Sunday, July 13, 2008

Michelle Obama and John McCain: when politicians embellish

It's not uncommon in life (but especially in politics) to embellish a story to make it more compelling for the immediate audience. Whilst this may be par for the course for the average Joe, this can be particularly damaging for a politician. With the ubiquity of media and the premium voters place on honesty and trust its a risky game playing fast and loose with stories.

This was the case for Michelle Obama and John McCain.
Michelle Obama in addressing the DNCs Gay & Lesbian Council audience tried to show off her husband's credentials as someone who "wins over unfriendly audiences". This was done at the expense of Texans
"Barack has the courage to talk to skeptical audiences, not just friendly ones. That’s why he told a crowd at a rally in Texas that gays and lesbians deserve equality. And you can imagine in Texas that that crowd got a little quiet."
We'll overlook the irony of touting "tolerance" by disparaging a state, stereotyping them as intolerant. Conservative talker Hugh Hewitt challenges Michelle's account of the event by playing the exact audio of Obama's speech with the accompanying audience reaction in context. It's clear Michelle was embellishing, the crowd did not act the way she depicted. To Hugh's credit he gives Michelle a slight benefit of the doubt, for possibly not having been in attendance to know firsthand.

Listen to audio of Hugh Hewitt speaking on Michelle Obama's "Texans" comment and fielding calls: July 1, 2008 - Hugh Hewitt talks with Texans about what the Obamas think of them.
this is my comment on Michelle. She has a habit of exaggerating grievance. Remember "the bar has moved", "we didn't have any money". It's always about exaggerating the grievance she has or that she believes other people have. It's a rhetorical device but its also a way of thinking and it's troubling because the world doesn't owe anybody anything and the world's done pretty well by Obama...

Keep an eye, listen very carefully. If they make stuff up like she did about this reaction of silence among the crowd in Texas, they'll make other stuff up. Get the fact-checkers out in full force..."
Find more audio of Michelle's speech to the Gay & Lesbian Leadership Council here from Townhall

John McCain finds himself in similar strife by changing details of a story he often tells about his time in Vietnam. McCain talks of being tortured and being forced to divulge the names of his squadron team, he recounts that he cleverly cited the names of the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive line in place of his fellow airmen. The Problem - McCain has recounted this story many times, most notably in his book Faith of My Fathers where he sources The Green Bay Packer's offensive line for his decoy names.

Countdown (Rachel Maddow): Was McCain’s Steeler Story A Pander Too Far In Exploiting His POW Past?
MADDOW: The McCain campaign is claiming that the Steeler story is an honest mistake. One of many, it would seem. So our choices here appear to be a) Sen. McCain’s memory is so bad that he can no longer be counted on to remember much of anything; or b) he will say pretty much anything to be President, even pander on the very issue that’s supposed to define him: the years he spent in a prisoner of war camp. Which one of those options is politically palatable here?
Watch video of Rachel Maddow discussing McCain's ever changing story

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