Wednesday, September 17, 2008

If you call someone a liar and keep repeating it . . .

Joseph Goebbels said "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." The quote is famous because it's both terrifying and true. And you don't need to look to Nazi Germany for confirmation -- as recently as two years ago (before we stopped paying attention to the debate over WMDs), half of America still believed that we found WMDs in Iraq.

Republicans inherently understand this. When they labeled Obama a celebrity and kept repeating it, political commentators were surprised at the effectiveness of the attack. However, it makes sense: as long as they kept saying, people started to believe it was true.

Now Joseph Romm writes a post on The Huffington Post with which I couldn't agree with more. He argues that the winning strategy for the Obama camp is to label McCain a liar (albeit with the more catchy slogan of "honor requires honesty") and keep repeating it. He points out that this has the added benefit of not only branding McCain a liar, but also making people less susceptible to future attacks from the McCain camp.

My only question is: why has it taken Democrats this long to label a Republican a liar. Yes, McCain's lies have been particularly egregious -- but let's be honest -- the entire conservative platform is built upon a lie. The idea that the best thing for poor people in this country would be to give huge tax cuts to the wealthy, and not to provide them with more funding for education or health insurance, is as ridiculous a claim as any McCain has made during his campaign. It's absolutely absurd -- but it's the foundation of the Republican party's claim that it represents all of America (and not just the wealthy).

That's why I appreciate honest Republicans -- I can, to a certain degree, respect someone who admits they don't want to fund public education or healthcare because they think those things fall to individual responsbility. However, that's not what the Republican party claims when it campaigns for office. If the Republican party were actually honest it could never be elected. So yes, McCain is a liar and branding him as such will be the winning strategy for the Obama campaign, but let's not forget that he's lying about more than Obama's character. The Republican economic platform -- the basis of traditional conservatism -- is itself a lie.

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