the same way U.S. leaders appeased Nazis in the run-up to World War II.
"Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along," said Bush, in what White House aides privately acknowledged was a reference to calls by Obama and other Democrats for the U.S. president to sit down for talks with leaders like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"We have heard this foolish delusion before," Bush said in remarks to the Israeli Knesset. "As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American Senator declared: 'Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."
Where to even start? First, it's absolutely shameless that an American President would use a speech in front of a foreign government to launch such a petty political attack. President Bush has brought the dignity of the office very low indeed.
And he's not even right on the facts. Like Representatives Boehner and Cantor, President Bush just makes up policies to attack. Barack Obama has never said he was in favor of negotiating with terrorists. Barack Obama believes our government should engage the full range of diplomatic tools with other states in the region - from Syria to Iran to Pakistan - to further our foreign policy interests and fight against terrorism.
I also find it enormously disrespectful of Israel for President Bush to use the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the nation of Israel to launch such a divisive and mendacious attack, even using a disgusting and misleading reference to the Nazis in front of the Israeli government.
Throwing in the "Nazi appeaser" rhetoric is an old trick, too. I remember saying way back in 2006 in a speech at Fanuiel Hall that, "It is deeply immoral to compare a majority of Americans who oppose a failing policy and seek a winning one to appeasers of Fascism and Naziism."
I also said in that speech that the Bush/McCain policy in the Middle East was bad for the security of Israel. "The Middle East is more unstable than it has been in decades. Our stalwart ally Israel is surrounded by emboldened enemies who talk of wiping it off the face of the earth. Hezbollah flags fly from rooftops in Shiia slums of Sadr City and Iran is rebuilding Southern Lebanon." The situation has certainly not improved since then.
But Bush continues with the overheated rhetoric, and the McCain policies continue many of the same mistakes.
The Bush/McCain Republican Party is heading straight into the gutter with this campaign, and, while I can't say I'm surprised, it's always shocking to see how low they will go.
If you haven't already, call the McCain campaign at the number above and demand that John McCain repudiate these tactics right now.