THE IRRELEVANCE OF ‘FACTS’…. The Washington Post had an item today on campaign mendacity, and noted that the McCain campaign, as long as the polls look good, has no reason to “back down from statements he believes are fundamentally true,” even when the claims are fundamentally false.

John Feehery, a Republican strategist, said the campaign is entering a stage in which skirmishes over the facts are less important than the dominant themes that are forming voters’ opinions of the candidates.

“The more the New York Times and The Washington Post go after Sarah Palin, the better off she is, because there’s a bigger truth out there and the bigger truths are she’s new, she’s popular in Alaska and she is an insurgent,” Feehery said. “As long as those are out there, these little facts don’t really matter.”

For now, there appears to be little political reason to back down. A Washington Post-ABC News poll taken Sept. 5 to Sept. 7 found that 51 percent of voters think Obama would raise their taxes, even though his plan would actually cut taxes for the overwhelming majority of Americans. Obama has proposed eliminating income taxes on seniors making less than $50,000 a year, but 41 percent of those seniors say their income taxes would go up in an Obama administration.

It creates a process that encourages candidates to lie. Voters believe the deception, and some media outlets will run a fact-check item on page A9 that few will notice or care about. As the Republican said, “Little facts don’t really matter.” They’re just pesky details, easily ignored for the purpose of conning voters. Amazing.

I do, however, have a quick side note. The Post/ABC poll showed that a majority of Americans (51%) believe Obama would raise their taxes. Not only is that clearly false — the result of McCain’s constant lying — it’s largely backwards, since Obama’s middle-class tax cuts are far bigger than McCain’s.

But that same Post/ABC poll showed Obama with a narrow national lead over McCain, 47% to 46%, among registered voters.

In other words, a lot of voters have been fooled on bogus tax claims, but they still plan to vote for Obama. Hmm.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.