Saturday, October 11, 2008


McCain has finally pushed back at the anger he has incited on the campaign trail. He looks uncomfortable in these three moments as he explains to a rally that Obama is, in fact, a "decent" man and that there is nothing to fear in an Obama presidency. The crowd actually boos this line of talk.

This comes a week too late. He should've said it the moment someone yelled "terrorist" in response to McCain's question, "Who is the real Barack Obama?" McCain has no one to blame for the position he's in but himself. My guess is he will look Obama in the eye at the next debate and offer some kind of truce. But it's too late. It's too late to save his candidacy for president, and even more importantly, it's too late to save his legacy. McCain should, and will, spend the rest of his life feeling ashamed of the way he's acted over the last week. It trumps all else.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Scare tactics

Election Central flags an important story out of Georgia where the fear stoked by the McCain campaign is trickling to political rallies of all kind. During a debate between the candidates running for US Senate in Georgia, when Obama's name was mentioned, a member of the crowd yelled, "Bomb Obama!" It is time for the media to point out that this is not simply  a reflection of voters' fears about Obama, or a reflection of some peoples' unease about seeing a black president. This reaction, which we've now seen repeatedly on the campaign trail, is a direct response to the attacks heard by McCain's campaign. These outbursts were not reported until McCain started questioning Obama's character. A month ago I thought McCain had surrendered the moral high ground. I didn't think he could go lower. Watching his campaign is now like watching the stock market: you don't know where the bottom is.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Right response

The video going around today is of an interview Obama gave to ABC during which he addressed McCain's recent attacks on his character, particularly his ties to William Ayers. Obama's response: "Say it to my face." This afternoon on the campaign trail, Biden echoed that message, telling an audience in Missouri, "John McCain could not bring himself to look Barack OBama in the eye and say the same things to him." He added, "Well in my neighborhood, when you've got something to say to a guy, you look him in the eye and you say it to him!"

Greg Sargent wrote that Obama is trying to bait McCain into taking him on at next week's debate. My guess is that that would be good strategy. Obama certainly is prepared in case that happens and would be ready with a sharp response. It's also smart politics. It's the anti-Dukakis, anti-Kerry way of doing things. The response to these attacks is "Bring it on!" Obama has nothing to hide and he knows it. This all plays into what I think is his greatest and most underappreciated traits: he is comfortable with himself. He knows McCain has nothing on him, and he's letting people know that.

Oh, and telling a crowd in a red state that you are ready for a fist fight is probably smart strategy, too.

More bad timing

There's certainly a strong case to made that McCain is out of touch based on his stance on the issues. But his recent and continued attacks on Obama's character are more proof than we've ever had that the man doesn't have a clue. The campaign started bringing up Ayers earlier this week, only to run away from it at the debate and even claim that they weren't going to talk about Ayers anymore. Today, they stepped up the Ayers attack and even released a 90-second ad about the Ayers-Obama connection. Now, a McCain co-chair brought up Obama's past admitted drug use. 

At first this all seemed desperate, like a campaign kicking and screaming as its poll numbers took a dive. Today, though, as McCain makes guilt-by-association claims left and right, the stock market fell 7 percent and is now at its lowest point since 2003. There's no end in sight to the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, yet one of the main presidential candidates doesn't even discuss the economy. 

As I'm writing this, I'm listening to Hardball and talk show host Michael Smerconish made the point I'm coming to. This tactic by McCain is certainly desperate, but what's more puzzling is that it's bad politics. It's the most glaring evidence yet that the man is out of touch. It's as though four months ago the campaign decided it was going to bring up Ayers in October no matter what. Well, the race has changed. You can't keep talking about a relationship someone had 10 years ago as people's pensions go down the drain.

ALSO: Drudge links to an exclusive report saying Obama has just purchased a half hour of network primetime television. 

Check this out

A lot has been made recently about the McCain campaign's attempts to label Obama -- to put questions in the minds of voters. I personally don't see it working, especially not in an election year when the economy is in the tank. But the yelling from the crowd that he's a terrorist, or "kill him" is disturbing. The attacks won't work on independents, I don't think, but they've done serious damage. They've pissed people off (on both sides) and riled up the Republican base to a point that it's scary. It's not scary because they could steal the election, but because someone could do serious harm. Check out the above video if you don't buy it.