15 September 2008

Clever perhaps, but still a manipulative lie

"You know, that shit will rot your brain,” I told the driver of the shuttle bus taking me from Georgetown to the Washington, D.C., airport as we listened to right-wing talk radio on the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

He laughed. “I get all sorts of comments like that from my passengers, but the more I listen to these guys the more I think that by November I may end up voting for McCain.”

“It’s seductive,” I conceded, often because complex issues get reduced to simplistic choices. The driver, who appeared to be of Arab background, asked me if I thought Alaska’s proximity to Alaska gave Sara Palin any foreign policy expertise. I explained why I didn’t think so.

In a couple of minutes, Sean Hannity, the Fox News archconservative, was introducing his guest, Meghan McCain, the daughter of the GOP presidential candidate and author of My Dad, John McCain. One of the first questions Hannity asked was her response to the vicious criticism of Sara Palin’s family. Ms. McCain said any criticism of Palin’s family has no place in electoral politics.

“You say you listen to talk radio a lot, well, let me ask you, have you heard anyone with the Obama campaign or any other liberal or Democratic public figure criticize Palin’s family?

“No,” he replied without hesitation.

“I haven’t either,” I said, “so what Hannity is doing is baiting her to decry behavior that no one has exhibited. In doing so, he is establishing by inference something as a fact that, in reality, it never occurred. And now the next right-wing fearmonger can refer to Meghan McCain’s courageous defense of Sara Palin from the mean-spirited critics of the liberal left—a rhetorical house of cards that was built upon a lie. Oh they’re clever bastards, aren’t they?”