Pigs and lipstick? The campaign gets really weird

Jake Turcotte

As Barack Obama said a few days ago, "You can't make this stuff up." And that's true. But this time the campaign went from weird to weirder yesterday due to something else Obama said.

What's the big hoo-haa? The old saying about putting lipstick on a pig changed the conversation from pork (as in earmarks) to the actual farmyard animal. Specifically whether the Democratic nominee called Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin a pig (see video below).


Crazy? Well, when expressing skepticism over whether John McCain can bring about change in Washington, Obama lampooned the idea, using his strategy of tying McCain close to President Bush.

“John McCain says he’s about change too, and so I guess his whole angle is, ‘Watch out, George Bush – except for economic policy, health care policy, tax policy, education policy, foreign policy, and Karl Rove-style politics – we’re really gonna shake things up in Washington."

"That’s not change," Obama continued before launching the land mine. "That’s just calling something the same thing something different. You know you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig."

No harm, no foul, right? After all, as we've noted earlier - many politicians say it. When you Google exactly what Obama said yesterday, Dick Cheney's use of the phrase is the top result.

Too close for comfort

The problem according to the McCain people, is that it was too close to Sarah Palin's stump speech phrase, “You know the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick.”

As a result, the McCain campaign is saying that Obama called Palin a pig. And they went hog-wild in responding to the alleged smear.

A hastily arranged conference call was set-up with the leader of the newly formed Palin truth squad, former Massachusetts Governor Jane Swift.

"Ultimately, I think the American people will realize that calling a very prominent female governor of one of our states a pig is not exactly what we want to see when we supposedly are going to have this great debate that is the politics of hope," Swift said.

New commercial

Today, the Republicans have rolled out a new web ad that presents Palin's "lipstick and pit bull" phrase followed by Barack Obama's "lipstick and pig" phrase followed by Katie Couric. Katie Couric?

It's a a snippet of video from this past June when Couric was talking about media coverage of Hillary Clinton. Couric says, "One of the great lessons of that campaign is the continued and accepted role of sexism in American life."

We'll see how long it takes before Couric gets involved in this kerfuffle.

Tempest in a teapot?

The Obama folks called the reaction"phony."

"Enough is enough," said Obama campaign official Anita Dunn.  "The McCain campaign's attack tonight is a pathetic attempt to play the gender card about the use of a common analogy -- the same analogy that Senator McCain himself used about Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's health care plan just last year."

Former presidential contender Republican Mike Huckabee isn't concerned either.

"It's an old expression, and I'm going to have to cut Obama some slack on that one," Huckabee told Fox News.

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