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Watchdogs make it harder for politicians to stretch the truth

Cindy McCain's past is the latest to be questioned after errors were found.

On the stump: Cindy McCain speaks to reporters in Birmingham, Mich. Her arm was sprained when an enthusiastic supporter vigorously shook her hand.

Mary Altaffer/AP

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Gilding the lily is nothing new to politics. From the 1840s when William Henry Harrison claimed to have been born in a log cabin (it was actually a Virginia plantation) to Ronald Reagan's reminiscing about flying over Germany in World War II (he did, but only in a movie), politicians have taken perfectly good stories and embellished them.

This campaign is no exception. During the primaries, Hillary Rodham Clinton had to back away from claims she "ducked sniper fire" in Bosnia in 1996. Mitt Romney found himself having to explain how he "saw my father march with Martin Luther King," when it turned out his father never marched with the Rev. Mr. King.

The latest embellishments come from the McCain camp. Cindy McCain has repeatedly referred to herself as an "only child." This week came news that she actually has two half sisters, although apparently she had very little contact with them.

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