BOW Award Time!

October 5, 2008

First of all, a belated Birthday shout-out to my friend Mark Wise!  Sorry I didn’t do this the other day, my friend.  Hope it was a great day.

We’re into the silly season of this campaign, and today’s BOW (Buffoon Of the Week) Award is going to reflect that.  What do I mean by “silly season”?  Well, we’re less than a month away from election day, and despite what conservative commentators and pollsters on television might say, these are desperate times for the McCain-Palin campaign.  It’s not that they can’t win — of course they still can.  But the number of Presidential candidates who have been down this far (between 6 and 8 points in most national polls) this late in the campaign and have come back to win is pretty small.  So it’s time for McCain and company to “go negative.”  And it’s already begun.

So let’s get to it.  The attacks and smears coming out of the McCain-Palin camp are already bordering on the ridiculous, and the claims about Obama’s record range from misleading to out-and-out lies.  There’s the claim, first made months ago and repeated by Sarah Palin several times in Thursday night’s debate, that Obama voted 94 times to raise taxes. begs to differ.   More than half of these votes were on non-binding budget resolutions that didn’t raise taxes on anyone.  They counted multiple votes on several bills — so 17 votes were on only seven bills.  And at least seven of those votes actually were to lower taxes on many while raising them only on corporations or affluent taxpayers.

There are the repeated claims that Obama’s health care provisions will result in a “huge government bureaucracy” that will take away people’s rights to choose their own doctors.  This, too, is nonsense, as even a cursory read of Obama’s health plan will show.

I could go on, but I won’t.  There are lots of distortions on both sides right now.  Obama’s claims about McCain’s social security proposals and their relationship with the stock market have been equally misleading, and deserving of a nomination.  And the same can be said about some of the Obama-Biden campaign’s charges about aspects of McCain’s health care proposals.

But in the last few days (including during the debate the other night), John McCain and Sarah Palin have crossed the line.  Just yesterday Sarah Palin said that Barack Obama “pals around with terrorists” citing as evidence for this ridiculous claim that Barack Obama has had some connection with William Ayers, the former co-founder of the Weather Underground.  Ayers, who founded the radical group in 1968 (when Obama was eight years-old), who went underground to avoid arrest in 1970 (when Obama was ten) and turned himself in to authorities in 1980 (when Obama was twenty and in college), is now a distinguished professor of education at the University of Illinois-Chicago.  He and Obama live in the same neighborhood in Chicago.  They served together on an anti-poverty board between 1999 and 2002.  And Ayers donated $200 to Obama’s state senate campaign in 2001.  That’s it.  There is no connection beyond that.  Obama has condemned Ayers’ radical and violent activities, but the truth is he was almost certainly unaware of them at the time.  To suggest anything else would be ludicrous. But the McCain campaign doesn’t really believe that Obama has anything to do with William Ayers.  Rather, these attacks tap into something much darker — the belief among a few ignorant, deluded souls that Obama is a Muslim.  This is a racial/cultural attack that uses Ayers to raise a whole set of other fears many Americans have of this African-American candidate with the funny name.  And it’s disgusting.

And (this one really bugs me) at the Vice Presidential debate the other night Sarah Palin repeated the charge that Obama had voted against funding the troops in Iraq.  As Joe Biden pointed out, McCain and Palin ignore the fact that John McCain also voted against funding those same troops in a different but similar vote.  See, these votes have nothing to do with funding the troops and everything to do with the debate over how the war should end.  McCain opposes any timeline for ending the war (though Iraq’s government and even the Bush Administration now support one) and so he voted against a funding bill that included a timeline.  Obama opposed an open ended commitment in Iraq and so voted against a funding bill that made such a commitment.  The McCain campaign knows this, of course.  But they’re losing and they’re desperate and they don’t care about the truth.

So this week’s BOW Award goes to the McCain-Palin campaign once again, for their lies and distortions and anything-goes attacks on Barack Obama.  Take a BOW there guys; you’ve earned it.  I notice Sarah Palin is in Omaha today; I’m sure that your campaign plan always foresaw that you’d be defending your lead in Nebraska in early October….


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