Has McCain gone a bridge too far?

Maybe. Partly depends on you.

By continuing to repeat the Bridge to Nowhere lie and adding to it the “Obama wants to teach kindergartners about sex” lie, the “Obama called Palin a pig” lie, and the false sourcing of the charges in McCain’s TV spots, McCain has been spitting in the face of the press corps. There’s evidence that the press corps is starting to fight back. Even Mark Halperin.

The way it looks to me, McCain thought he was so far behind that in order to get back in the game he had to roll out two months early the sort of lies that are typically reserved for the weekend before the election. That leaves Obama plenty of time to counter-attack. Note: not to defend himself from the charges. In politics, you can’t win defending yourself; you win by counter-attacking. There’s a crucial distinction here between refuting each individual false charge from McCain and branding McCain as a serial liar with no honor who is morally unfit for the Presidency.

While we wait to see how this comes out, let me make a plea to all friends of decency and Constitutional government. Do not allow McCain’s Rovian tactics to divide us. Whether or not Obama, and the Obama campaign, are handling this well, he’s the candidate we’ve got. If we allow ourselves to be come angry and frustrated with him, or his managers, or one another, we’re just doing McCain’s work for him.

If you’re really mad, tell everyone you meet for the next sixty days what a disgusting liar John McCain is and what a disgrace he is to the office he holds, the office he seeks, and the uniform he used to wear. Send money to the Obama campaign. Make phone calls. Get your friends to do the same. This is not a time for panic, but for redoubling our efforts.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com