The big lie about Obama’s ‘lipstick’ comment

I struggled with whether to even write about this, lest I lend a lie undue credence.

Yes, I called it a lie. I know politicians and reporters often avoid the “L-word” when describing false political statements, preferring to call them “spin” or “exaggerations” or “mistruths” or some other euphemism.

But this idea the McCain/Palin campaign is pushing, that Barack Obama was referring to Sarah Palin when he spoke of “putting lipstick on a pig,” is just simply a lie.

If “lie” seems too strong, and you absolutely must have a euphemism, try “tripe,” “bull” or “a load of crap.” Obama clearly was talking about McCain’s policies.

Was it inappropriate for Obama to use the “lipstick on a pig” metaphor at all? John McCain certainly didn’t think it was inappropriate when he was talking about Hillary Clinton’s health-care platform last year.

And yet, because Sarah Palin said the word “lipstick” last week and Obama said the word “lipstick” this week, McCain/Palin churned out this ad so the conservative blogosphere could tremble with outrage that Obama is so “sexist.” I got an e-mail moments ago from Mike Huckabee’s PAC:

“Last night, while on Hannity & Colmes I cut Barack Obama some slack on his reference to ‘lipstick on a pig.’ Now I personally don’t think he was referring to Gov. Palin, but if he was he should apologize immediately.”

Gee, how big of him to “cut Barack Obama some slack.” And how passive-aggressive of him to immediately suggest an apology might be in order.

Moments before Huckabee’s e-mail, I got an e-mail from McCain-Palin looking to raise funds in reaction to “the shameful attacks Senator Obama and his liberal allies have launched against our vice presidential nominee.”

Voters should realize that what’s truly shameful is lying about what was said, and then trying to raise money on the lie.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting more items to this blog challenging lies told on the campaign trail. I will try to confine myself to lies told by the campaigns themselves, not their proxies, and I will actively seek those lies on both sides of the aisle; if you have one you think I should address, feel free to tell me.

But I’ll tell you quite frankly, most of the whoppers I’ve seen in this presidential campaign so far have come from McCain/Palin, from matters of policy to political track records to made-up silliness like this “Lipstickgate.” And I will reject any accusations of partisanship leveled against me simply for setting the record straight.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • McCain has become quite the politician since he got his party’s nomination… he has proven time and again that his strategy for winning is based on personal attacks and distracting people from the main issues

  • Kathy

    good work on the Daily Show-esque comparison!

  • My own advice to Obama is “Don’t let up now. Keep up with the lipstick-on-a-pig image!” This is language even right wingers can understand. TRULY, what McCain is doing IS putting lipstick on a pig. Bush with the support of McCain has taken us into a disasterous war, and McCain is now trying to put lipstick on that pig, saying Obama is the one who has shown lack of judgement.

    Bush has deregulated the mortgage industry and created financial disaster, and now McCain is trying to put lipstick on that pig but continuing to support tax and regulation breaks for big business.

    Bush has used the religion to turn Americans against each other in fear and hate and McCain and Palin are now trying to put lipstick on that pig, calling it “Change.”

    Bush has worked hard to take the right for women to choose and McCain is now painting lipstick on that pig by using Sarah Palin to give them the support of women’s rights.

    Bush has given big oil lobbyists unbelievable power in the halls of government, and McCain is now painting lipstick on the pig, telling us he will ‘CHANGE’ Washington along with his team of big business lobbyists.

    This is NOT a ‘silly’ issue. This goes to the heart of what this campaign is about. Don’t vote for a pig with lipstick! We MUST vote for REAL change, or we will deserve what we get – a pig with lipstick.


    JA Redd Posts appear to be SPAM aimed (primarilly) at promotion of political t-shirts and stuff.

  • Josh Richman

    Indeed; I allowed them to post only because I might not have made the policy clear before, but let me do so now: This blog’s comments section hereforth will be a no-solicitation zone.