Posted by: Randy Allgaier | September 14, 2008

McCain’s Sleazy Lie about Obama backed Illinois Sex Education Bill- Let’s set the record straight!

The McCain campaign recently released a new attack ad against Sen. Barack Obama’s sex education policies which was clearly designed to mislead Americans about what comprehensive sexuality education really is and how it can serve families and communities.

The foundation for a healthy life and understanding of sexuality starts with early childhood education and a discussion of the basics. And we are talking about the basics here, folks. Every child, even as young as kindergarten, has the right to a certain level of education about his/her body. Messages included for Level 1 (5 to 8 year olds) in the SIECUS Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education, include:

  • Bodies change as children grow older
  • Everybody can be proud of their body
  • Individual bodies are different sizes, shapes, and colors
  • Girls and boys have many similarities and a few differences
  • Boys and girls have different body parts
  • It is ok to say “no” to adults who are touching you or make you feel uncomfortable

I am always shocked when the Right tries to make Americans afraid of statements like these — statements that are designed to instill in young people a sense of self worth, respect for diversity, and ability to make safe decisions. The Guidelines also provide messages for children on friendship, love, parents, and values — issues that we all care about.

So why the no-holds-barred attack from the Right on the basic American values of education and smart decision making? Because, the more you know about comprehensive sexuality education, the less afraid of it you will be. And, right now, fear is all the right wing has to offer. Sen. McCain, organizations like the National Abstinence Education Association, and other members of the abstinence-only-until-marriage industry are trying to sell the American people on their extremist view of the world by misleading, distorting, and, yes, even lying about comprehensive sexuality education and the policy makers who support it.

It is time that the American people said, “Enough.”

The truth about Obama’s record in the Illinois legislature is that he supported a bill that would have amended the state’s sex education law by allowing more students access to age-appropriate instruction and requiring that all materials be “medically accurate.” Of course students should receive instruction on all subjects that is age appropriate, and I have yet to meet anyone with the chutzpah to say they are against medically accurate information.


  1. The truth is that the legislation clearly states that it’s for the purpose of comprehensive sex education for all students beginning at kindergarten. The claim that it does is completely accurate, as anybody who’s read the actual legislation understands.

    It does not matter a damn bit what Obama claims his “intent” was; what matters is what the legislation does. McCain’s claim was 100% factual, without any possible dispute.

    I do understand why you’re so eager to call McCain a liar, though; Obama never tells the truth, ever. He’s been lying since he began his campaign. Lying about his relationship with a Black Liberationist pastor; lying about his relationship with an unrepentant terrorist; lying about his relationship with a sleazy, felonious slumlord; lying about his record in the legislature; lying about his achievements in his Chicago neighborhood; lying about his associations with Palestinian sympathizers and radical Islamic fund-raisers; lying about his position regarding abortions; lying about his statements on Iraq; on and on and on. He had to divert attention from his own flood of lies. What better way than to pretend his opponent is a liar? That way, if the opponent starts pointing out all of Obama’s lies, it just sounds like he’s engaging in “so’s your old man” tactics. Smart. And smarmy.

    We both know who the REAL liar is, though. Don’t we?

  2. Philwynk your statements about Obama’s support of sex education is laughable. Not one intelligent analysis thinks that this ad is true,

    The ad claims “Obama’s one accomplishment” in the realm of education was “legislation to teach ‘comprehensive sex education’ to kindergarteners.”

    It’s true that the phrase “comprehensive sex education” appeared in the bill, but little else in McCain’s claim is accurate. The ad refers to a bill Obama supported in the Illinois state Senate to update the sex education curriculum and make it “medically accurate.” It would have lowered the age at which students would begin what the bill termed “comprehensive sex education” to include kindergarten. But it mandated the instruction be “age-appropriate” for kindergarteners when addressing topics such as sexually transmitted diseases. The bill also would have granted parents the opportunity to remove their children from the class without question:

    SB 99: However, no pupil shall be required to take or participate in any family life class or course on HIV AIDS or family life instruction if his parent or guardian submits written objection thereto, and refusal to take or participate in such course or program shall not be reason for suspension or expulsion of such pupil.

    The bill also called for all sex education course materials to include information that would help students recognize, among other activities, inappropriate touching, sexual assault and rape:

    SB99: Course material and instruction shall discuss and provide
    for the development of positive communication skills to maintain healthy relationships and avoid unwanted sexual activity. … Course material and instruction shall teach pupils … how to say no to unwanted sexual advances … and shall include information about verbal, physical, and visual sexual harassment, including without limitation nonconsensual sexual advances, nonconsensual physical sexual contact, and rape by an acquaintance. The course material and instruction shall contain methods of preventing sexual assault by an acquaintance, including exercising good judgment and avoiding behavior that impairs one’s judgment.

    The bill passed in the Health and Human Services Committee with Democrats, including Obama, voting along party lines in support of it. But the measure promptly stalled and died in the full Senate, and no action has been taken on it since late 2005.

    Obama is often quoted as saying that when it comes to sex education in public schools, “it’s the right thing to do … to provide age-appropriate sex education, science-based sex education in schools,” placing an emphasis on the word “appropriate.” But Obama has also said he does not support, “explicit sex education to children in kindergarten.”

    In a debate with Republican Alan Keyes, against whom Obama was running for an open seat in the U.S. Senate in 2004, Obama made it clear that at least one reason he supported the bill was that it would help teach young kids to recognize inappropriate behavior and pedophiles:

    Keyes, Oct. 21, 2004: Well, I had noticed that, in your voting, you had voted, at one point, that sex education should begin in kindergarten, and you justified it by saying that it would be “age-appropriate” sex education. [It] made me wonder just exactly what you think is “age-appropriate.”

    Obama: We have a existing law that mandates sex education in the schools. We want to make sure that it’s medically accurate and age-appropriate. Now, I’ll give you an example, because I have a six-year-old daughter and a three-year-old daughter, and one of the things my wife and I talked to our daughter about is the possibility of somebody touching them inappropriately, and what that might mean. And that was included specifically in the law, so that kindergarteners are able to exercise some possible protection against abuse, because I have family members as well as friends who suffered abuse at that age. So, that’s the kind of stuff that I was talking about in that piece of legislation.

    Besides the Obama-Keyes race, this allegation also surfaced during this year’s party primaries when Mitt Romney claimed Obama supported sex education for five-year-olds.

    The ad claims the bill was Obama’s “one accomplishment.” This is doubly false. Obama was neither a cosponsor nor a sponsor of the sex education bill, which never got past “go” in the Senate. So it was not an “accomplishment” at all. Furthermore, Obama can properly claim a number of real accomplishments.

    He was a cosponsor of what became the Chicago Education Reform Act of 2003, which allowed for an increase in the number of Chicago charter schools and required the Chicago Board of Education to enter into a formal partnership with the Chicago Teachers Union to “advance the Chicago Public Schools to the next level of education reform.” He was also a cosponsor of a bipartisan bill to help Illinois high school graduates be eligible for in-state college tuition rates even if they weren’t U.S. citizens

    On the federal level, Obama sponsored three amendments to The America COMPETES Act, which became law in 2007. All three amendments were passed in the Senate by unanimous consent and became law. One amendment proposed language that would create a mentoring program for women and minority groups during their studies in Department of Energy programs. He also proposed language to support summer learning programs and boost their math curricula. And he put forward a requirement that women and minorities be represented in the President’s Science and Technology Summit. Whether or not one considers any of these measures earth-shaking, they’re accomplishments nonetheless

    The ad also features three cherry-picked quotes from the media, highlighting negative comments about Obama’s record and ignoring those directed at McCain. The announcer quotes Education Week contributing blogger David Hoff, saying, “Education Week says Obama ‘hasn’t made a significant mark on education.’ ” The quote is accurate. But the ad leaves out a quote Hoff gathered from Arizona’s Casa Grande Elementary School Superintendent Frank Davidson:

    Davidson (via Education Week): I don’t think [McCain] has a strong track record of putting education at the top of his priorities.

    McCain had used the information about Obama before, and in response, blogger Hoff encouraged readers of the magazine’s election blog to “Read the Obama story and the McCain story and you can decide who has a better track record on K-12 issues.” We agree, you should.

    The ad then quotes a July 7 editorial from The Washington Post, which said “that he’s ‘elusive’ on accountability.” Those words did appear in The Post’s July 7 editorial. At the time, McCain had no education plan to critique, but later, in August, The Post revisited both candidates’ proposals and said McCain’s was “both late in coming and still a work in progress.” It also said “of the two, Mr. Obama has given the issue more attention.”

    The last quote used in McCain’s ad is attributed to the Chicago Tribune and says that Obama is “a ‘staunch defender of the existing public school monopoly.’ ” This is actually from a piece by Steve Chapman, former associate editor of The New Republic and contributing writer to Slate and the conservative publications The Weekly Standard and The National Review. The piece isn’t a Chicago Tribune editorial at all, though it’s made to appear that way in the ad. And Chapman, none too pleased about how his opinion piece was featured in the ad, responded in a Sept. 10 Tribune blog entry with this:

    Chapman: … the ad itself doesn’t bother explaining how the candidates differ on school vouchers, the subject of my column. Instead, it insults our intelligence by expecting us to believe that Obama thinks kindergarteners should be taught how to use condoms before they’re taught to read. Right. And Joe Biden eats puppies for breakfast.

    Now shall we talk about the brain addled Mr. McCain who can’t tell a Sunni from a Shia, who said in the beginning days of this week that our economy is fundamentally sound (and then gave a pathetic explanation that what those fundamentals are are the workers. PLEASE!) He was against the Bush tax cuts before he was for them, he has a history of being a deregulator and now is talking about nothing but regulations) And then there is the completely inept Governor Palin who repeats the lie about saying “Thanks but No Thanks” to the bridge to Nowhere.

    It might be time for you to look beyond Fox News and the National Review for facts.

  3. That it takes you 1500 words to attempt to rebut a 55-word ad, says everything that needs to be said.

    What’s missing from your expansive dissertation, though, is the evidence that Obama did not support “Legislation to teach comprehensive sex education to kindergartners.” It’s missing because he did, in fact, support such legislation — and that’s the only significant claim in the ad. Ergo, the ad is true.

    It could properly be described as Obama’s “one accomplishment” regarding education if it was the only significant education legislation to get passed along to the Illinois Senate by the Health and Human Services committee while Obama chaired that committee.

    I infer from the date of his co-sponsorship of CERA that it was one of the bones Emil Jones threw him in his attempt to make Obama US Senator, and could only be called Obama’s accomplishment if one ignores actual work on the bill, which was written, championed, and passed by others. Obama’s name on it was only a token.

    I’ll grant you that Obama proposed three “everybody agrees” amendments in the US Senate regarding education, though calling those “accomplishment” stretches the word pretty far. The ad researchers apparently focused on the Illinois Senate, and to be completely accurate, should have specified “in the Illinois legislature,” upping the word count to 59. So, yeah, they got that wrong. If that’s the only substance in your complaint, though, you should have stayed home.

    The rest of your 1500 words were simply an ink cloud to obscure the fact that your claim that the ad lied was false. I’m not going to waste my breath addressing them. Go ahead and vote for Obama if you don’t mind a President who’s not competent to run a medium-sized school district and lies every time someone brings up who he really is, but stop selling your integrity to elect him. McCain’s ad was true. Your objections to it are false. And the 40 million Frenchman who interpret the ad the way you do are, likewise, making a false claim. Facts are facts, no matter how many people want to obscure them.

  4. Well, actually most of what I posted – starting with the third paragraph is directly taken from the non-partisan, so the fact that you attribute it to being “an ink cloud to obscure the fact that your claim that the ad lied was false” is rather illuminating.
    I don’t disagree with you that Obama’s campaign has been guilty of mistruths but I think the record is clear that Mr. McCain’s are a more often and more egregious.

    Starting this week, the San Francisco Chronicle is publishing a compilation of “lies, half-truths and contradictions uttered by BOTH of the presidential campaigns and their supporters during the previous week.

    The only reason that my answer was so lengthy was my use of the piece from

    I certainly don’t mind differing opinions and actually I like hearing alternative positions- as long as they are well researched. My only reason for my response to you is that I abhor the personal attacks that are being waged. Senator Obama does not impugn Senator McCain’s character, although he could, but Senator McCain has decided to play the Roveian politics that were used against him in 2000 and I find that sad.

    Can we both agree that Senator Obama’s and Senator McCain’s campaign are guilty of some distortions? But I sense that you and I both have a horse in this race and maybe we should rely on non-partisan sources to assess the truth as much as possible. I have atempted to do so, I hope you will as well.

  5. Can we both agree that Senator Obama’s and Senator McCain’s campaign are guilty of some distortions.

    I’m not going to play the parity game, because I don’t see parity. I have yet to see a significant distortion from the McCain camp. I do see hard-hitting ads that focus on very specific claims, against which it is possible to bring in explanatory or exculpatory information in a larger discussion — but that’s the nature of 30-second political ads. I mentioned the “55-word” count because that’s part of the point: there’s only so much detail one can include in a 30-second, 50-word video.

    I should add that I particularly hate this sort of ad, and deplore the fact that elections are decided by sound bites rather than sound analysis. But they are, it’s a fact, and we have to live with it.

    I have not done a broad analysis of Obama’s ads. I do know that Obama’s ad responding to Gianna Jessen’s appeal from contained at least 2 outright falsehoods: he denied his opposition to the Illinois born-alive legislation, and he tried to link Jessen’s ad to the McCain campaign. I have not seen similar falsehoods in McCain’s advertising.

    I have, moreover, seen a number of ugly tactics assigned to surrogates probably by the Obama campaign, although it’s difficult to prove it. The Clinton campaign noted the same while running against Obama. The mob-rule tactics attempting to shut down dissent are particularly troubling; I’ve written about some of those incidents here on my blog, here, here, and here. The flood of outright lies about Gov. Palin during the weeks following the Republican Convention was appalling — and I’m fairly sure at least some of them came from inside the Obama campaign. And then, of course, there is Obama’s long string of implausible denials of associations with radicals of various stripes; the truth is that Obama is a radical himself, but wants to hide it because he knows America will never knowingly elect a radical to high office. Barack Obama is not an honest man.

    Now, if you’ll do a search on “McCain” on my blog, you’ll discover that I don’t think John McCain is all that honest a man, either. Honesty is an odd thing; most of us are dishonest at some level, so what we’re comparing here is a difference of degree more than one of type. However, I perceive that Obama is dishonest at a more foundational level than McCain. That sounds like I’m splitting hairs, though I don’t think I am; I’ll be writing about this soon.

    maybe we should all rely on non-partisan sources to assess the truth as much as possible.

    I would like nothing better. The problem is that sources that are supposed to be non-partisan, and which claim to be non-partisan, have become increasingly partisan over the decades, and thus unreliable. That’s the reason media bias is so pernicious; when a large body of sources claiming to be neutral actually take sides (while continuing to claim neutrality), nothing can be trusted.

    My answer for the time being is to find as many primary source documents as I can, and to use my own judgment. That’s the best I can do.

    I hold the Annenberg Foundation in high regard, but the analysis of McCain’s education ad is simply wrong. The ad teases a sound bite out of some obscure stuff, but nothing there is false. And let’s not forget, the reason McCain has to tease sound bites out of obscurity is that Obama’s true self is buried in obscurity.

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