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McCain: Mr. Straight Talk?

If there's a common theme today, it's the press taking McCain's campaign to task for running a series of ads distorting Obama's record and positions.

AP's Babington writes, "Even in a political culture accustomed to truth-stretching, McCain's skirting of facts has stood out this week. It has infuriated and flustered Obama's campaign, and campaign pros are watching to see how much voters disregard news reports noting factual holes in the claims. McCain's persistence in pushing dubious claims is all the more notable because many political insiders consider him one of the greatest living victims of underhanded campaigning. Locked in a tight race with George W. Bush for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, McCain was rocked in South Carolina by a whisper campaign claiming he had fathered an illegitimate black child and was mentally unstable."

The Los Angeles Times' Rainey: "News organizations and these admirable truth-squadding outfits, including PolitiFact.com, do not collaborate. But in independent news reports and commentaries this week, they seemed to reach a consensus to say 'enough' to the McCain camp's efforts to demonize Barack Obama. I'm not saying that Obama hasn't told a few whoppers -- like suggesting McCain's proposed corporate tax breaks are tailored specifically for oil companies or that his opponent seriously believes anyone making under $5 million is middle-class. But it's McCain and his foot soldiers who have really fouled the election airwaves in recent days, provoking the first flickerings of a backlash from the media."

Paul Krugman also gets into the act. "But I can't think of any precedent, at least in America, for the blizzard of lies since the Republican convention. The Bush campaign's lies in 2000 were artful -- you needed some grasp of arithmetic to realize that you were being conned. This year, however, the McCain campaign keeps making assertions that anyone with an Internet connection can disprove in a minute, and repeating these assertions over and over again." 

The Washington Post does a deeper dive into the story of Cindy McCain's addiction. "In describing her struggle with drugs, McCain has said that she became addicted to Vicodin and Percocet in early 1989 after rupturing two disks and having back surgery. She has said she hid her addiction from her husband, Sen. John McCain, and stopped taking the painkillers in 1992 after her parents confronted her. She has not discussed what kind of treatment she received for her addiction, but she has made clear that she believes she has put her problems behind her."

"While McCain's accounts have captured the pain of her addiction, her journey through this personal crisis is a more complicated story than she has described, and it had more consequences for her and those around her than she has acknowledged. Her misuse of painkillers prompted an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and local prosecutors that put her in legal jeopardy. A doctor with McCain's medical charity who supplied her with prescriptions for the drugs lost his license and never practiced again. The charity, the American Voluntary Medical Team, eventually had to be closed in the wake of the controversy. Her husband was forced to admit publicly that he was absent much of the time she was having problems and was not aware of them."

Writes CBN's Brody, "The Brody File has learned that the offer of a short video from vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin to folks at this weekend's Value Voters Summit has been turned down by its president, Tony Perkins. A source inside John McCain's campaign tells me that Palin was set to record the video Wednesday in Virginia before she left for Alaska. But when the McCain campaign approached Perkins about offering the video rather than a personal appearance Perkins said, according to numerous witnesses, 'That's not enough.'"

The Brody File contacted Tony Perkins and he told us: "Values voters have been excited by the pro-family and pro-life content of the 2008 GOP platform. It is a model we want to see all parties embrace. The excitement over Gov. Sarah Palin has spread across the country and is undiminished. As this hectic campaign got underway, we renewed our invitations to the major party tickets to address our Summit for 20 minutes each. That standard format was done to ensure fairness and to spare us another round of intrusive IRS inquiries regarding favoritism toward any candidate or party. Though we prevailed against an unwarranted complaint last year, winning an all-clear from the IRS cost us thousands in legal fees and staff time. Accepting any video from one campaign would have violated a proven format and exposed us to a complaint that all the candidates did not receive this option. We expect to have a tremendous event the next two days."