Pressed to explain why Gov. Sarah Palin had expressed a view on Pakistan that contradicted his, John McCain described any discussion of the matter as "gotcha journalism."
"Look," he said during a joint interview with Palin on CBS Evening News. "I understand this day and age gotcha-journalism. Is that a pizza place? In a conversation with someone who you didn't hear...the question very well, you don't know the context of the conversation. Grab a phrase."
He then added, "Gov. Palin and I agree that you don't announce that you're going to attack another country."
The defense was flimsy. Palin had previously voiced support for targeting terrorists in Pakistan even without that country's approval, during her first national television interview with ABC's Charlie Gibson. Moreover, her statement seemed pretty definitive. Appearing at a Philadelphia restaurant over the weekend, the Alaska Governor said of a raid into Pakistan: "If that's what we have to do to stop the terrorists from coming any further in, absolutely we should."
But the inconsistency of McCain's complaint was what had Democrats barking. At the same time the Senator was arguing that reporters had taken Palin's remark out of context, the Republican National Committee was seemingly doing much worse to a statement made by Barack Obama.
Late on Monday, the committee blasted to reporters a remark made by the Illinois Democrat in which, it claimed, he made a similar gaffe to McCain: mainly, declaring that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. Here is the RNC email:
All - In his address in Westminster, Colorado today, Barack Obama said it is the U.S. economy's "long-term fundamentals that will really make sure this economy grows", even after attacking John McCain for saying the same thing earlier in the speech:
A look at the full quote, however, reveals that Obama was almost assuredly saying the opposite, arguing for the need to address the "long-term fundamentals." Here are the Illinois Democrat's complete remarks:
[We need] a plan that would extend expiring unemployment benefits. For those Americans who have lost their jobs and have been working hard to find a new one, but haven't found one yet. That's part of the change we need. And then after this immediate problem, we've got the long-term fundamentals that will really make sure this economy grows. Change means tax code that doesn't reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses that deserve it. As President I am going to eliminate capital gains taxes for small businesses and start-ups.
The apparent double standard doesn't end there. Over the last several days, McCain's campaign and the RNC have taken Sen. Joseph Biden to task over a rope line comment he made suggesting that the Obama-Biden ticket is opposed to the production of clean coal plants (they are not). And there has been no end to the GOP's use of Obama's now infamous "bitter" comments.
Both of those instances, it should be noted, are fair game. But it therefore becomes unquestionable hypocrisy for McCain to claim, when asked about Palin's Pakistan statement:
"In all due respect, people going around and with sticking a microphone while conversations are being held, and then all of a sudden that's a person's position. It's a free country, but I don't think most people think that's a definitive policy statement by Governor Palin, and I would hope you wouldn't either."