How Dishonorable

What a surprise! John McCain’s latest TV ad blatantly misrepresents a quote from Barack Obama by simply taking out one little phrase and presenting it out of context and calling it “dishonorable” and “dangerous” before concluding that Obama is “too risky for America.” What a sham. Once again, McCain is the dishonorable one. Today’s Washington Post lead editorial breaks it down to illustrate the ad as the blatant distortion that it is:

THE TONE is ominous, the shadings dark. “Who is Barack Obama?” asks the latest campaign advertisement from Sen. John McCain. “He says our troops in Afghanistan are ‘just air-raiding villages and killing civilians’ . . . How dishonorable. . . How dangerous. . . . Too risky for America.”

Here’s what Mr. Obama actually said about Afghanistan in August 2007: “We’ve got to get the job done there, and that requires us to have enough troops so that we’re not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous problems there.” The gap between that reality and the McCain ad — not quite a lie, yet not a fair representation, either — is where the campaigns seem to be heading with four weeks to go until the election.

But the relevance of character can’t excuse an anything-goes assault. Mr. Obama’s use of the word “just” in his statement on Afghanistan was inartful. But Mr. McCain knows perfectly well that Mr. Obama doesn’t believe U.S. troops are killing only civilians. He also knows perfectly well that the problem Mr. Obama described — the alienation of Afghan civilians by military tactics that lead to too many civilian deaths — is real and demands a rethinking of strategy. What’s dishonorable in this case is the McCain ad, not the Obama statement.

This John McCain ad blatantly distorts Barack Obama’s words in an effort to paint him as callous about the role of the U.S. military. His meaning was the opposite of what is portrayed in this spot.

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