The most disheartening aspect of a scurrilous Republican ad falsely accusing Barack Obama of promoting sex education for kindergarten children is its closing line: “I’m John McCain, and I approved this message.”
This from that straight-talker of yore, who fervidly denounced the 2004 Bush campaign’s Swift Boat character attacks on John Kerry’s military record.
What a difference four years makes, especially after Mr. McCain secured the nomination by hiring some of the same low-blow artists from the Bush campaign.
The kindergarten ad flat-out lies: telling voters that Mr. Obama’s “one accomplishment” in education was to favor “comprehensive” sex education for 5-year-olds. “Learning about sex before learning to read?” intones the voice-over, as a blur of respected sources are cited — none of them accurately, as they have proclaimed.
The truth is that as an Illinois legislator, Mr. Obama favored a sensible bill supported by many mainline organizations — including the Illinois Parent Teacher Association, the Illinois State Medical Society and the Illinois Public Health Association — to provide an “age and developmentally appropriate” sex education curriculum for older students. At most, kindergarteners were to be taught the dangers of sexual predators. And parents of children of all ages had the right to withdraw their children from the classes.
Surely, Senator McCain knows that all that change he’s promising for the tooth-and-claw Washington culture must start on the hustings. Yet, the kindergarten ad that he’s blessed signals that his goal is shamefully more of the same.
The way these ads work, this one is already playing over and over on the Web as a free-media “ghost,” in professional parlance — too late for any cynical expression of regret by Mr. McCain. And no regret has been offered.
The lesson for voters is to be wary of all ads from the McCain machine. The lesson for Mr. McCain is that if he really believes in straight talk, he should fire his ad writers and any aide who believes that the best way to win the presidency is to lie to American voters.