Democracy Has Prevailed.

August 18, 2008

More On McCain Lies

Hat Tip to Crooks and Liars.

Seems that Mr Straight Talk Express offered up a little white lie this past weekend regarding the so called "cone of silence."

For those who don't know the story, Andrea Mitchell had this to say on Meet The Press regarding the previous night's appearances of Senators Obama and McCain:
The Obama people must feel that he didn't do quite as well as they might have wanted to in that context, because that--what they're putting out privately is that McCain may not have been in the cone of silence and may have had some ability to overhear what the questions were to Obama.

There are a number of issues playing out here and can be summed up with these (what some philosophers might call) statements of fact. They are either true or false:

  • Mitchell said the Obama folks were speculating that McCain might not have been in the cone of silence
  • McCain was in the cone of silence
  • Whether being out of the cone gave him any sort of advantage

The first one is relatively insignificant as it hinges on whether the Obama folks were speculating or not. If they were, that statement is simply true. It's the second one that's at issue here.

At the appearance, McCain seemed to imply that he WAS in the cone of silence:

Warren: Now my first question was the cone of silence comfortable that you were in just now?

McCain: I was trying to hear through the wall.

McCain's joke actually covered up his lie - he wasn't in the "cone of silence." He was actually in his motorcade on the way to the appearance and then in the green room waiting to go on. The New York Times backs up Andrea Mitchell here:

Senator John McCain was not in a “cone of silence” on Saturday night while his rival, Senator Barack Obama, was being interviewed at the Saddleback Church in California.

Members of the McCain campaign staff, who flew here Sunday from California, said Mr. McCain was in his motorcade on the way to the church as Mr. Obama was being interviewed by the Rev. Rick Warren, the author of the best-selling book “The Purpose Driven Life.”

Whether that gave him any sort of advantage is a completely separate issue and it doesn't erase the fact that McCain LIED to a national audience. To a pastor.

A truthful answer would have been, "Actually I was in the motorcade on the way here and then in the green room..." Anything else is a lie of omission.

Indeed this part's been confirmed by the McCain camp. In his protest letter to NBC, McCain Campaign Manager Rick Davis wrote:

The fact is that during Senator Obama's segment at Saddleback last night, Senator McCain was in a motorcade to the event and then held in a green room with no broadcast feed.

Note that he did NOT say that McCain was completely cut off from the segment. Was he or wasn't he? Did he receive any communication that would have aided him that evening?

Until we have proof otherwise we have to at least speculate that he had. I mean, the whole purpose of the "cone of silence" was to make sure everyone had proof that there'd be no contact and no advantage. Without the cone no one can be sure. And that's the point.

In any event, McCain LIED to a pastor. On television. And this is trustworthy?


John K. said...

John K: Yah that rumour began circulating on the internet early this AM.  Like before the sun came up.  The conventional wisdom  is that Obama had to blame his failure on something.  And if it makes you liberals feel better about Hussein Obama and the fact that he really cannot speak off script, fine with me.  The people know the truth.

John K. said...

John K: Heck, you left wingers supported a Presidential candidate who lied to his wife while she had cancer.  Now you get morality?  But this excuse is standard operating procedure for the left.  Lose an election it was rigged.  Lose a vote it was corrupt.  Lose a debate, the other guy was coached. Went to that well one too many times.  You lose, get over it.

John K. said...

John K: Red Alert! FOX News is running an expose on Hussein Obama.  Red Alert! Get Andrea Mitchell to debunk it.  Get Olbermouth on it.

Anonymous said...

Actually, John, Rick Warren described Obama's performance at his forum as a "homerun," so there's hardly any excuses that I hear anyone on the left making.

The Saddleback forum was not a debate, but at least Sen. Obama showed he was capable of having a conversation with someone whereas John McCain was desperately clinging to the memory of what he was told to say.

Most people that I know, when having a conversation, don't rely so heavily on one-word catchphrases as McCain did. Nor do they recite verbatim from their stump speech.

It says something about McCain that he can't just sit down and talk, that his first instinct is to score political points. Frankly, it makes one think that McCain is trying to hide who he really is behind a conveniently crafted array of sloganeering, sentimental stories and over-the-top rhetoric.

While it's certainly true that the Obama campaign suspected that McCain was not in the "cone of silence," it was McCain's own campaign that confirmed this when they wrote their nasty letter to NBC demanding subservience.

Now, I'm sorry that you're so bitterly partisan that you can't see the problem with the situation. I'm sorry that you don't support fairness and decency and plain ol' good sportsmanship in our electoral contests.

I expect attacks, I expect it to get dirty and nasty. That's just politics - but getting the questions before your asked when that's not the situation being presented to the voters is flat-out disingenuous.

I wouldn't expect such a moral person like yourself to rationalize something like this away, which is what you're doing when you try to connect this to John Edwards' affair. That is nothing more than you saying, "But you do it too, so neener-neener-nah-nah!"

Had McCain not thrown a hissy-fit over this, I doubt it would have been much of a story. But now it is incumbent upon them, since they confirmed McCain was not in a "cone of silence," to prove that the McCain camp had no access to cell phones/blackberries with internet access, a radio, etc. - any device that would have permitted them to hear the questions and answers from Sen. Obama.

For them to say that they were simply in a car(not an answer) and then a green room with no broadcast feed(not an answer) is simply not good enough. Until they can prove beyond a doubt otherwise, reporters will probably keep after this story for a few days.

But you've obviously picked up the line of attack from the daily conservative radio circle-jerk which is to attack and impugn the character of anyone who dares question Sen. McCain.

Look, if you don't like the fact that reporters are allowed to ask questions and follow-up on leads, then I suggest you build a time machine, travel back to Stalinist Russia and subscribe to Pravda.

Otherwise, stop crying, because this habitual response of conservatives/Republicans when anyone dares to question them is nothing more than schoolyard bullying and no one is under any obligation to back down simply because a story makes John McCain angry.

Personally, I'm proud that my candidate can think on his feet and give genuine answers, whereas conservatives like yourself have to wake-up each day, try not to vomit at the thought of supporting John McCain(I guess you were against him before you were for him, eh?) and hope he remembers everything he's told to say. Thank goodness for Joe Lieberman, huh?

Anonymous said...

And John McCain can stop trying to wriggle out of this by limiting it to what John McCain did or didn't hear.

No, this story is as much about Davis and Black and the other Karl Rove devotees that make up McCain's staff.

I'm sure the voters would love to meet the lobbyists McCain has hand-picked to run the country were he to win in November.

m dachshund said...

But Mr. McCain--as does my old and crazy relative, who goes after the squirrels and pigeons in his yard every season, says he "know(s) how to get 'em" and "will follow 'em to the gates of hell."

Joe Magarac said...

To insinuate that McCain, a former adulterer, cheated is outrageous.

John K. said...

John K: Warren also said McCain did not hear the questions in advance.  Sort of confirms what I said in response to the orginal blog post.  That Hussein Obama got crushed and Andrea Mitchell had to come to the rescue with something. LMAO

John K. said...

John K: And Karl Rove is involved.  *Yawn, so what else is new from the left.  I mean you got anything else.  Anything!  Come on here you got to have something.  Oh yah Cullen is off the air. LMAO

billrott said...

The McCain camp and Warren confirmed Andrea's report yesterday. I do not understand what grounds they have to be outraged.

Her report was that John McCain may not have been in the alleged "cone of silence". Both Warren and John confirmed this fact. They then went further and stated that John was also not excluded from blackberries and radio.

I don't think John cheated and hope I am right. If John did cheat, it will be clear during the upcoming debates. All in all, this story is a non-story made into a story by the McCain camp not NBC.

cathcatz said...

how will it be clear in the debates? and if it IS clear, does that mean that anyone will admit it?

seriously, no one admitted it when we all clearly saw that bush had in an earpiece during his debates with kerry. or do you all still contend that it was photo-shopped?

Richmond K. Turner said...

David, everytime you stretch this far to make McCain look evil, you make yourself look inherrently dishonest, and the degree to which I buy into any of your arguments goes down another notch.

First of all, there is no such thing as a "cone of silence". It was a recurring gag on the old Get Smart sitcom from the 1960s, and it doesn't exist in real life. So there is no way on earth that McCain could have been in it. Should he have revealed that when asked the question? Because that would have gone over really well, and made him look so very palatable to voters. "Actually, Rick, it's hard to say. I don't know if you are aware of this, but there actually isn't any such thing as a cone of silence. I realize that maybe you are trying to make a joke here, and I could respond with a joke of my own. But hell, if I did that, that blogger David up in Pittsburgh might accuse me of lying to you. So instead of going along with the little joke you made, I think it's far better for me to give a stilted response that makes me look like a humorless old codger. Especially since we didn't get to see many episodes of "Get Smart" in the Hanoi Hilton."

Yeah, that would have been much better.

But let's say that he was in some kind of room that was guaranteed to be soundproof or something. By your logic, he should have responded to the "cone of silence" question with something akin to, "Actually Rick, it wasn't all that conical in shape. In fact, I wouldn't even call it cylindrical. If anything, the room look more cubic in form. I only say this because anything less would a lie of ommission."

If the room in question wasn't in the shape of a cone -- and conical rooms are fairly rare -- that's the only answer that would have sufficed for you. Then again, given your history on this topic, I'm sure you would have found something else in McCain's words to become even more outraged about.

In actuality, McCain was never asked to confirm that he had been kept in a "cone of silence", he was only asked if he had been comfortable. Nothing in McCain's response suggested that he had, in fact, been in any kind of isolation during Obama's time on stage. In fact, he even (humorously) suggested that he had been trying to hear how Obama was doing.

But at the end of the day, it's a 2-second joke (and a rather good one at that) in response to a rather obvious lead-in joke question by the moderator. When you, the New York Times, and Crooks and Liars, all go absolutely bonkers by disecting a 2-second joke and calling the man a "liar" over it, you are going so very far overboard that you totally undermine your credibility on things that really do matter.

Anyone who watched McCain on Saturday night knows that this was all just a joke, just like they know that his $5 million annual income remark was something of a joke. By taking it as seriously as you are, however, you are making yourself -- and your usually excellent arguements -- look like a joke instead.

Attacking McCain on every last word he utters is not going to help your cause. There are so many good reasons to vote for Obama. Don't make people tune you out by focusing on these very weak reasons to vote against McCain.

John K. said...

John K: Now on the last lines in Ed Heath's post I agree.  Blame the Obama debate failure on Rove or even Rumsfield.  Keep trashing McCain for every 'I' he fails to dot and 'T' he fails to cross.  Gallup has then both at 44%.  Keep it up, its so working for McCain.

cathcatz said...

i think we all understand that the "cone of silence" was not literal. it's something that pastor warren put out there himself, as if to assure us that neither will have an advantage over the other by knowing specific questions, or the other candidate's answers, in advance of their appearance.

it's not clear that mccain did not have that advantage, and simply by the responses he gave, the "stories" that he had ready to go, it would appear that he DID have an awareness, not only of the questions, but also of the answers that sen. obama gave.

just imagine the flap, had mccain gone first, while obama motored his way to the forum.

they both should have been there at the same time. and to be fair, the candidate appearing second should have been sequestered. why would anyone want the appearance of impropriety?

John K. said...

John K: Well, there you go again, Cathcatz, in the words of Reagan.  You are divining thoughts and actions into other people based on your own baises.  There is no evidence to support what you said.  In fact, it was refuted by Mr. Warren on FOX news.  The left can never accept that their candidate got beat.  Its always some sort of conspiracy or manipulation.  Which is sad because the left can never grow without recognizing the facts.

cathcatz said...

did you just site fox news as a source? really?

i watched interviews with pastor warren, both before and after the forum. he said they would be sequestered. mccain was NOT. by admission of his own campaign, he was en route.

and if i had that kind of power, to "divine thoughts into people" based on my own bias... i'd rule the friggin world.

that made no sense at all.

it's you and yours who can't handle the fact that obama had an entelligent conversation with the evangelical community, and mccain gave a prepared stump speech to a bunch of people who know that he's a womanizing liar.

cathcatz said...



*preemptory strike against the spelling police, of which i remain a proud member*

billrott said...

It will be clear in the debates for McCain will not have the ability to pull such moves if he did them here. The debates are not going to provide him answers/questions ahead of time.

Additionally, the stellar performance by John at teh forum will now wake obama up that he has to bring a-game to the table against John.

Whether John was or was not in the "cone of silence" is a silly issue. The election needs to be fought and won on the real issues not these side parlor games. The fact we are wasting so much time on this topic and not the substance of what the candidates said during the forum is sad and distrubing.

Anonymous said...


With all due respect-- what are you trying to argue about here? This whole topic seems oddly like "grasping." Why must we grasp at such ideas-- and hold so tightly to them-- when in the grand scheme, they may not be as significant as we first thought?

Topics like abortion, however, going back to a previous post, cannot fall into the "grasping" category, as some would like to believe. Unfortunately, even Sean Hannity, a conservative, stated on several occasions that abortion is a "petty and superfluous" issue. I certainly disagree.

Let us get a grasp (no pun intended) on what we need to be really focusing on here (and I DON'T mean just abortion... but on the bigger truths, perhaps? I'm just thinking out loud).

McCain and Obama were not in a "debate" the other night. So for you to use words like McCain having an "advantage" over Obama-- it just doesn't make sense. Here were two candidates, answering difficult questions. That's it.

Dayvoe said...


Sorry but I think you missed the point.

Of COURSE there was no LITERAL "cone of silence." I'd thought I transmited that idea in my first sentence when I called it the "so-called 'cone of silence'." That's what the "so-called" was all about.

If you extend the metaphor Warren et al intended, the "cone of silence" to mean some sort of room where Senator McCain would have absolutely no chance of hearing Senator Obama speak. So when Rick Warren asked McCain about it and the latter let everyone think he was in it (when he knew he wasn't) that was the lie.

For a thought experiment, imagine if it was Senator Obama caught in a similar lie. Fox "News" would still be talking about it. McCain, though, gets a pass.

One thing troubles me greatly, though. You wrote:
In actuality, McCain was never asked to confirm that he had been kept in a "cone of silence", he was only asked if he had been comfortable.
How can you say that when the transcript (Rick Warren's CERTIFIED transcript, by the way) actually says:
Now my first question was the cone of silence comfortable that you were in just now?

Sir, I must say that I'm disappointed.

Richmond K. Turner said...

David, no matter how many mental backflips you do, you are still going way to far to stretch a 2-second joke into something that (in your mind) justifies calling McCain a "liar".

You can keep quoting that transcript all you like, but you are deliberately ignoring everything you learned in 7th grade grammar class to twist that question into something that it's not. Somehow, you see it as an request for McCain to confirm that he was being kept in isolation. But when someone presents you with, "Now my first question was the cone of silence comfortable...", then -- and I'm hardly going out on a limb here -- the topic of the interogative is pretty clearly, "was [it] comfortable?".

And yet, even if one dons your "everything McCain does or ever has done is evil" perspective and accepts that the Senator was somehow being asked to confirm his sequestration in the cone of silence, you are still on the wrong side of this one. Because McCain did not confirm it, and directly stated that he had tried to skirt the rules and listen in on the proceedings.

Nevertheless, this was -- dare I point it out again -- a fucking joke. A throw-away laugh line. If the situation were reversed, and if Fox News were claiming that Obama was somehow a "liar" for the exact same exchange, you would be defending him. Vehemently.

The difference between us, my friend, is that I would be defending him, too. My perspectives on these things don't depend on which side is doing them, but you have now shown -- repeatedly -- that your ideas of right and wrong are hopelessly skewed by the political affiliation of the perpetrator.

What is perhaps most disturbing is the following passage of your response:

For a thought experiment, imagine if it was Senator Obama caught in a similar lie. Fox "News" would still be talking about it. McCain, though, gets a pass.

What you are essentially saying is that your stated goal for this campaign is to become as slimy as Fox News. You aren't doing Obama any favors by pulling him into the mud with posts like this one. Fox News is trite, biased, silly, and can't be relied upon to analyze the facts in anything approaching an objective manner.

And you want to be just like them. Well, congratulations, my friend, because you are succeeding.

Dayvoe said...


I can assure you that I'm not the one doing backflips - mental or otherwise. As for stretching things, your accusation that I have the perspective "everything McCain does or ever has done is evil" is the stretch here as I do not believe that. But perhaps we can chalk that point up to a difference of relative political frames of reference.

Let me state that I pointed out in my original posting that McCain used a joke as an answer to Rick Warren's question. Here's what I said:

McCain's joke actually covered up his lie.


I didn't miss that when he said that he was trying to listen through the wall he was joking.

But sorry to say, your logical analysis in this sentence is surprisingly lacking:
Somehow, you see it as an request for McCain to confirm that he was being kept in isolation. But when someone presents you with, "Now my first question was the cone of silence comfortable...", then -- and I'm hardly going out on a limb here -- the topic of the interogative is pretty clearly, "was [it] comfortable?".

You're not seeing your own error here. The question, obviously, was whether McCain was comfortable - but comfortable when he was in isolation.

My point (as it has always been) was that by answering as he did (even with a joke) McCain communicated a picture of reality that did not conform to the truth.

That's a lie of omission. He knew he wasn't in isolation and when asked about the isolation he gave an answer that let everyone think he was in isolation.

Let's say you and I decide to meet face to face in Boston. We're having a beer at Quincy Market and I ask, "How was your flight? Was it comfortable?" and you joke "Just flew in from Pennsylvania and boy are my arms tired." I think I'd be able to safely assume that you traveled by air.

Now if you drove to Boston and yet told me that same joke, wouldn't that be a lie of omission?

Even if it took 2 seconds? Even if your response was only a joke?

I can't get it any clearer than that - so if there isn't any more to this, you'll forgive me if I move on to something more interesting.


Anonymous said...


That's quite a stretch to say that Dayvoe is "trying to make McCain look evil" simply by calling McCain a liar.

David has a very valid point, namely when McCain made that joke it was with McCain's full awareness that it was not the case, he was not in the building as viewers of the program had been led to believe and all of this was confirmed when McCain's campaign acknowledged in their letter to NBC that McCain was in fact en route to the program.

If I learned that my candidate's campaign may have possibly received questions to a forum such as Saddleback in advanced, via a wireless device, etc. which the McCain camp will not deny, then I would be extremely disappointed in my candidate, especially when both campaigns are presented in a forum where the implication is that neither one has advance knowledge of the questions.

The right and "concern trolls" have questioned Obama's patriotism, they've attacked his wife, they've helped foster rumors and lies about his religion, about his birth certificate, about any number of unsubstantiated smears. Every day it seems there's a new lie the right is telling about Obama.

And yet for some reason the right expects us on the left to just sit back and take it?

No offense, Richard, but I seem to recall that you always have a lot of concern for what this blog does, but never have I read you chastise what certainly a person of your integrity would regard as similar behavior from the McCain campaign. With that in mind it's not all that surprising that you employ a lot of strawmen and arguments about semantics.

Frankly, there is absolutely no reason to expect supporters of Obama, such as myself, to not respond in kind to the lies and smears of the right and McCain's campaign.

It is very telling that the wingers, such as John K., while certainly very good at making accusations, have devised all manner of crying when anyone dare question the infallibity of their candidate - they blame the media or accuse their opponents of what they've just been accused of or feign moral outrage at the questioning. At the end of the day, it all adds up to so much bullshit and the Republicans are in it up to the whiskers on their chinny-chin-chins.

Within this thread the feigned outrage is thick because on this matter - for as trivial as it is though rather revealing of McCain's character - McCain's camp is knee-deep in it for confirming that McCain was, in fact, not in an environment that precluded his or his campaign staff's ability to hear the questions ahead of time, which is NOT what viewers were led to believe. Not in the least.

If we're going to defend blatant efforts to decieve the voters, then it probably doesn't matter who wins because we'll probably get who we deserve.