The Last Throes of A Desperate Campaign

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. McCain’s standing in the polls, and to devote more time to attacking Mr. Obama.

“Governor Palin’s comments, while offensive, are not surprising, given the McCain campaign’s statement this morning that they would be launching Swift-boat-like attacks in hopes of deflecting attention from the nation’s economic ills,” said Hari Sevugan, an Obama spokesman. “What’s 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."

Tags: Barack Obama, desperate, John McCain, Sarah Palin, William Ayers (all tags)

Comments

59 Comments

Re: The Last Throes of A Desperate Campaign

Ruthless and efficient counter-attack.  That's the only suggestion I make to Obama.  Give them no quarter, leave no idiotic statement unanswered.  Cram it down their throats and let them choke on their own lies.  And I'm not talking about some kumbaya "can't we all just get along" way.

Enough!

by tlhwraith 2008-10-05 01:19PM | 0 recs
Re: The Last Throes of A Desperate Campaign

Obama needs to address these attacks in the nesxt debate on Tuesday. He needs to take it to McCain/Palin directly.

by mtndewrob 2008-10-05 01:28PM | 0 recs
off topic a bit but...

anyone up for one last money bomb?  we need to give them the money early enough for them to fully utilize it, but not so early they risk running out.  i'm thinking the night of the last prez debate, the 15th, 20 days before the election.  anyone up for it?  if so, spread the word!

by Doug Tuttle 2008-10-05 01:29PM | 0 recs
CNN also pointed out

that Palin said Obama was "palling around around with terrorists." They said they called the campaign to ask why they used the plural when Palin only mentioned Ayers. The McCain campaign never returned their calls. They also said the accusation was false.

by Lolis 2008-10-05 01:36PM | 0 recs
Re: CNN also pointed out

Just a thought; Ayers wife was part of this group wasn't she?

by soyousay 2008-10-05 03:26PM | 0 recs
Re: CNN also pointed out

OMF-ing GOD!

And, Obama probably said Hello to her at least once.

Thats it, campaign over.

It's the McCain landslide assured.

by WashStateBlue 2008-10-05 03:52PM | 0 recs
Re: CNN also pointed out

Don't freak; it was just a thought in reference to what Palin meant by "terrorists." I may be way off; it may have been a gaffe, she may have meant "terrorist." That beings said, his wife was part of the "weathermen."

FYI; I don't read minds.

by soyousay 2008-10-05 04:39PM | 0 recs
Re: CNN also pointed out

I think it's just a generic term that uninformed people use: "He's running around with terrorists," stands in for one guy.

by elrod 2008-10-05 06:13PM | 0 recs
Biden's mother in law passed away

today; give your good graces to the Biden family.

by Blazers Edge 2008-10-05 01:55PM | 0 recs
I'm shocked....

...that Ayers was brought up. Well, not really. Get real; why do you think many of us had a problem with Obama becoming the Democratic nominee? We knew his Chicago roots would surface. More to come I'm sure.

by soyousay 2008-10-05 02:01PM | 0 recs
Snicker....

You mean YOU HOPE there is more to come...

Ain't gonna work, Soyousay...These are wounded animals firing wildly into the crowd.

They will just as likely hit themselves, hurt themselves with this tactic, as they will Obama.

Say, as I remember, didn't you ABSOLUTELY predicit Obama was toast because those disenfranchised Michigan and Florida voters would absolutely punish him for that betrayal?

How's that prediction working out for ya?

Looks like Michigan is in the bag, and Florida is starting to look shakey for your boy McCain as well?

So, I think we are all taking your predictions at this point with a large bucket of salt.

by WashStateBlue 2008-10-05 02:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Snicker....

"These are wounded animals firing wildly into the crowd."

Holy mixed metaphors, Batman!  ;-)

This reminds me of Dave Barry's great line about the economy in the Great Depression in "Dave Barry Slept Here":  that it was "a paper tiger with feet of clay, sitting in a straw house of cards that had cried wolf once too often."

by failsafe 2008-10-05 03:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Snicker....

Actually WE are animals after all.....

And, if we are wounded, we DO get more desperate?

But, I was thinking, wouldn't it be great to flip the coin next time Sarah goes out shooting the wolves from the Helicopter.

Heads, she's up in the chopper with the assualt rifle.

Tails, they strip her to her skivies, and throw her into a pen of starving angry wolves?

Only problem with that idea is, wolves are NOT inheriently agressive animals, to kill for sport.

They would probably not even kill her for food.

Unlike the animal, man that Palin represents in her blood sport.

by WashStateBlue 2008-10-05 03:57PM | 0 recs
Re: I'm shocked....

Yeah, let's just see how much it cuts into his raging landslide victory when people are worried about the economy.  I'd bet big money that it doesn't mean dick.

by failsafe 2008-10-05 03:21PM | 0 recs
Re: I'm shocked....

I thought that myself, but answer me this... If there was more to come, why did they pull out of Michigan?

by vcalzone 2008-10-05 03:25PM | 0 recs
Re: I'm shocked....

pulling out's a gimmick?

by Doug Tuttle 2008-10-05 03:51PM | 0 recs
Re: I'm shocked....

Nah, it ain't. It ensures that he'll never win there and pisses off the Michigan GOP to no end. It might cost them neighboring sister states Wisconsin and/or Minnesota, too, and they know it even if they won't say it.

by vcalzone 2008-10-05 04:33PM | 0 recs
Re: The Last Throes of A Desperate Campaign

Character is a dangerous issue to bring up. McCain is a hothead who berated POW advocates and who (lest we forget) left his disabled wife and his kids to hook up with a much younger hot heiress. If Wright becomes fair game because it speaks to Obama's "judgment", so does that. Not by Obama, by a 527 that Obama will immediately denounce. Because seriously, what kind of man abandons his wife and kids to "marry upwards"?

by vcalzone 2008-10-05 02:25PM | 0 recs
Ambinder says that Obama already

gave the ok to bring up Keating.

I think McCain's first wife is being saved for Jeremiah Wright.  I think they see that as the equivalent as Wright.

Would Biden be willing to bring up that stuff against McCain?  I'm doubtful considering their friendship, so this may have to be done by surrogates on television (Rahm Emanuel and Paul Begala).

by Blazers Edge 2008-10-05 03:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Ambinder says that Obama already

Did someone die?

by soyousay 2008-10-05 03:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Ambinder says that Obama already

Are you being serious or joking? Because if you're joking about Jill Biden's mother, that's beyond sick.

by vcalzone 2008-10-05 03:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Ambinder says that Obama already

No, I was talking about Ayers.

by soyousay 2008-10-05 03:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Ambinder says that Obama already

Good.

by vcalzone 2008-10-05 03:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Ambinder says that Obama already

In 1970 there were fatalities - a police officer died from his injuries after a pipe bomb was detonated in a San Francisco police station, while three of the group blew themselves up while building explosives in their New York apartment.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7653 486.stm

by soyousay 2008-10-05 03:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Yes, we all know Ayers is a bad guy

In 2001, Ayers stated that "he didn't do enough" in reference to the weathermen and their tactics. Obama wasn't 8 years old when he said that.

by soyousay 2008-10-05 04:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Yes, we all know Ayers is a bad guy

So your position is that all the members of the Woods board and every politician that has worked with Ayers is a terrorist?

by vcalzone 2008-10-05 04:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Yes, we all know Ayers is a bad guy

My position is; it is a fact that there was a relationship between Obama and Ayers.

How close they are is for the media investigate/debunk/whatever.

by soyousay 2008-10-05 04:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Relationship?

Barely knows the guy? Yeah right. I think that's a bit of a stretch to claim that Obama "barely knows the guy." I think you need to "look within yourself."

by soyousay 2008-10-05 07:24PM | 0 recs
Obama...set the record straight

Obama needs to speak out about his relationship and put this to rest. His previous comments about just "some guy" suggests he hardly knows him and yet he served on a board with him. Obama should set the record straight IMO. He may do that if the questions continue. I believe that will help put this behind him in the same manner Obama handled the Wright incident; now that was smart.

by soyousay 2008-10-05 08:42PM | 0 recs
by thatpurplestuff 2008-10-05 04:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Yes, we all know Ayers is a bad guy

Obama should make the "asshole" claim. I believe that would help him out in reference to this situation.

"No regrets" huh? That speaks for itself.

by soyousay 2008-10-05 07:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Yes, we all know Ayers is a bad guy

I do know that Ayers initially helped launch Obama's political career at Ayers home. I don't see any evidence that he has any recent contact.

Will Obama lose votes due to this? Maybe a few but it may not have a huge impact.

by soyousay 2008-10-05 04:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Yes, we all know Ayers is a bad guy

Coulda said that from the beginning.

by vcalzone 2008-10-05 04:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Yes, we all know Ayers is a bad guy

I could have, but I didn't. I didn't realize that my imput had so much weight....That was a joke.

by soyousay 2008-10-05 04:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Yes, we all know Ayers is a bad guy

Ayers raised a grand total of $200 for Obama. That's not "helping him start his political career." That's hosting a small-scale fundraiser for a neighbor running for Senate.

by elrod 2008-10-05 06:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Yes, we all know Ayers is a bad guy

It's not always about money.

by soyousay 2008-10-05 07:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Ambinder says that Obama already

Yes.

by failsafe 2008-10-05 03:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Ambinder says that Obama already

If so, that's why supposedly McCain is forbidding the use of Jeremiah Wright.

by vcalzone 2008-10-05 03:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Ambinder says that Obama already

No, McCain is "forbidding" the use of Wright because back in the primaries he said that Obama didn't share Wright's views.  He'd look like an idiot if his campaign brought it up now.

So why not make it look principled instead of tactical?

by Jess81 2008-10-05 07:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Ambinder says that Obama already

An interesting point from Paul Begala:


But John McCain sat on the board of a very right-wing organization, it was the U.S. Council for World Freedom, it was chaired by a guy named John Singlaub, who wound up involved in the Iran contra scandal. It was an ultra conservative, right-wing group. The Anti-Defamation League, in 1981 when McCain was on the board, said this about this organization. It was affiliated with the World Anti-Communist League - the parent organization - which ADL said "has increasingly become a gathering place, a forum, a point of contact for extremists, racists and anti-Semites."

Ben Smith - A shot across the bows Politico 5 Oct 08

Personally I don't think these attacks have much impact at this stage in the race, Palin, unleashed in 'pit-bull' mode, is playing 'fire brigade' defence in red states, not to mention doing a fund-raiser in California of all places.  It increasingly looks to me like McCain is slowly taking on water and that Palin is more interested in her political prospects beyond 2008 than anything else.

Frankly, this latest shift in the 'strategy' of the McCain campaign looks like they are throwing in the towel and letting Palin off the leash to get some national exposure in the last few weeks of the campaign.  It's interesting to note the final outcome of the VP debate:


An Ipsos/McClatchy poll found that Gov. Sarah Palin's performance in last week's vice presidential debate actually hurt her running mate, Sen. John McCain, among undecided voters.

Before the debate, undecided voters were leaning 56% to 44% for McCain. The day after the debate, the numbers tilted 52% to 48% for Sen. Barack Obama.

Taegan Goddard - VP Debate Pushed Undecided Voters to Obama Taegan Goddard's Political Wire 5 Oct 08

That kind of result is very reassuring, if Governor Palin is 'energising the base' so be it, from where I sit she is also dividing the Republican party, and clearly unconcerned about undermining the top of her own ticket, at a moment in history when they can least afford it.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-10-05 03:43PM | 0 recs
Character

Indeed.  If you haven't, just read the latest Rolling Stone (there's a diary here on it), and spread it around to all of your friends.  I thought McCain was a jerk and a fraud, but I had no idea just how much of one...

by failsafe 2008-10-05 03:26PM | 0 recs
predictable

by soyousay 2008-10-05 03:00PM | 0 recs
We agree

You certainly are....

by WashStateBlue 2008-10-05 03:08PM | 0 recs
Re: We agree

So are you; you got your head in the clouds.

by soyousay 2008-10-05 03:23PM | 0 recs
Re: We agree

Better there than where you've stashed yours...

by failsafe 2008-10-05 03:29PM | 0 recs
Re: We agree

I saw this coming. Did you?

by soyousay 2008-10-05 03:36PM | 0 recs
Yep.

But unlike you, I saw that it wouldn't matter much.

by failsafe 2008-10-05 03:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Yep.

Maybe...Maybe not.

I do think it will matter to some.

by soyousay 2008-10-05 04:21PM | 0 recs
Now?

This stuff came up in the primary and then again in August. Anybody who will actually be turned off to voting for Obama because of Ayers has already been turned off a long time ago.

Voters just paying attention now are more concerned with the economy than base-polarizing guilt-by-association attacks.

The time to launch character attacks is in August, not October. The only exception is if there is a genuinely new revelation in October, like Bush's DWI in 2000. There is nothing new with Ayers so we are just recycling nonsense.

by elrod 2008-10-05 06:20PM | 0 recs
Actually I agree with Oscar Wilde

We are ALL in the gutter...

Just some of us are looking at the stars?

Try looking up once in a while Soyousay, it might do you some good.

by WashStateBlue 2008-10-05 04:01PM | 0 recs
Re: soyousay

Soyousay is too wily to give you a free shot, cant really be pinned down...

But, I do think, he is one of the gutsy PUMAs that will show up after Obama wins, and take their lumps.

The really chicken shit ones, like IndyDem for instances, won't be seen within a million miles of this site.

They will slink away, and howl like puppies whose tails have been stepped on with the rest at NoQuarter and Texas Darlinks HellSiteandAngerFestival.com

by WashStateBlue 2008-10-05 04:18PM | 0 recs
Re: The Last Throes of A Desperate Campaign

Frankly, I don't want to hear about Ayers from Stephanoupolos.  He legitimized the attack by brining it up at that so-called debate he "moderated" in the primaries.

These attacks are ridiculous and should be easy to counteract given McCain's dubious associations and Palin's mega-issues in Alaska.  The only thing that concerns me about the negative attacks is that Obama has often been a step behind when it comes to countering them.  He holds off until the polls dip and then responds.  We don't have time to wait for that cycle right now.  People are already voting.  I hope that he is ready for a knock down fight on Tuesday, and that if McCain brings up Ayers, Obama smacks back with the Keating 5 scandal.

by Renie 2008-10-05 03:15PM | 0 recs
Re: The Last Throes of A Desperate Campaign

McCain blows his wad again.. by bringing this up now, it allows Obama to smack it down decisively during the debate two days from now...  Had they waited until after the debate, they could have let the story fester for about a week until the last debate...

We'll see how the public reacts... The folk on intrade feel that there may be some resonance, since Obama lost a few points today, and McCain gained... but, Obama is still in the low to mid 60's in regards to probability of winning...

Unfortunately, we are peaking a bit early for what we need... thank goodness we've got early voting going on...

by LordMike 2008-10-05 03:55PM | 0 recs
a plateau, not a peak

I don't think the Democratic landslide is going to go above a certain level, but I wouldn't say Barack's campaign has peaked too early, or even necessarily hit its peak yet.  Of course, we will hit a plateau past which there are no more gains, but I'll settle for less than 50 states in our landslide, won't you?  

by chiefscribe 2008-10-05 04:07PM | 0 recs
Re: History is on our side

And our chart much more strongly resembles Bush's side of that chart. Bush, too showed a steadily increasing lead interrupted by a brief period when Gore's convention bounce almost changed the race.

by vcalzone 2008-10-05 04:46PM | 0 recs
Re: The Last Throes of A Desperate Campaign

Maybe this isn't the peak :)

There are things I'm worried about, but having a nice lead 4 weeks out is not one of them.  McCain might cut into it, but I'd rather have him trying to eat into an 8 point lead than into a 1 point lead.

by thezzyzx 2008-10-05 04:10PM | 0 recs
Palin took out the word "pal"

and replaced it with "work with [Ayers]" tonight in Omaha.

by Blazers Edge 2008-10-05 04:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Palin took out the word "pal"

She is throwing that to the base.....

They know that the media is not going to go on an AYERS frenzy like they did on Rev Wright.

They will run ads down south, to try to stop the bleeding, but they know this is not a game changer.

by WashStateBlue 2008-10-05 05:07PM | 0 recs
Deperados

Ayers isn't going to pay anyones Mortgage or Health Insurance.  4 years ago maybe, today HELL NO.  

by nzubechukwu 2008-10-05 05:20PM | 0 recs

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