Service Forum: McCain’s Moment of Truthiness

Just finished watching ServiceNation’s presidential forum on national service, and I’m here to give credit where it’s due: Judy Woodruff asked John McCain to explain his running-mate’s disparaging taunts about community organizers vs. those — specifically small-town mayors — with “real responsibilities.”

On Monday, I posted a challenge to forum moderators Woodruff and Richard Stengel to press McCain to explain how he could both laud civic service and allow his surrogates to deride it when it was performed by Barack Obama.

Woodruff and Stengel didn’t really press McCain on the inconsistencies of his own campaign messaging or his rambling response tonight. Still, Woodruff did get him to say that he had tremendous respect for community organizers — “I respect people who serve their community,” McCain said. “And Senator Obama’s record there is outstanding.” — thereby leaving viewers to conclude that his performance tonight was either the height of disingenuousness or that he rejects the views of Palin, Giuliani, and Pataki, all of whom mocked community organizing at the GOP convention.

You be the judge.

Either way, it was a small moment of triumph for the role of journalists in a democracy in an evening otherwise characterized by the kind of tepid give and take usually reserved for a garden party.

Alice Chasan served as editor and associate publisher of Shelterforce from 2007 to 2008.


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