“How important is it for candidates to tell the truth?,” asks Elizabeth Kolbert in an 8.11 New Yorker essay. “Throughout his long career in politics, John McCain, who called his PAC Straight Talk America, has presented frankness as his fundamental virtue. [But] the past few weeks have seen a change in McCain. He has hired new advisers, and with them he seems to have worked out a new approach.
“He is no longer telling the sorts of hard truths that people would prefer not to confront, or even half-truths that they might find vaguely discomfiting. Instead, he’s opted out of truth altogether.
“Recent history suggests that Presidential campaigns don√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t reward integrity; the candidate who refuses to compromise his principles is unlikely to have a chance to act on them. Still, McCain’s slide is saddening. That he has sunk to the level of ‘Pump'” — the ad that more or less blamed Barack Obama for rising gas prices — “a full month before Labor Day really doesn√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t leave him — or the race — far to go.”
Added N.Y. Times columnist Maureen Dowd said in yesterday’s column that “McCain’s mouth is moving but the words coming out belong to his new hard-boiled strategist, Steve Schmidt, a Rove prot√ɬ©g√ɬ©, nicknamed ‘The Bullet’ for his bald pate. Schmidt has turned Mr. Straight Talk into Mr. Desperate Straits. It√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s not a good trade. ”