The measure of mendacity

THE MEASURE OF MENDACITY…. At one point in last night’s debate, towards the end, Sarah Palin insisted that Joe Biden “supported John McCain’s military strategies pretty adamantly until this race and you had opposed very adamantly Barack Obama’s military strategy.” This, of course, is ridiculous, and Josh Marshall labeled it “her biggest whopper.”

To be sure, it’s right up there on the list, but was it her biggest whopper? That’s hard to say; there are so many to choose from.

It’s frustrating, in a way, to take in the post-debate analysis and consider what the pundits generally find important. The fact that the vast majority of Sarah Palin’s claims were demonstrably false seems like an inconvenient tangent.

We’ve come to expect a breathtaking degree of dishonesty from Palin over the last five weeks — anyone who repeats, dozens of times, that she opposed the Bridge to Nowhere after she publicly supported it has already forfeited quite a bit of credibility — but looking over my notes from last night, I came up with this list of my favorite Palin lies.

* Obama voted against troop funding? That’s wildly misleading.

* Obama voted to raise taxes 94 times? That’s absurd.

* Obama wants “the feds” to “take over” Americans’ “mandated” healthcare? That’s not even close to reality.

* Obama voted to raise taxes on families making only $42,000 a year? A transparent lie.

* Palin boasted that she was among the Alaskan policymakers who “called for divestment” from state money invested in Sudan. Actually, her administration opposed divestment, at least at first, saying the Alaska Permanent Fund shouldn’t take social or political agendas into consideration.

Now, it’s hard to say with certainty whether Palin was lying or was just hopelessly wrong. It boils down to whether the viewer believes she knows what she’s talking about while making these claims.

But picking her biggest whopper? That’s a tough one.

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Steve Benen

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.