by Max Brantley
Why? Because facts don't matter. Because perceptions trump truth. Because a good yarn -- say a moose-huntin, pork-refusin, aw-shuckin gal -- obscures the fundamental sham of her supposed record, or McCain's sleazy interconnection with the lobby industry. It's Liars Poker. From The New Republic:
McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said this to Politico about the increased media scrutiny of the campaign's factual claims: "We're running a campaign to win. And we're not too concerned about what the media filter tries to say about it." Republican strategist John Feehery made the point even more bluntly, telling The Washington Post: "The more The New York Times and The Washington Post go after Sarah Palin, the better off she is, because there's a bigger truth out there, and the bigger truths are: She's new, she's popular in Alaska, and she is an insurgent." Then, he added, "As long as those are out there, these little facts don't really matter."
Here we have the distilled essence of the McCain campaign's ethos: Perception is reality. Facts don't matter. McCain has presented himself as the grizzled champion of timeworn values. But the defining trait of his candidacy turns out to be a postmodern disdain for truth. How could McCain--a man widely regarded, not so long ago, as one of the country's most honor-bound politicians, and therefore an unusually honest one--have descended to this ignominious low? Part of the answer is that McCain is simply doing what works--and there is good reason to believe that his campaign's strategy of persistent dishonesty will pay dividends come November 4.