The Washington Post's David Broder wrote that Sen. John McCain “is the rare exception who is not assumed to be willing to sacrifice personal credibility to prevail in any contest,” while Sen. Hillary Clinton “ha[s] added to her reputation for opportunism” with "[t]he negative attacks she has launched against [Sen. Barack] Obama." It was the second time this week that a Post columnist has explicitly contrasted McCain's and Clinton's credibility and perceived integrity, suggesting that the former is motivated by principle, and the latter, by a desire to win, ignoring McCain's numerous falsehoods committed during his presidential campaign.
In his April 24 Washington Post column, David Broder contrasted Sen. John McCain with Sen. Hillary Clinton and wrote that "[i]n an age of deep cynicism about politicians of both parties, McCain is the rare exception who is not assumed to be willing to sacrifice personal credibility to prevail in any contest." The column marked the second time in one week that a Post columnist has explicitly contrasted McCain's and Clinton's credibility and perceived integrity, while refusing to acknowledge McCain's numerous falsehoods, including distortions and misrepresentations of statements by his opponents, or to consider them as indicative of a willingness to sacrifice principle to win. Similarly, in his April 22 column, Richard Cohen also left out any mention of McCain's numerous falsehoods in asserting that, in contrast with Clinton, McCain could succeed in “the solemn task of the next president to restore ... trust” in the U.S. government.
In the April 24 column, Broder wrote of Clinton: “The negative attacks she has launched against [Sen. Barack] Obama have hurt him but equally have added to her reputation for opportunism.” Similarly, while pronouncing McCain able to restore the public's trust in government, Cohen wrote of Clinton on April 22: “She wants to become president so badly that she has made the goal more important than how she gets there.” Neither mentioned McCain's numerous falsehoods or inconsistencies in this campaign, much less explain why, in their minds, those falsehoods and inconsistencies are not indicative of “opportunism” or a willingness to “sacrifice personal credibility to prevail in any contest.”
Further, Broder's assertion that McCain is “not assumed to be willing to sacrifice personal credibility to prevail” overlooks the role of the media, including Broder, in fostering that assumption. As Media Matters for America has repeatedly documented (here, here, here, here, here, and here), the media routinely refer to McCain as a straight-talker who resists pandering, despite evidence to the contrary, including his repeated claim that he voted against President Bush's tax cuts because they weren't paired with spending cuts -- a different reason from the one he gave in 2001 when he voted against the tax cuts; his false claim during the campaign that he called for Donald Rumsfeld's resignation as Defense secretary; his misrepresentations of statements by Obama and Mitt Romney; his admittedly false claim that Iran is training Al Qaeda; and his reversals on immigration, taxes, and the religious right.
From Broder's April 24 Washington Post column, “The Democrats' Worst Nightmare”:
In weeks of struggle that he could have devoted to his uphill fight in Pennsylvania, Obama was unable to put to rest the controversies over his relationship with his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and his own misguided effort to offer an explanation of what he called “bitter” rural Pennsylvanians finding solace in religion, rifles and immigrant-bashing.
How many votes that cost him on Tuesday is uncertain, but it clearly raised doubts about his penchant for distracting issues.
Yet, in pointing to those vulnerabilities in her rival, Clinton has heightened the most obvious liability she would carry into a fight against McCain. In an age of deep cynicism about politicians of both parties, McCain is the rare exception who is not assumed to be willing to sacrifice personal credibility to prevail in any contest.
Clinton had seeded doubts about her own character long before this campaign began through her record as a polarizing figure, her secrecy and her obvious prevarications. But in the seven weeks between Ohio and Pennsylvania, a Post poll found shockingly high percentages of voters who regard Clinton as dishonest and untrustworthy. The negative attacks she has launched against Obama have hurt him but equally have added to her reputation for opportunism.