Thoughts on the Campaign

October 10, 2008

Been a few days since I wrote about any of the political stuff, largely because I’m utterly obsessed with the campaign right now and really don’t need additional reasons to focus on it.  That said….

Liars, Attackers, and Ayers!  Oh My!:  McCain, Palin, and the GOP continue to go after Obama for his ties to William Ayers, despite a) evidence that it’s not helping them in the polls and might even be hurting them, and b) the fact that there really is very little to the charges themselves.  William Ayers did some terrible things in the 1960s, and his comments after 9/11, though distorted and taken out of context, do call into question his judgment.  But once again we have the GOP trying to smear Barack Obama for something that others have done and said.  In this case, Ayers’ crimes (for which he was never convicted) were committed when Obama was eight years old.  Eight!  Ayers is now a distinguished professor of education at University of Illinois in Chicago, and he has served in the Administration of Chicago’s Mayor. 

But really, that’s not even the point.  John McCain and Sarah Palin would do well to ask themselves if they really want to play the guilt-by-association game.  Everytime they bring up Ayers, Democrats should bring up Charles Keating, whose illegal lobbying on behalf of banking deregulation resulted in John McCain being reprimanded by the Senate ethics committee.  Or Mark Chryson, the former chairman of the Alaska Independence Party, who is a close personal advisor of Palin’s and who not only advocated Alaska’s secession from the Union, but who also has ties to militia movements in several states.

Everytime they bring up Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the Democrats should bring up the Reverend John Hagee, a virulently anti-Catholic preacher whose endorsement McCain actively sought early in the campaign, and then rejected later, when Hagee made offensive remarks about the Holocaust.  Or they should bring up Pastor Thomas Muthee, the preacher shown exorcising demons from Palin in that widely seen YouTube video.  (Imagine if someone had video of a black preacher exorcising demons from Barack Obama!   The GOP would be frothing at the mouth!)

Everytime the Republicans try to tie Obama to Louis Farrakhan (which they have done again and again despite the fact that there’s no connection to speak of) Democrats should bring up Jack Abramoff, whose illegal lobbying activities and the Federal investigations spurred by them, have already brought down several Republican Congressmen, and who has had connections with several associates of John McCain.

Guilt by association:  It’s a blade that can cut both ways.

One last note on this:  It seems pretty clear to me from comments made by both Obama and Biden that they were hoping McCain would use the Ayers attack in the debate.  They have both basically said in the days since the debate that McCain was afraid to make those charges to Obama’s face.  They’re calling him out, guessing that they can get under his skin and make him use the smears during the next joint event.  They must have a REALLY good response prepared.  McCain would be smart to avoid any mention of William Ayers or Jeremiah Wright at Hofstra next week.

It’s Getting Ugly Out There:  Reports from the campaign trail over the past week or so (coinciding with the McCain-Palin attacks on Obama’s “ties to terrorists”) indicate that Republican campaign events are becoming less like political rallies and increasingly like lynch mobs.  The mention of Obama’s name at some of these rallies has been met with shouts of “terrorist!” and “kill him!”  One crowd shouted racial slurs at a black cameraman covering the event.  This is enough to chill the blood, and McCain and Palin, instead of laughing it off or encouraging it, should have stopped the events then and there and made clear that while they differed with Democrats on the issues, they respected them as Americans.  They should have made it clear that slurs and threats of this nature have no part in American politics.  That they didn’t is disturbing to say the least.

The Disdain of McCain:  I would argue that the anger reflected in this mob behavior is not all that dissimilar from the contempt with which Sarah Palin spoke of Obama and his work as a community organizer at the GOP convention in Minneapolis, and also  the disdain John McCain showed for Obama at the debate in Nashville Tuesday night (the “That One” Debate).  I think that when it comes right down to it, John McCain can’t stand the fact that he’s losing to a junior Senator, a guy whose Washington D. C. resume is not nearly as long as his own.  McCain seems to believe that he deserves to be President, that he’s earned it, and that the fact that this whelp, this boy is standing in his way is intolerable.  Is there an element of race in this?  Absolutely.  But I think there’s far more to it.  There’s been a lot made of Obama’s “elitism”, but the truly arrogant candidate in this campaign is John McCain.  Did you listen closely to the things he said at the debate the other night?  How many times did he say “I know how to do this” or some version thereof?  He knows how to win the war in Iraq.  He knows how to fix health care.  He knows how to find Bin Ladin.  He knows how to cure the economy of all its ills.  Except, of course, that he doesn’t know any of these things.  We’re just finishing up eight years with a President who believes completely in his own infallibility, his own omniscience.  Do we really want four more?

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