McCain camp broke 9/11 truce

Despite a pledge not to campaign as normal, John McCain released a new attack ad; unsurprisingly, it's filled with distortions.

Published September 12, 2008 2:46PM (EDT)

The two presidential campaigns had declared a truce for the anniversary of 9/11. Traditional campaigning, especially of the negative sort, was supposed to be put on hold. But John McCain's campaign, it's now clear, broke that truce -- and did so with an ad that nonpartisan watchdog calls "particularly egregious" for its distortions.

FactCheck is also responsible for noticing the violation of the truce; it caught the McCain camp airing the ad in Denver on Thursday, the seventh anniversary of 9/11. And there's another glaring sign I just noticed -- if you look at the YouTube page for the ad, it says the video was added on Sept. 11, 2008.

The spot itself, titled "Disrespectful," is more push-back against criticism of Sarah Palin. In this case, as with other similar ads the McCain camp has put out, the criticism discussed is largely fictional. FactCheck has three points summing up the distortions in the ad:

  • The ad says "they said she was doing 'what she was told.'" But the Obama adviser who's being quoted didn't accuse Palin of meekly following orders. What he actually said is that she made a false claim about Obama's legislative record and added, "maybe that's what she was told."
  • It says "they lashed out at Sarah Palin; dismissed her as 'good looking,'" But "they" didn't lash out at all. Obama -- who is the one pictured -- didn't say anything like that. The only one the McCain campaign quotes is Obama's running mate, Biden, and he actually offered the remark as a compliment. Biden said the "obvious" difference between Palin and himself is "she's good looking."
  • The ad says Obama was "disrespectful" when he accused Palin of "lying" about her record. But the truth is Palin's claim to have "said no" to the "bridge to nowhere" is indeed a dubious one, as we and many have pointed out.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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2008 Elections John Mccain R-ariz.