The beauty of politics is the license to say whatever you want — true or otherwise. Actually, no, that kind of sucks, but it's an everlasting truth we all must acknowledge, like the fact Dick Cheyney will never die.
On Sunday, The Plain Dealer broke down the great political fib in the era of ubiquitous fact-checking and found that despite a plethora of folks, both regular and of the media variety, pointing out when politicians say very stupid, very false things, politicians continue to say very stupid, very false things with little to no repercussions.
In fact, lying about your opponent remains as vital to campaigning today as it was back in 1908 when William Taft told the press William Jennings Bryan was so fat he once got stuck in a bathtub.
One great tidbit from the PD article focuses on Josh Mandel, that boyish used car salesman who's running against Sherrod Brown. Mandel had charged that Brown, a noted and distinguished foreign trade opponent, was responsible for Ohio jobs being lost to China.
Asked to provide examples, Mandel had zero that stood up to any scrutiny. PolitiFact in turn took a book of matches and lit Mandel's pants on fire.
When asked again by The Plain Dealer to give examples of specific Ohio jobs lost to China, this is what Mandel had to say:
"If that's the level of specificity you're looking for, you're the reporters — you go do the grunt work," said Mandel, who lives in Beachwood. "Any reporter who doesn't believe Sherrod Brown is responsible for jobs going to China is simply out of touch."
PolitiFact Ohio already had done the "grunt work" and found that the examples cited by Mandel's campaign failed to back up his claim, hence the Pants on Fire rating. Right or wrong, Mandel vowed to repeat the assertion "again and again" and said he sees no downside.
His claims, he added, are "100 percent" truth.
"In the minds of so many Clevelanders we talk to, The Plain Dealer's PolitiFact project has zero credibility," said Mandel, a former state legislator and suburban councilman. "People we hear from — Democrats, Republicans and independents — feel The Plain Dealer's PolitiFact project is completely biased, sensationalized and without credibility."
To paraphrase: It's not my responsibility to say something true to the voters; it's the press' responsibility to tell the voters if what I'm saying is true. And, hell, as long as the voters are buying what I'm selling, I don't have to stop saying it.
Oh, and Washington is broke. Can't forget that.
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