October 6, 2008

Guilt by guilt

How inept is the McCain campaign? Yesterday, Politico's Mike Allen made the case, with some justification, that reviving the Keating Five scandal wouldn't harm McCain all that much because "McCain hardly hides the affair."

He called it, in his 2002 autobiography, "the worst mistake of my life." He remade himself as a reformer in reaction to the scandal. McCain's case isn't that you should ignore his sin, or that it isn't a sin; it's that he's expiated it.

If the McCain camp had pushed that line, it probably would have been hard for the Obama campaign to get much traction on this front in the press. But it didn't. Instead, it argued today that McCain had done nothing wrong and that the K5 inquiry was a "classic political smear job."

Which means the press pretty much has to get to the bottom of the competing claims by dredging the whole thing up all over again. Even if the consensus somehow comes out in McCain's favor, the process is bound to hurt him.

Posted by Daniel Radosh


This could be an attempt to convince people that both sides are engaged in smearing, to insulate them from blowback from the upcoming negative ads they will probably run for the next month. Given media laziness about challenging claims or factchecking, this might work. But I fail to see how starting a mudslinging war at this point is going to help them.

The McCain campaign is truly desperate. They can smear Obama with Ayers, Wright and Rezko. After that, they're done.

Meanwhile Obama can hit back with Keating Five, Liddy and the rcaist John Singlaub, with whom "senior moment" McCain has been more than cozy.

Then we have the Palin churches, witch-hunters included, plus that Alasak First party... and that plastic explosives deal gone wrong that led to the murder of the party's founder...

Palin has been "palling around" with far more interesting people than Obama has ever crossed paths with.

Obama's appeal is antithetical to nasty attack ads. He's best at playing the firm but loving parent. He can go negative, but must do so within a structure of maturity, fact and logic. If only he would state his true understanding of the Federal Reserve and Council on Foreign Relations, then I could view him personally as something more than a charming player in the good cop/bad cop cycle of presidential puppets.

To Jared's point about media laziness, how annoying are headlines like Character attacks emerge in McCain-Obama race? They didn't emerge, McCain and Palin started making them. Sheesh.

I think McCain must have calculated that he doesn't mind be hit with Keating et al. That it's still a fight he can win, as opposed to a fight over his economic policies. Still, I maintain that denying everything after all these years of showing contrition was a tactical error. If Keating wasn't a legit issue before (and it arguably was, certainly more than Ayers) he just made it one.

I agree with JD, however, that Obama should leave the sharpest counter attacks to surrogates. In the debate, he should parry every thrust by asking the audience something like, "would you rather talk about stuff that happened in the 1960s when I was 8 years old, or would you rather talk about the future security of you health care and finances?"

If John McCain is answering your question, "I would rather talk about stuff that happened when you were eight and I was suffering like Christ on the Cross for your freedom to be eight."

Didn't HRC [briefly] try to pull this feldocarb?

Keating is less a smear due to its relevance in the current economic crisis. [The Obama as 8-year old issue for Ayers works since they met 36 years later in a charity event.] Yes, Keating was 20 years ago, but McCain was directly involved in the issue AT THE TIME. The fact that both are in the past is less an issue relative to the involvement of each at the time. They need to make that specific point and have not quite done so.

Personally, I love the oblique attacks on his age and potential senility by [everyone] using the word "erratic". Genius. Keep it low key with the vague undercurrent of implying he’s a step into Alzheimer’s. More shots of his Frankenstein scar please as well as meshing the anger into the instability angle. Rage is another symptom.

Palin is a non-issue. Her attacks on Obama reflect the tone of voice of a mom’s sarcasm over why her son can’t seem to put dirty undies in the hamper. We’ve all heard that “how may times do I have to tell you” tone and it’s becoming increasingly annoying. Bottom line, she’s a desperate attention freak and has simply tried out in the only Reality Show they have in Alaska: public office. She is incapable of deep thinking beyond her need for celebrity.

@pessimist. Good points, but I think Palin is more than just a fameseeker. I think she's convinced that God has plans for her to be a great political leader, and is now using her time in the spotlight to position herself to challenge Huckabee for the evangelical vote in 2012.

I would love for Palin to challenge - and beat - Huckabee in 2008. That prospect is the only thing I like about her elevation to national prominence.

Palin is a cipher. She is devoid of actual ideas and has only ambition and a vague sense of what she thinks she is supposed to want. Huckabee is a real threat; an intelligent man with real political instincts who happens to believe many, many things that I would not want to see reflected in government. If the GOP decides to choose unwisely in 2012, I'd be thrilled.

Er, ... challenge Huckabee in 2012...

Interesting point… I’ve been seeing that 2012 Palin ticket floating the ether but I can’t buy it. And I’m surprised it’s got any serious traction. I don’t think we’re so far gone that a person can run solely on the “evangelical” ticket and win. Although I can see an independent 3rd party emerge – we’ve seen Pat Robertson run with some degree of success.

This is a voting block of like-minded people with a very small common agenda. I’ve love to see congress put their cards on the table and everyone run either Democrat, Republican, or Evangelical. Then we’ll see who in office has the balls to put god first in a re-election.

Her other option is running as Joe Six Pack. I cannot believe people, en masse, will vote for someone who’s no more clever than their over-hanging stomach, bass boat in the yard, Nascar bumper sticker, beer swilling neighbor. Those people just don’t vote. Not during playoff season, god love them.

Just kill me if you’re right.

To clarify, I don't by any means think SP can *win* in 2012. Not the nomination and certainly not the general. But I don't think *she* knows that. Clearly she'd try to get the populist vote in general, not just the evangelical vote (this is the Huckabee model). But I don't see it happening. I just see her trying.

It seems that McCain-Palin rallies are now filled with hate speech and even incitements to kill...

Apart from being disgusting and un-American, etc., what is the legal status of such behavior?

I suppose it would be the logical next round of her quest to maintain celebrity. Hey I'd welcome a Republican primary fight with endless televised debates of varying formats. The mind boggles as the possibilities.

It's either that or she accepts the role as lead character in a network comedy about a plucky small town mayor using a home spun folksy approach to solve everyday problems. Jerry van Dyke is hilarious as deputy mayor Harold Gouda, and Ken Berry is the hapless chief of police Ned Perrywinkle.

You'd have a hard time proving actual incitement to kill... the only (relevant) speech not protected under the First Amendment.

Palin's certainly offending Canadian Christians with her hate speech:


I'm feeling pretty optimistic these days... McCain/Palin just seem desperate to me. They have nothing, nothing on Obama except very weak character attacks. Not one iota of policy criticism that America agrees with. It seems their campaign is "Kitchen Sink Smears" now, throw everything and hope something sticks. They really have nothing to lose.

I predict this election will be the last we hear of Palin. She's now officially an embarrassment to Alaska and will probably lose whatever she runs for next.

Ah well, yes, and by the way, we won the last two elections, too!

Yeah, I think McCain basically needs to pull a rabbit out of his hat tonight. If he can't do that it's all over.

Richard H. observes:
It seems that McCain-Palin rallies are now filled with hate speech and even incitements to kill...

Reminds me of Bush Sr. when he ran for re-election against Clinton. The strategy of constantly basking the press (sound familiar?) prompted some spectators to spit on photographers and reporters covering pro-Bush events. Then at a night-time rally, with his hair flopping in the gusting autumn wind, an angry and desperate Pres. Bush let loose this gem: "My dog Mille knows more about foreign policy then these two Bozos! [Clinton & Gore]"

He would go on to loose that election, I believe.

Secret service now investigating:


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