During my first year as an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times, I wasn’t allowed to use the word “lie.”
That first year coincided with the 2000 election, and George W. Bush was, in fact, being systematically dishonest about his economic proposals — saying false things about who would benefit from his tax cut and the implications of Social Security privatization. But the notion that a major party’s presidential candidate would go beyond spin to outright lies still seemed outrageous, and saying it was considered beyond the pale.
Obviously that prohibition no longer holds on this opinion page, and major media organizations have become increasingly willing to point out raw falsehoods. But they’ve been chasing a moving target, because the lies just keep getting bigger and more pervasive. In fact, at this point the G.O.P.’s campaign message consists of nothing but lies; it’s hard to think of a single true thing Republicans are running on.
And yes, it’s a Republican problem (and it’s not just Donald Trump). Democrats aren’t saints, but they campaign mostly on real issues, and generally do, in fact, stand for more or less what they claim to stand for. Republicans don’t. And the total dishonesty of Republican electioneering should itself be a decisive political issue, because at this point it defines the party’s character.