Nothing we've ever seen in the history of presidential campaigns can compare to the sheer volume and mendacity of the smears being used in the 2008 campaign, and Barack Obama, the first African-American candidate of a major party, is the primary target of these lies.
To show how common the lies about Obama are, I put together a website called TruthObama.com and compiled a list of 1,117 lies and smears spread about Obama.
The lies against Obama began with a series of chain emails accusing him of being a secret Muslim (he's not), claiming that he was educated in a madrassa in Indonesia (it was a public school), even asserting that he took his oath of office on the Koran (it was a Bible).
Obama's distant connections with 1960s radical William Ayers have become an overwhelming focus of both the McCain campaign and the media. On October 5, 2008, Sean Hannity on the Fox News Channel even presented Andy Martin (infamous for his anti-Semitic legal filings and the originator of the madrassa myth) as a credible source for the latest absurd rumor, that Bill Ayers had recruited Obama at Columbia University to go work as a community organizer as a test of his allegiance to Ayers and their secret plot for revolution.
Barack Obama has said, "If they lie about us, we'll correct the record." But sometimes correcting the record isn't enough. The lie accusing Obama of being a Muslim has been disproven over and over again, by Obama's campaign, by reporters, even by most of his critics. Yet according to a Newsweek poll, the proportion of Americans who incorrectly imagine Obama to be a Muslim has grown as the campaign progressed.
Although right-wing writers and talk show hosts have spread many of the smears against Obama, perhaps the most surprising development of the 2008 campaign has been the willingness of McCain himself to spread lies about Obama.
Joe Klein wrote in Time (Sept. 29, 2008), "McCain's lies have ranged from the annoying to the sleazy, and the problem is in both degree and kind. His campaign has been a ceaseless assault on his opponent's character and policies, featuring a consistent–and witting–disdain for the truth."
In September, Don Sipple, a Republican advertising strategist, told the New York Times, "The last month, for sure, I think the predominance of liberty taken with truth and the facts has been more McCain than Obama."
McCain's propensity for deceit in this campaign has statistical documentation. PolitiFact.com, a nonpartisan project of the St. Petersburg Times and Congressional Quarterly, has examined more than 150 statements from each candidate for their truth value (as of Oct. 30). ObamaMcCain had seven statements so completely false that they were put in the "pants on fire" category, compared to only two for Obama. Altogether, 69 of McCain's 153 statements were deemed "barely true" or worse, compared to only 45 of Obama's 156 statements. Obama's statements were 60% more likely to be true than McCain's; McCain had 54% more statements than Obama that were less than half-truths.
The number of smears and lies is so vast and so often repeated that it overwhelms the ability of the Obama campaign and the press to refute them. Even if they did, it would be almost impossible for any voter to keep track of all the false accusations and separate delusion from reality.
I've utilized many of the excellent fact checkers out there to help assemble this list:
had 49 statements deemed "true," compared to only 30 for