July 2, 2006 · Lessig
The most extraordinary exchange at the McCain event last night was an exchange with McCain prompted by a question by Jonathan Zittrain. Zittrain had asked whether McCain had ever changed his mind. McCain answered that his core philisophies hadn’t changed, but that he had made mistakes that he had acknowledged. He then told the story of his debacle in the South Carolina primary in 2000, when he had said that the use of the Confederate Flag by South Carolina was a matter of states rights.
McCain said that after he lost the primary, he realized this was a mistake. More than a mistake, it was, as he said last night, a “bald face lie” that had ruined him in South Carolina, even though he had told it because he thought it would help him win South Carolina. And he described how he had returned to South Carolina to apologize for the mistake after the election.
What was so striking about this was, of course, not that he had made a “mistake.” But that his mistake was in telling a “bald face lie.” Had Z had a chance at a follow-up, I would have loved to hear the answer to: “So were there any ‘bald face lies’ that worked out for you? Or are you still open to telling ‘bald face lies’ that might help elect you?”