Campaigns and Lies
Nobody really expects politicians to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, but the willingness of the candidates to brazenly tell out-and-out lies has reached a new high this year. In the past, politicians would shade the truth a bit and if they were caught, would stop. No more. The Washington Post has a story on that today. One example: "McCain says rival Barack Obama would raise everyone's taxes, even though the Democrat's tax plan exempts families that earn less than $250,000." But a poll taken Sept. 5-7 shows that 51% of the voters thought Obama would raise their taxes. Republican strategist John Feegery said: "these little facts don't really matter." What he means is that the campaign is trying to exploit the long-standing Republican theme that Democrats raise taxes and Obama's promise to raise taxes only on the rich is an unimportant detail that can be safely ignored. In the past the press called candidates to order when they lied. Now the model is to give each side equal time, even if one is brazenly lying. For example, if Obama wanted to motivate younger voters, he could say: "McCain will bring back the draft and everyone under 21 will be sent to Iraq." There is not a shred of evidence for this, of course, but the press would dutifully report it along with McCain's outraged denial. But the seed would be planted. Three days later there would be a poll showing that 35% of the voters think McCain will bring back the draft. That's how the game is played these days. It ain't beanbag.
I think what the democrats need to do is add footnotes to their commercials and speeches. For example:
"As Mayor of a town with about 6000 people in it when she was elected, Palin lobbied for and received almost $27 million in earmarks, yet still left the town with a debt of $22 million, or $3500 per person in the town. If she was elected Vice President she would help put the US over a trillion dollars deeper in debt! Furthermore if she had her way she would outlaw the teaching of evolution and mandate the teaching of creationism in public schools, leaving our children ill-equipped to compete in a global economy! She would also overturn Roe V. Wade and outlaw all abortions, denying American families to decide for themselves to handle the issue of pregnancy, especially in the case of teen mothers. She refuses to even work with people who disagree with her and will fire employees unjustly for purely personal reasons. And despite her ethical grandstanding her own morals are open to question. She's had at least one extramarital affair and she eats puppies and kittens for breakfast."
 Well documented fact.
 Speculation based on a simple application of ratios
 Theorizing based on some of her statements. But I'd put money on it.
 Well documented that she would like to do this.
 There is some evidence to support this viewpoint.
 At least that's what it said in the tabloids.
 This isn't true, but it makes a great sound bite.
Of course the footnotes would be hidden on the back of the last page of the printed speech, or shown in tiny text in the corner of commercials, but those who were interested in the truth would be able to find them easily enough, while those who are stupid enough to believe the kind of lies the Republicans spread might be fooled =P