Saturday, September 13, 2008

On truthfulness in the campaign

From the New York Times article on McCain and the truthfulness of his campaign.

Mr. Obama’s hands have not always been clean in this regard. He was called out earlier for saying, incorrectly, that Mr. McCain supported a “hundred-year war” in Iraq after Mr. McCain said in January that he would be fine with a hypothetical 100-year American presence in Iraq, as long as Americans were not being injured or killed there.

More recently, Mr. Obama has been criticized for advertisements that have distorted Mr. McCain’s record on schools financing and incorrectly accused him of not supporting loan guarantees for the auto industry — a hot topic in Michigan. He has also taken Mr. McCain’s repeated comments that American economy is “fundamentally sound” out of context, leaving out the fact that Mr. McCain almost always adds at the same time that he understands that times are tough and “people are hurting.”

And not being truthful is a problem for either side. Should we demand that candidates raise the standard of truthfulness, not lower it?


Latenter said...

We should. I get the sense that anything I hear in a campaign would be flipped if the candidate thought he would be more likely to be elected. I once thought McCain bucked this trend.

He did to a certain extent during the Bush 2004 campaign where he always tempered his support of the war by adding that we really needed the extra boots on the ground that the administration had been hesitant to send.

That's somewhat refreshing, because even most political supporters (it seems to me) will abandon truth to support their candidate.

But, as you've noted, his own campaign is not as truthful.

I think i stems from the fact that no one analyzes the content of what the candidates say anymore. Watch any cable news show after the debate and I assure you they will be talking about how the candidate came across, not what he said.

Why else do meaningless lines like "he wouldn't even follow him to the cave where he lives" not ruin speeches?

Clayton Littlejohn said...

Here's a question of genuine philosophical interest. When giving her stump speech in Alaska, Palin dropped reference to the "Bridge to Nowhere". She's put that back into her speech now that she's out of Alaska. (As noted here.) One less lie than there could have been, but it seems she's not peddling the lie in Alaska because the locals know well enough to know a lie when they see it. Does this make things better or worse?

Victor Reppert said...

I told my wife about this and she said "worse." It seems more deceitful the way she is doing it. Evidence that she knows she's lying.

Clayton Littlejohn said...

That's sort of how I feel, too.

Although, it's funny to say it would have been better if she lied more!

Victor Reppert said...

Clayton: But I don't know if being a smarter liar means you are less moral.

The old saying is "Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive." Hence one for whom deceit is a more practiced art may be a smarter liar, and this is evidence that deceit is more deeply rooted in the person's character.

It's enough to make you an Aristotelian virtue ethicist.