Robert Shrum

Maybe the Obama campaign should just fire all their fact checkers. Why vet your ads or even your resume when the McCain campaign keeps proving it doesn’t matter? Right now, the Straight Talk Express is hurtling down a highway of lies. If there are fact checkers hidden somewhere in the back of the bus, they’re like the old Maytag repairman with nothing to do.

It’s hard to single out just one lie. Perhaps the most notorious is the McCain ad that trashes Obama’s “one accomplishment” on education—a bill “to teach comprehensive sex education to kindergarteners.” The nonpartisan says the charge is “simply false.” But it’s not just McCain’s attacks that show disdain for the truth. The campaign’s claims about Sarah Palin are often whoppers. She did too travel to Ireland (for an airport refueling stop). And she went to the war zone in Iraq (or at least to the Iraqi border to see an Alaskan re-enlist). She’s a reformer who’s trying to suppress an ethics investigation and a foe of earmarks who’s a champion pork barreler. No falsehood is too egregious if it puts a bit of rouge on her pallid record. (I hope I’m spared more false outrage about “sexism” from McCain, who opposed the Equal Rights Amendment. If Palin were a man, I’d say the campaign was trying to put a toupee on a bald expanse.)

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Robert Shrum has been a senior adviser to the Gore 2000 presidential campaign, the campaign of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and the British Labour Party. In addition to being the chief strategist for the 2004 Kerry-Edwards campaign, Shrum has advised thirty winning U.S. Senate campaigns; eight winning campaigns for governor; mayors of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, and other major cities; and the Democratic Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives. Shrum's writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The New Republic, Slate, and other publications. The author of No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner (Simon and Schuster), he is currently a Senior Fellow at New York University's Wagner School of Public Service.