The Phony Campaign

2008-01-21 Update

All candidates shed phony hits over the past week, save for Mitt Romney, whose gains were good enough to vault him into (to use primary-vote analysis lingo) "a weak third".

Query StringHit CountChange Since
"Ron Paul" phony224,000-17,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony221,000-13,000
"Mitt Romney" phony172,000+14,000
"Barack Obama" phony169,000-15,000
"Fred Thompson" phony164,000-22,000
"John Edwards" phony160,000-13,000
"John McCain" phony155,000-2,000
"Mike Huckabee" phony125,000-15,000
"Rudy Giuliani" phony120,000-4,000
"Dennis Kucinich" phony73,100-6,200

But what are the stories behind the hits?

  • Out in San Diego, Chris Reed has made his choice: "The phony I hope is our next president":
    Mitt Romney is now the clear front-runner for the Republican nomination. He has more delegates than all the other GOP hopefuls combined, he's finished first or second in every caucus or primary, and he's got the money advantage. The media, in full swoon over John McCain again, don't like this and make their bias plain. Newsweek now has a piece headlined, "Romney's Michigan Win: A Fluke?"

    I'm happy about Romney's rise. As a libertarian lite, I think a hypercompetent CEO type like Romney is most likely of all the candidates of both parties to do a good job managing the government without protectionism, intrusive nanny statism and hubristic idealism about grand, sweeping new initiatives. Sure, I think his posturing and pandering of recent months has been pathetic. But I agree with what a smart liberal, Jon Chait of The New Republic, has to say about it:

    Go see what Jon Chait of The New Republic has to say about it. (It's an excerpt from his not-yet-online article "My Little Phony: Defending Mitt Romney."

  • Chris wrote before the South Carolina results, where Romney finished "a strong fourth". But there's a phony story there too: a Christmas card sent from "The Romney Family" to a lot of South Carolina voters was branded as being "Paid for by the Boston Massachusetts [Mormon] Temple". It also included a polygamy-defending quote from a Mormon apostle, and a Book of Mormon verse about a FAIR AND WHITE virgin in Nazareth. (Emphasis in original.)

  • A Mr. Richard Cohen writes in Willmar Minnesota's West Central Tribune of his recent realization that—gasp!—Barack Obama can play just as fast and loose with the facts as the other politicians in the race:
    John Edwards lied about the cost of his haircuts. Fred Thompson lied about lobbying for a pro-choice outfit. John McCain insists that the U.S. was founded as a "Christian nation." Mitt Romney concocted the story about how his father marched with Martin Luther King Jr. And Rudy Giuliani is one-man fib machine — everything from why he had to provide police protection for his then-mistress to the cure rates for prostate cancer in Britain. Yet it is something Barack Obama said that bothers me most of all because Obama is a new kind of politician. He is supposed to be coolly authentic.

    What concerns me is the lie or fib or misstatement — call it what you want — that involves Obama's assertion that more young black males are in prison than in college. It is a shocking statistic — and it is wrong. But when The Washington Post's lonesome but formidable truth squad, Michael Dobbs, brought this to the attention of the Obama campaign, he not only got the brush-off but the assertion was later repeated.

    Let's play Sherlock Holmes briefly and look for the dog that's not barking. Which major phony candidate is missing from Cohen's first paragraph?

  • That's right, it's Hillary! In the New York Times, Patrick Healy reviews the recent history of her assumed personas:
    There has been Commander in Chief Hillary Rodham Clinton, the steely leader who, voters were assured, would "destroy" terrorists and be Thatcher-like tough.

    There has been Strong-and-Experienced Hillary Clinton, but that proved to be so uninspiring that Change-Agent Hillary and Likable-Since-I-Was-a-Kid Hillary were rolled out.

    And Teary-Eyed Hillary, of course, won the New Hampshire primary last week, after the candidate choked up describing the rigors of the race.

    But as her advisers said after New Hampshire, Mrs. Clinton cannot cry her way to the Democratic nomination. So she and her team have been searching for the right personality to help her connect emotionally with voters — an intuitive talent of her chief competitor for the Democratic presidential nomination, Senator Barack Obama — while also emphasizing her competence and experience.

    Emphasis added. For phony connoisseurs, Hillary is a five-star restaurant that never closes.

  • Of course, that last bit was from the New York Times, where they have no problem with op-ed columnists claiming to be in Derry, NH when they're actually in Jerusalem, Israel. Now, that's phony!

Last Modified 2014-12-01 10:17 AM EDT