“One of the benefits of a presidential campaign is the character and capability, judgment and temperament of every single one of us is revealed over time and under pressure.”

Since presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina made that comment at the start of the second Republican debate, there have been some telling revelations about her character and her judgment. Caught making a false claim, she couldn’t just admit she made a mistake but instead doubled down and worsened the falsehood.

Arguing during the Sept. 16 GOP debate to defund Planned Parenthood, Fiorina offered this description of a disturbing scene that was supposedly captured on controversial undercover videos of the organization: “Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.”

No such scene exists, as even some of her defenders have had to admit. Fiorina was challenged by Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace to acknowledge “what every fact checker has found”: that the scene was only described by someone who claimed to have witnessed it but was not shown in the video.

Fiorina could have acknowledged her error while maintaining, fairly, that the tapes contain other disturbing images and language and while affirming her objections to Planned Parenthood. Instead she insisted: “No, I don’t accept that at all. I’ve seen the footage.” She went on the attack against the mainstream media, and her supporters concocted a video that splices video and audio from different places in an effort to buttress her claims.

Most deceptive in the Carly for America video is use of an image (also used in the videos produced by the Center for Medical Progress) of a fetus born prematurely, not aborted, at 19 weeks of development. The premature birth by a Pennsylvania woman had no connection to Planned Parenthood or to abortion. That, though, didn’t stop Fiorina’s supporters from using it — with the voice-over and caption of “Here’s a stomach, heart, kidney, and adrenal” — to support specious allegations of Planned Parenthood selling fetal tissue for profit.

Fiorina may have deeply felt objections to abortion. That doesn’t excuse her use of untruths to justify her willingness to shut down the government, which by the way she seems to consider no big deal. “I’m not aware of any hardship to anyone, other than the veterans trying to get to the World War II memorial,” she said of the last shutdown.

When it comes to character and capability, that kind of blithe ignorance is another worrying sign.

Editorial by The Washington Post