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Pig Lipstick and Sex-Ed

If there were any lingering doubts that Sen. John McCain has completely — and enthusiastically — abandoned his frequent pledge to run an “honorable campaign,” the events of the last 24 hours have laid them to rest.

First, there is the “lipstick on a pig” episode.

In case you missed it, it’s currently being discussed ad infinitum on the cable news networks so you can learn the details there. My colleague Ari Melber and The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder already covered the bases on this one.

I’ll just add that it really represents a new low to which both the cynicism and the maturity level of this campaign has sunk. It is also noteworthy that the McCain camp’s new “Palin Truth Squad” went right to work on this, confirming suspicions that the squad would be just another arm of the McCain campaign’s propaganda operation, rather than an actual instrument of truth.

Second, a McCain campaign ad in response to one from the Obama camp hammering the GOP presidential nominee on education. In the ad, the McCain campaign claims Sen. Barack Obama’s “one accomplishment” on education policy was “legislation to teach comprehensive sex education to kindergartners” as an Illinois state senator. The ad then suggests the purpose of the legislation was to teach young children “about sex before learning to read.”

McClatchy’s Margaret Talev went right to work fact-checking this assertion, ruling that the McCain-Palin campaign delivered a “deliberate low blow.”

This is a deliberately misleading accusation. It came hours after the Obama campaign released a TV ad critical of McCain’s votes on public education. As a state senator in Illinois, Obama did vote for but was not a sponsor of legislation dealing with sex ed for grades K-12.

But the legislation allowed local school boards to teach “age-appropriate” sex education, not comprehensive lessons to kindergartners, and it gave schools the ability to warn young children about inappropriate touching and sexual predators.

What exactly constitutes sex education that is “age-appropriate” for kindergartners? Sen. Barack Obama gave some clarification in 2004. From ABC News:

“Nobody’s suggesting that kindergartners are going to be getting information about sex in the way that we think about it,” said Obama in 2004, according to a Daily Herald clip provided by the Obama campaign. “If they ask a teacher ‘where do babies come from,’ that providing information that the fact is that it’s not a stork is probably not an unhealthy thing. Although again, that’s going to be determined on a case by case basis by local communities and local school boards.’”

Would it be fair to assume that the McCain campaign opposes “warning young children about inappropriate touching and sexual predators?” By the logical standard set by this ad, it seems it would.

I have put in repeated calls yesterday and this morning to the McCain campaign press office, seeking clarification of the Arizona senator’s education positions, but have yet to hear back.

I’m not holding my breath.

So this is where we stand, with just under two months left until the election. In all likelihood, it’s only going to go downhill from here.

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