Think Progress noted again, on Sunday, that John McCain continues to repeat false statements about Iraq.
It was al-Sadr that declared the ceasefire, not Maliki. ... With respect, I don’t think Sadr would have declared the ceasefire if he thought he was winning. Most times in history, military engagements, the winning side doesn’t declare the ceasefire. The second point is, overall, the Iraqi military performed pretty well. ... The military is functioning very effectively.
Except al-Sadr didn't declare the ceasefire; the Maliki government brokered it.
This is after fundamentally and repeatedly "misstating" -- i.e. getting flat wrong -- basic facts about the dynamic between Iraq, Iran, and al Qaeda, and gets to the heart a certain press dynamic that I think is becoming more and more apparent as this race goes on: aside from places like Think Progress, Media Matters and the like, has McCain got any substantial coverage, anywhere, detailing how something he said was "false"?
I'm all for a harsh level of scrutiny for the candidates, both Democrats and the Republicans; it's the entire point of the press. An informed electorate cannot exist without it. But increasingly, it seems that McCain is getting a very Bush-like free pass, when it comes to his fabrications.
McCain has a history of false statements, with regards to Iraq. But when McCain says something obviously false -- about Iraq, or Iran, about this cease fire, etc. -- it's at worst labeled by reporters as a "gaffe". A "gaffe" because he's just 'misspeaking', or 'spinning', or 'misremembered', or, let's say, 'is not fully aware of the facts involved'.
It's very Bushlike, in terms of the media just doesn't expect him not to say false things, especially on his self-declared strong point, foreign policy. Bush could say false things throughout his campaign and presidency because he was considered, let's be honest, dumb as a post. It was expected that he didn't understand some of the things he was saying -- or his blatantly false statements were pointed to as perfectly acceptable political spin, evidence of a laudable "tightly controlled message", by the White House, and at worst looked upon with little knowing smirks by the press corps covering them.
Obama would be squashed for saying such transparently false things -- for getting things as flagrantly wrong, about basic aspects of foreign policy, as McCain does on a repeated basis. If Obama did it, it'd be damning evidence of inexperience -- a similar "gaffe" would set the narrative for the rest of the campaign. Clinton's being cut to ribbons over apparent falsehoods on her part -- the sniper thing is still going strong and is presumed, much in the same dynamic as the Gore campaign coverage, to be a definitive measure of her character. (At least in her case, the things she's being hammered for saying are at least usually things she actually said, as opposed to things reporters or right-wing pundits imagined she said.)
But with McCain, his campaign trail misrepresentations are covered by places like Think Progress, but those now-frequent falsehoods aren't defining the character of the man, in the papers and on the networks. Even though (or perhaps because?) his statements are blatant denials of actual current world facts, it hardly seems to tarnish his image.
Eyebrow-raising, but not entirely surprising. As I said, it seems very similar to the treatment Bush has received the past eight years.