Thursday, August 4, 2011

Kiriath-Arba: "Lipstick on a Pig"

"Stormin Mormon" of the Kiriath-Arba site brought back some nostalgic memories of PolitiFact and the 2008 election with a 2008 post titled "Lipstick on a Pig."

Many will remember how the McCain campaign whined about then-candidate Barack Obama calling Sarah Palin a pig by analogy not long after the Republican convention.  How silly of him, right?

"Stormin Mormon" puts the pieces together correctly, noting the reaction of the crowd to Obama's line while also noting the thin defense set forth by PolitiFact:
Apparently evidence of the fact that this expression has been used in the past somehow expunges Obama from any guilt. That kind of intentionally obtuse analysis is pathetic. Everyone knows "lipstick on a pig" is a common expression, much like "making a purse out of pig's ear" or the more colorful "shining a turd" variants. But just because the expression has previous meaning doesn't mean Obama's comments were innocent. It just means he had the cover he needed to make an obviously pointed reference to Palin and could rely on the sycophants at PolitiFact.org to back him up.
Bingo!  And back him up they did.

One aspect of Obama's speech that remains largely overlooked was his twin analogy dismissing the type of change represented by the McCain/Palin campaign.  He segued straight from the lipstick on a pig comment to talking about "an old fish" wrapped in paper that will still stink. It simply isn't plausible that a twin analogy featuring "old" and "lipstick" in consecutive references is not designed to refer to McCain and Palin.

And Obama seems to wear a knowing smirk throughout.
 


Ah, those were the days!  Here's how PolitiFact summarized its ruling:
We think it's very clear that Obama was saying McCain's effort to call himself the "candidate of change" is like putting lipstick on a pig, trying to dress up a bad idea to look better. Agree or disagree with Obama's point, but his remark wasn't the smear that McCain's people have tried to make it.

If anyone's doing any smearing, it's the McCain campaign and its outrageous attempt to distort the facts. Did Obama call Palin a pig? No, and saying so is Pants on Fire wrong.
It's fair to say that the McCain campaign exaggerated what Obama did.  He didn't call her pig, exactly.  He called her a pig by analogy.  Palin was the pig in lipstick of change and McCain the old fish of change.  The McCain campaign's failure to make that distinction made their complaint backfire.  PolitiFact and the rest of the mainstream media earned an assist, transforming Obama into the victim in the process.

On reading "Game Change," the account of the 2008 presidential campaign by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, I was actually surprised it contained no report of some surreptitious high-fives in celebration of putting one over on the public and the mainstream media.

"Stormin Mormon" made a good set of comments about PolitiFact and the mass media, so visit and read it all.

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