The Last Throes of A Desperate Campaign
by Todd Beeton, Sun Oct 05, 2008 at 01:11:07 PM EDT
Yesterday Sarah Palin launched the first of what is sure to be many attacks against Obama as anti-American by virtue of his association with William Ayers. "Palling around with terrorists" is how she put it. It is the sign of a candidate and campaign with nothing substantive to run on, and only a desperate final hail Mary as a last resort. As Nate Silver puts it:
...they're going to drive their campaign into a ditch -- and hope they can find a way to take Obama along for the ride.
Too bad for McCain, no one seems to be buying it.
In her speech yesterday, Palin referenced a New York Times article about Ayers, which concluded "Little Influence Seen" between the two men and that:
"...the two men do not appear to have been close. Nor has Mr. Obama ever expressed sympathy for the radical views and actions of Mr. Ayers."
And that's the article that Palin is citing to bolster her case?
Over at CNN, their Fact Check concludes the same thing:
The Statement: Republican vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin said Saturday, October 4, that Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama is "someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country." [...]
Verdict: False. There is no indication that Ayers and Obama are now "palling around," or that they have had an ongoing relationship in the past three years. Also, there is nothing to suggest that Ayers is now involved in terrorist activity or that other Obama associates are.
And none other than The AP thinks this may actually backfire on McCain:
By claiming that Democrat Barack Obama is "palling around with terrorists" and doesn't see the U.S. like other Americans, vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin targeted key goals for a faltering campaign.
And though she may have scored a political hit each time, her attack was unsubstantiated and carried a racially tinged subtext that John McCain himself may come to regret.
As does conservative pundit George Will, who announced on This Week this morning:
STEPHANOUPOLOS: Is the attack that Governor Palin took yesterday the right one?
WILL: No. The attack she took yesterday is saying not that Barack Obama has bad ideas that would be bad for the country, but Barack Obama is a bad person. And I don't think people want to do that. We don't elect angry presidents and John McCain looks very angry at the moment.
But just because the attack doesn't appear to be sticking, doesn't mean it should go unanswered. Indeed, having learned the lessons of Democratic nominees past, the Obama campaign hit back fast with the charge that the McCain campaign is so desperate that all they will do from now to election day is attack Obama rather than address the problems of ordinary Americans:
The Obama campaign responded by noting that McCain officials had been quoted as saying that they hoped to turn the page on the fiscal crisis, which has hurt Mr. McCains standing in the polls, and to devote more time to attacking Mr. Obama.
Governor Palins comments, while offensive, are not surprising, given the McCain campaigns statement this morning that they would be launching Swift-boat-like attacks in hopes of deflecting attention from the nations economic ills, said Hari Sevugan, an Obama spokesman. Whats clear is that John McCain and Sarah Palin would rather spend their time tearing down Barack Obama than laying out a plan to build up our economy.
They also released this ad:
So far throughout this entire election cycle, remarkably, we've seen facts and rationality win out over fear. Will that continue over the next 30 days? It's clear that Palin's reference to plural "terrorists" (no comment, of course, from the McCain campaign on who these other terrorists Obama is "palling around with" are) and her evocation of racial cues in her speech yesterday are intended to make people fear Barack Obama, to portray him as "the other" but for that strategy to work, they need the nation to be its old 2004 self. Again, too bad for John McCain, not only is the country in a much different place than it was just 4 years ago, but the left is far better organized with a media infrastructure that has been able to effectively hit back against such attacks in real time. This isn't 2004 anymore.
Update [2008-10-5 19:48:41 by Todd Beeton]:One key way this is sooo not 2004: our candidate hits back swiftly and often. Here's Barack on the campaign trail today:
Sen. Barack Obama on Sunday charged that Sen. John McCain's campaign is launching "Swift boat-style attacks" on him instead of addressing the country's problems.
"Sen. McCain and his operatives are gambling that they can distract you with smears rather than talk to you about substance. They'd rather try to tear our campaign down than lift this country up," Obama said at an event in Asheville, North Carolina.
"That's what you do when you're out of touch, out of ideas, and running out of time," he said.
Notice how Obama is not adopting a defensive posture. In fact, he even took the opportunity to continue to hit McCain's health care policy, calling it "radical" and "out of line with our basic values."