Festooned with Lies, the McCain Campaign’s attack on reality

George Orwell would be proud. He once wrote that, “During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” Perhaps a more appropriate quote would be, “In our time political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible.”

Today’s hero? Phil Tuchman. He has the integrity of a traveling carnie promoter. He never saw a mark who he couldn’t rob; for him, truth comes solely in the form of a McCain campaign paycheck. 70 years ago, Joseph Goebbels would loved having Tuchman as his reich hand man.

Today’s Salon exposes another truth behind McCain’s campaign:

“You can be whoever you want to be,” says an inviting Phil Tuchman. “You can be a beggar or a millionaire. A mom or a husband. Whatever. You decide!”

I volunteer in political campaigns now and then. After a series of outings for Obama and a first mission as a phone banker for John McCain, I returned to McCain’s headquarters in Arlington, Va. The offer was too alluring to delay — they wanted to put me into action as a ghostwriter. Next to commercials and phone banking, writing letters to the editor is the most important method of the McCain campaign to attract voters. At least that is what’s written in the guidelines that McCain campaign worker Phil Tuchman presents to me.

Today he is training six ghostwriters. . . .

The assignment is simple: We are going to write letters to the editor and we are allowed to make up whatever we want — as long as it adds to the campaign. After today we are supposed to use our free moments at home to create a flow of fictional fan mail for McCain. “Your letters,” says Phil Tuchman, “will be sent to our campaign offices in battle states. Ohio. Pennsylvania. Virginia. New Hampshire. There we’ll place them in local newspapers.”
. . .
“We will show your letters to our supporters in those states,” explains Phil. “If they say: ‘Yeah, he/she is right!’ then we ask them to sign your letter. And then we send that letter to the local newspaper. That’s how we send dozens of letters at once.”


It is no surprise that McCain would rely on the Tuchmans of this world. After being out-Roved in 2000, he realized that joining those thugs was the only way to win. That explains the many KarlRovian staffers and lobbyists he has on staff. It explains his 8 year voting record with George Bush (+90%). It explains why, when asked to name one Bush policy decision with which he disagreed, he changed the subject.

How does one fight against a lie-based campaign, where truth is inconvenient, (and best ignored), and where the only goal is to win at any cost?

Some say that the only way is to fight fire with fire.
Unfortunately, going after a pig in a sty only gets you dirty, no matter how much lipstick you use.

Others say ignore it, because just by raising the issue, causes the message to become even stronger.
(Much like McCain’s viral video ads, created solely for the purpose of getting on the intertubes, where they eventually became the story. They generated what amounted to free ad time because of their outrageous content – a standard KarlRovian approach.)

Still others suggest that any lie-based move should be approached with live cameras and bright lights, embarrassing the wrong-doers into contrition and embarrassment.

The problem with the last step is that people like John McCain and his sidekick Phil Tuchman are that rare breed of people who have absolutely no shame. No internal guidance system directs their actions. No morals, integrity, innate decency make certain choices more palatable. When a car salesman says “trust me,” best check under the hood to see that the engine’s still attached. When a Wall Street Investment Banker says, “This is a major financial crisis,” watch how much of our $700 billion ends up in his bonus check. When McCain says “I’d rather be right than win this election,” you can pretty much guarantee that such a thought is the furthest thing from his mind.

Who else would prostitute himself before the likes of Jerry Falwell and other uber-christian charlatans? Who else could deliberately pursue his course of action over the last two weeks? He makes Linda Blair’s character in The Exorcist seem absolutely stable, with her head firmly affixed to her shoulders.

First, the economy had a great foundation, then, he claimed he had referred to the American worker, then he pretended to stop campaigning, so he could ride in with a big white house, er, horse, to save the day. Even when he continued to campaign, he attacked Obama for campaigning. When his debate stance turned out to be a loser, he showed up at Ole Miss, if only to attack Obama again. The Chinese have a curse, “May you live in exciting times.” Applied to modern times, it means, “May you run an exciting campaign.” In McCain’s version, he makes a judicious use of his middle finger, pointing directly at the American public.

Chutzpah, derived from the Hebrew word ḥuṣpâ, suggests an inordinate, misplaced amount of audacity – something which describes much of McCain’s life quite well. There is no better word to describe his actions at the White House and back in the senate prior to his on again/off again debate appearance. That same arrogance, unrealistic and irrational thinking, has spawned his choice of VP – Sarah “The Moose Hunter” Palin. Who could have ever predicted that McCain could find someone who made Dan Quayle or George W. Bush look good in comparison?

Luckily, only five weeks left of this mess. As Obama’s numbers continue to rise, the stink rising from McCain’s campaign will be so thick, that it will resemble Gary, Indiana’s skyline, before Nixon passed the Clean Air Act, and be just as toxic.


  1. bethesda

    I’m from Bethesda, MD and actually know Phil Tuchman and confirmed the story with him. He went to Walt Whitman High School in the Bethesda area and is only 22 years old. I’m surprised some of the larger news organizations haven’t picked up this story yet since it seems to be a major offense by the McCain campaign.

  2. Rob Kezelis

    In his misguided yute, I am sure his response is, “everybody does it, and you can’t take a joke!” I remember being young and stupid, too. At least, I am no longer young.

    As if concocting lies in any form is some sort of joke. Poor Tuchman. From this day forward, he will have the reputation of being a cheat and a liar, a low priced prostitute for political campaigns. He has destroyed his chance for a more normal life.

    Luckily for him, there are surviving neoconmen who will hire whores like him. But, their future is growing dimmer by the moment.

  3. gazelle1929

    I keep seeing this thing about ghost writing letters and I keep wondering whether there really is anything wrong with it. Politicians write very few of their own speeches; fewer still write their own campaign literature. But in the end they are responsible for it.

    If I understand correctly this Tuchman person is writing drafts and giving them to real people who, if they agree with what he wrote, send it off to newspapers to try to get it into print. I am Joe Citizen, and I approve this message.

    Tuchman is not, to the best of my knowledge, signing fake names or other people’s names to letters to get them printed, something that the Nixon people did many years ago. All he is doing is helping people less articulate than himself get a chance to have their views known.

    I wonder if we are dissing this because it is coming from McCain’s camp. Certainly Obama’s camp is doing the same thing or something similar. If they are not they should be.

  4. Rob Kezelis

    I called the Obama campaign in Chicago. Their spokesperson stated that they do NOT plant letters, nor concoct fake people to push on local papers.

    IN the materials that Tuchman hands out, he says have fun, be creative, pretend to be anyone you want to be. Mr. McCain’s campaign refused to answer my questions on the issue.

  5. Malibu

    Looking for ethics in politics will destroy your life Mr. Kezelis. I tried it in 1992 and failed miserably. I believe you were referring to 9/11 and I absolutely positively agree. That was our Pearl Harbor only we went after the wrong attacker. For this, President Bush will be forever remembered. If anyone forgets what this lying criminal did to our nation I will become a ghost writer and spread the word.

    My first name is Douglas but I do not use it here at CHB for obvious reasons. If we don’t clean up this mess we never again will be a proud nation. Lead us on MacDuff, this Scotsman will follow with my letter-writing skills at the ready. Doug Malcolm at your service…..

  6. Lillibet

    The all have ethics.

    They just aren’t behaving ethically, as most people understand ethical behavior. As such, their ethics are not your ethics, or my ethics. But, according to the rules by which they play the game, they are ethical. It’s just that they have bad ethics, or a bar so low that it fits neatly into the sub-basement of most ethical structures.Lillibet

  7. pollchecker

    McCain Urges Bush To Spend $1 Trillion On Bailout — Without Congressional Approval

    I’m not making this up. John McCain today urged the Bush Administration — on more than one occasion — to immediately and uniliterally spend $1 trillion buying up home mortgages.

    I was watching live when he made the proposal this morning, and it seemed like such a staggeringly insane idea that I assumed he couldn’t be serious. He couldn’t think that Bush should just spend $1 trillion without asking Congress for permission…could he?