So Barack, Are You Just Gonna Take It?

Over the past few days there have been a few diaries, and a lot of comments, about Obama's lack of retort to McCain's amped up attacks.  The general line was why the hell are we taking this shit? There were the expected (and fairly reasonable) questions about whither Obama's Rapid Response apparatus? Where are the rebuttal ads?  And where are the pit-bull surrogates? (Hillary, we're looking fondly at you here.)  

Yes, looking at this stage of the campaign as a series of battles does seem to indicate that we're in need of a... surge.  To be entirely fair, a well-timed surge can surely save your bacon - in the short run.  

I'm going to tread on dangerous ground here, and suggest that we can all agree on something: whether you like the guy personally or not, whether you like (all) his policies or not, most of you should probably agree that he's run a strong, disciplined, and strategic campaign. Stripping away my feelings for Obama (I like the guy!) I still figure this operation does know what it's doing.  Now we're starting to see the results of this soft-walk approach.  


Dangerous ground after the fold.

Had the Obama team been front & center, blasting back at McCain, the optics would be of a negative campaign battle between the two parties.  Instead, by staying above the McCain dip into despair, Obama has let his rival flounder away.  Obama just isn't casting any shade on McCain's fretting.  Resisting the temptation to insert some tasteless sun exposure wisecrack, I'll just cut to the fact that John just ain't doing well in the bright light of sober reason.

Since Obama isn't taking the bait, McCain is out there whining, crying, and lying, all on his own.  This means that media attention can be focused directly on McCain, and McCain alone.  

Today's editorial in the NY Times is not just blistering in its attack on McCain's negative turn, they also clearly line up the McCain-Bush-Rove ducks: n/30wed1.html?hp

Mr. McCain used to pride himself on being above this ugly brand of politics, which killed his own 2000 presidential bid. But he clearly tossed his inhibitions aside earlier this month when he put day-to-day management of his campaign in the hands of one acolyte of Mr. Rove and gave top positions to two others. The résumés of the new team's members included stints in Mr. Bush's White House and in his 2004 re-election campaign, one of the most negative and divisive in memory.

Almost immediately, the McCain campaign was using Mr. Rove's well-honed tactics, starting with an attempt to widen this nation's damaging ideological divide by painting Mr. Obama as a far-left kook. On July 18, Mr. McCain even suggested that Mr. Obama is a socialist to the left of the Senate's only avowed socialist: Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Mr. Obama's politics are hardly far-left, and anyone who has spent time in a socialist country knows how ridiculous that label is for any member of Congress. It would be bad enough if Mr. McCain honestly believed what he said, but we find that hard to imagine.


Taking a page straight from Mr. Bush and Mr. Rove, Mr. McCain has been trying to distract voters from his support for an unending war in Iraq by portraying Mr. Obama as unpatriotic and weak. This line of attack reached a crescendo last week when Mr. McCain fumed and fussed and went to places with European-sounding names while Mr. Obama traveled abroad.

Mr. McCain repeatedly said Mr. Obama "would rather lose a war to win a political campaign" and that he "does not understand" what is at stake in Iraq. He also accused Mr. Obama of canceling a visit to wounded American troops in a German military hospital because news cameras were not allowed. That's a false account of what occurred -- and Mr. McCain ignored Mr. Obama's unheralded visit to a combat hospital in Baghdad.

Like Mr. Bush, Mr. McCain confuses opposition to an unnecessary war with a lack of spine and an unwillingness to use force when the nation is truly in danger. Obviously, Mr. Obama is untested as a commander in chief and his trip was intended to reassure voters. But Mr. McCain is as untested in this area as Mr. Obama, and it is hard to imagine a worse role model than the one Mr. McCain seems to be adopting: President Bush.

If that's not compelling enough, the WaPo carries a major piece "McCain Charge Against Obama Lacks Evidence" tent/article/2008/07/29/AR2008072902286_ 2.html?hpid=topnews&sid=ST2008072902 360&pos=

For four days, Sen. John McCain and his allies have accused Sen. Barack Obama of snubbing wounded soldiers by canceling a visit to a military hospital because he could not take reporters with him, despite no evidence that the charge is true.

The attacks are part of a newly aggressive McCain operation whose aim is to portray the Democratic presidential candidate as a craven politician more interested in his image than in ailing soldiers, a senior McCain adviser said. They come despite repeated pledges by the Republican that he will never question his rival's patriotism.


A reconstruction of the circumstances surrounding Obama's decision not to visit Landstuhl, based on firsthand reporting from the trip, shows that his campaign never contemplated taking the media with him.

And Politico 8/12131.html(yesterday)

Despite vulnerabilities that have kept the race closer in polls than most analysts expected -- and McCain even jumped to a 4-percentage-point lead among likely voters in a USA Today/Gallup Poll released Monday -- Barack Obama dominates the race by virtually any other measure. He is dictating the agenda and soaking up news coverage as McCain and his team scramble to react.

"McCain is snakebit," lamented one longtime Bush loyalist.


Too often, GOP insiders grumble, McCain's strategy seems simply reactive. On Sunday, Obama announced he'd be meeting with his economic advisers on Monday. On Monday morning, the McCain campaign announced a conference call with his economic advisers.

McCain's bitterness, frustration and near-obsession with Obama are on plain display: He even gave some free advertising to his opponent's book the other day, complaining about the Illinois Democrat's headline-grabbing trip.

"We rejected the audacity of hopelessness, and we were right," the Arizona Republican said Friday, playing off the title of Obama's book "The Audacity of Hope."


So McCain gets uncomfortable coverage of his temper tantrums & hissy fits while Obama remains the candidate of hope. Certainly there are some risks to this strategy but I think they're manageable risks.  It's a given that McCain's base is responding well to the tough-guy antics, and I think this a reason we're seeing polling strength - he's juicing the hard-core ditto-heads who have had a hard time embracing their candidate.  The depth of this depravity is probably only just sinking in with independents & moderate Republicans so it's a touch early to see movement away from the crazy angry guy.  But, as the press keeps putting McCain's McTantrums on display more people will get a sour taste from the exposure.

I think these attacks have been a gift.  If McCain's handlers can wrestle their candidate into focussing on himself & some sort of cohesive, substantial GOP view of the country, we could still have a true fight on our hands.  If McCain wants this to be about Obama then I'm happy.  Obama does the high road very well (and I'm including those of you who thing that in the past he just appeared to take the high road.)  

We're energized and mobilized.  Our candidate is building the biggest, most organized grass roots and professional machine that this country has ever seen.  Our opponent....  

Well, I'll let the last graf of the Times' editorial sum it all up:

Many voters are wondering whether a McCain presidency would be an extension of Mr. Bush's two disastrous terms. If the way Mr. McCain is running his campaign these days is an indication, Americans don't have to wait until next January for the answer to that one.

Tags: Barack Obama, Bush, campaign, Democratic, Election, George W. Bush, John McCain, McBush, mccain, mcsame, Media, MSM, obama, Republican, Rove (all tags)



Re: So Barack, Are You Just Gonna Take It?

Well, I finally typed out a diary.  About time.  One of these days I'll learn how to format it all nice & pretty.  In the meantime, sorry about the inelegance of the presentation.  

by January 20 2008-07-29 10:51PM | 0 recs

The stuff I've learned so far:

In-text links:
  (a href="site address")desired text(/a)

  (img src="picture's internet address")

Just replace the ( and ) with < and > as appropriate.

by Dracomicron 2008-07-30 06:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Formatting

Other helpful trivia:

Use &lt; and &gt; respectively to get < >.

That way you can put it in the proper formatting:

<a href="some site">link text</a>

by BishopRook 2008-07-30 06:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Formatting

What do "< and &gt" stand for?

by Dracomicron 2008-07-30 06:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Formatting

Oh I see... nevermind.

by Dracomicron 2008-07-30 06:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Formatting

Less than, greater than.

by BishopRook 2008-07-30 06:42AM | 0 recs
Re: Formatting

Thank you all for the hints & kind words.

by January 20 2008-07-30 12:59PM | 0 recs
That's OK...

You get instant bonus points for writing a non-VP-speculation diary! No really, this is good stuff. I like to laugh at how lame McBush is becoming. :-)

by atdleft 2008-07-30 06:21AM | 0 recs
Re: That's OK...

Thanks.  I considered a VP diary but the truth is I don't have the outrage needed for that.  I kinda figure that Obama will present his choice along with the reasoning that went into it.  I figure we'll be sharp enough tacks to get the point.  (Sorry 'bout that.)  At this point I think he can go with Clinton and manage to block the 'giving in to blackmail' cries that will come.  My only worry about a Clinton VP is what to do with Bill?  Before I get beaten to a pulp, I'm going to say very clearly I LIKE BILL.  I voted for Bill, I supported Bill, I still admire Bill.  But I don't know how he handles being simultaneously so close and so far from being the key decision maker & message man.  

by January 20 2008-07-30 01:05PM | 0 recs
Re: So Barack, Are You Just Gonna Take It?

Heh.  Finally did a diary, and it's a damn fine one.  Keep up the good work.

By the way, the formatting looked fine to me.  Wait until you try a table in html.  What a pain.

by fogiv 2008-07-30 08:45AM | 0 recs
Re: So Barack, Are You Just Gonna Take It?

Thanks.  With this warning, I have just decided that tables are for dining.  Period.

by January 20 2008-07-30 01:06PM | 0 recs
Re: So Barack, Are You Just Gonna Take It?

Apparently not.

Here's the latest response from Obama that might ease your concern a bit....

Obama Knocks 'Old Politics' of McCain

But here's something you can do something about. Tell Wolf Blitzer that this is unacceptable...

Media Matters:

On The Situation Room, Wolf Blitzer aired portions of an advertisement by Sen. John McCain's campaign without noting key facts undermining several of the ad's attacks on Sen. Barack Obama. Blitzer also solicited analysis of the ad from CNN political contributor Alex Castellanos without disclosing that Castellanos reportedly advises McCain on his campaign ads.

by Glaurung 2008-07-29 11:40PM | 0 recs
Re: So Barack, Are You Just Gonna Take It?

Thanks, I hadn't seen that ad yet.  This fits perfectly with what I'm getting at above, that he maintains the positive glow while McCain glowers with negativity.

by January 20 2008-07-29 11:50PM | 0 recs
Re: So Barack, Are You Just Gonna Take It?

Even GOP spokesmodel Andrea Mitchell took McDesperate to task for claiming Obama wants to lose a war. On the rare occassions when the press actually does its job and holds McBush accountable, it's probably best for Obama to stand aside and let them chew him up.

by Glaurung 2008-07-29 11:55PM | 0 recs
Re: So Barack, Are You Just Gonna Take It?

That's right McCain is looking like a grumpy old man and even Republicans are starting to worry about McCain's negativity and a few lies. McCain is hurting himself. Obama doesn't need to respond to everything. Great Diary Please write more often.

by Politicalslave 2008-07-30 02:55AM | 0 recs
Re: So Barack, Are You Just Gonna Take It?

Thanks for the encouragement.

As a thought experiment I try to go back to the good old days when I really did like McCain (the man, not the policies!)  Though that prism I look at the candidate on display now and am convinced that as an admirer I'd be retching even more at his implosion of character.

by January 20 2008-07-30 01:09PM | 0 recs
Re: So Barack, Are You Just Gonna Take It?

Even GOP spokesmodel Andrea Mitchell took McDesperate to task for claiming Obama wants to lose a war. On the rare occassions when the press actually does its job and holds McBush accountable, it's probably best for Obama to stand aside and let them chew him up.

by Glaurung 2008-07-29 11:55PM | 0 recs
Re: So Barack, Are You Just Gonna Take It?

Thanks, father of dragons!  I'll send a note off to CNN.

by Jess81 2008-07-30 04:43AM | 0 recs
A little class

will gain you enormous respect. As McCain foams at the mouth Obama can stay above the fray and look presidential.  McCain is having sleepless nights pissed that Obama isn't taking the bait.

A well disciplined organization indeed.

by hocuspocus 2008-07-29 11:47PM | 0 recs
Re: So Barack, Are You Just Gonna Take It?

These attacks du jour from McCreep are going to get 'old' fast.

by Glaurung 2008-07-29 11:57PM | 0 recs
Re: So Barack, Are You Just Gonna Take It?
Brilliant. Love the title. I especially loved the report CNN's Sanjay Gupta did tonight on that left side of the face removal of a growth. As they said, "The McCain campaign got probably the best news it could get by having it rapidly confirmed that Senator's McCain's growth was not malignant. It has just become so clear  that there is no ill-will towards McCain, despite his being pushed face down into the sewer of disgusting campaign tactics by his handlers and staff - one of who did actually say that John McCain didn't speak for the McCain campaign.

This unintentional snark is highly entertaining, but we are talking about someone who is running to be the President of the United States. I understand that McCain is trying to portray Obama as inexperienced, etc., but all it is doing is reminding people that McCain might have had the goods a while ago, but Republicans have a real need to figure out who this year's John McCain is going to be, if they insist on reframing relaity to fit their tired, deceptive and just more of the Karl Rover tactics that are not going to work.

The audacity of hopelessness, indeed. Some moran was also talking up the indisputably failed and washed out campaign tactic of accusing Democrats of having tax increases ready  to go on day one. This from the Party of a President who has incurred the most stunning federal deficit ever seen? I can't imagine how someone who was rabidly for big unnecessary government spending could have done a better job of destroying the economy than Bush. Offering up Ted Stevens ain't even gonna begin to cover it.  

I could possibly be persuaded to consider a constitutional amendment barring Republicans from having anything to do with  this country's economy (etc.) at this point. We're going to raise taxes? No, somebody is going to have to pay for the gross incompetence of Bush and his Party and it will take longer than the 8 years they have been running it into the ground while prancing about with their tax cuts. The hypocrisy is breathtaking. It's time to make Grover Norquist and his ilk drink 8 years worth of fthe filthy water they've been trying to drown that baby in the bathtub with.

by Jeter 2008-07-30 12:02AM | 0 recs
A great line

I heard during the primary wars --
when your opponent is in the process of killing himself, don't try to murder him.  

I've got to believe that while there must be a few yahoos in Podunk who are influenced by this garbage, the majority of undecided or leaning voters are seeing right through McCain's manure and are repulsed by it.  You don't have to think too long or hard about "willing to lose a war to win an election" to see where McCain just discounted the will of the American people.  (I like that in a GOP candidate, by the way)

Responding or even reacting to the political vomit from McCain is akin to answering the question "are you still beating your wife?"  The only smart way to answer that question is to ignore it as beneath you.

I'm actually glad to see the new McCain braintrust turning to the Rove playbook -- it shows they are incapable of new or clever.  It assumes the American people haven't learned anything in the past four years of sorrowfully studying their own navels.  

In 2008, you have to be digging pretty far down in your bag of tricks to resort to the tactics of George Bush.  And the more McCain postures like Mr. 22% the better that is for the rest of us.  

by grassrootsorganizer 2008-07-30 03:09AM | 0 recs
Re: A great line

That's a brilliant line - it would have saved me a whole of typing.  

The thing is that he's stepped beyond the Bush/Rove approach.  At least they came across as the nice guy as they were knee-deep in shit.  I think that Bush is either far more disciplined a politician, or he's really so damn dumb that he just could never tell where the truth lies.  (Probably he's not so dumb.)  McCain knows he's fallen off the deep end and it looks like he just can't stop himself. He's haunted by obvious tells.  So, where Bush could attack coldly and professionally, McCain makes everything look personal and petty.  If he keeps this up the debates are going to be a whole lot of excruciating fun.

by January 20 2008-07-30 01:18PM | 0 recs
Excelent diary, January 20. I have been

thinking along the exact same lines lately. I find myself screaming at the Obama campaign, "Come on people! Where's the counter ads?! Where's the fight!?" Then, when I calm down a bit, I see how McCain looks like a miserable, bitter ( can I say that?), old man flailing about hoping to hit something. It's not pretty and, by contrast, Obama looks contained, Presidential, and above the fray. But a VP who could go on the attack and smack down the angry little man would be a really good thing right about now. I'm thinking Hillary, or Biden. Now that's some attack I could get behind!

by Rumarhazzit 2008-07-30 05:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Excelent diary, January 20. I have been

And I'm sure they will.  Even if not as VP, I expect they'll still be brilliant attack dogs.  

However, I think it's wise to hold back even on these direct surrogates as long as the implosion is so spectacular in McCain's own special vacuum.  

The Obama campaign is putting out very positive rebuttals now.  This is good, it helps to hold his ground while still avoiding a highly negative battle.  I expect that when they do unleash the dogs of (campaign) war, the rallying cry will be we have been forced to step into the muck and will do so only as needed to clean it up.

by January 20 2008-07-30 01:23PM | 0 recs
Re: So Barack, Are You Just Gonna Take It?

I think there will be a new foreign policy ad that will be a "response and pivot to positive ad" like the gas ad.

There are so many quotes now from the MSM that this was a big smear job around and they will be very useful for legitimizing Obama's case. Perhaps they could even take a few snippets from Andrea Mitchell's report.

by politicsmatters 2008-07-30 05:23AM | 0 recs
Re: So Barack, Are You Just Gonna Take It?

Yep.   As I just mentioned above, I think they'll go somewhat negative at some point.  And with devastating effectiveness, of course.  But I also think they'll position the pivot as being a forced reaction to dirty campaigning from the very guy who claimed to be for a higher level of political discourse.

Right now they must be banking thousands of clips and quotes on the mendacity of the McCain team.

by January 20 2008-07-30 01:27PM | 0 recs
Re: So Barack, Are You Just Gonna Take It?

It's only a matter of time til McLame loses his cool on camera and America see's how dangerous this guy really is.

by venician 2008-07-30 06:34AM | 0 recs
People talk about the High Road

but few take it.  That is so consistently true, that when someone does the majority opinion is that they are "faking it".  This is so consistently true that the primary consolation I take from talking about my own efforts to stay on the High Road is that most will think badly of me for it, therefore it ironically ends up not being a pompous claim of glory (or so I fool myself into comfort, at least).

But it is worth taking the snide comments to promote the High Road.  It is the right way to live, because even in failure you can have the comfort of knowing you did not betray yourself, and cliché or not that is truly the measure that matters when all else is stripped aside.

For the sake of my children - if for no-one else - I am comfortable owning the success I have gained through working to stay on that Higher Ground.  It is important that they understand that they can and should feel proud when in their lives they do the same.  I am comfortable owning the failure that I have suffered when I permit my weaknesses to guide me into the mud.  It is important that my children understand that any temporal goodness they may gain by following similar paths comes at the cost of owning their mistakes, that the cost will be high, that it will be painful and that it may well be with them for life.  "No take-backs."

"But you can win using the Low Road!  Look at him, look at her, look at the success they have when they have slimed and lied!  You can't get there by the High Road!!"

Yes, in fact, you can.  And when you do, you can enjoy the view without the soul-rotting fear of Discovery.

Obama Rapid Response is a group I joined early this year when I became active in the campaign.  It is wholy and completely a self-organizing volunteer group which attempts - with greater or lesser success - to respond to attacks on the Senator and to promote positive messages in the media.  Recently, someone joined the group for a while, trolled with varying effectiveness, and left to expose the "nasty little secret" of ORR.  According to one source this is the same individual who was behind the "McCain's black baby" smear in the 2000 GOP primary (see the Comments).  Because I know that ORR has nothing to hide I copied my response to this slimeball to two major MSM figures.  I don't negotiate with blackmailers.

The trick to staying on the High Road is, funny enough, you have to mean it.   If it is true that you do not take the Low Road then the truth will, in fact, set you free.  John McCain has shown that he does not believe in the High Road enough to stake his career on it.  I believe that Barack Obama does.

I know I do.


by chrisblask 2008-07-30 06:49AM | 0 recs
Re: So Barack, Are You Just Gonna Take It?

Agree completely. Obama is moving forward, setting the agenda and generally staying in command of the news cycles, leaving McCain behind to fume over yesterday's news and cover himself in his own mud.

This early in the campaign, McCain's attacks are going to do more damage in the long run to himself than they will to Obama. By not engaging on McCain's level, Obama stays above the pettiness and stays on message.

by BobzCat 2008-07-30 06:54AM | 0 recs
Re: So Barack, Are You Just Gonna Take It?

Since Obama isn't taking the bait, McCain is out there whining, crying, and lying, all on his own.

As I've said to many concern trolls and genuinely concerned supporters. Do you think some blogger who writes for mojo and recs knows more about political strategy than the Obama campaign?

They ran a flawless campaign (only way they could win) and got some breaks in order to defeat a 30 point front runner in the primary. He beat the strongest political candidate in years (other than himself) and people doubt he can beat McSame?

This is Hillary Clinton we are talking about. A political icon in her own right and an awesome politician.

His "stay above the fray" approach (real or not) is a big part of his messaging and strategy.

I got tired of doubting the Obama campaign a long time ago. They obviously know a lot more than everybody else (especially armchair strategists) what it takes to win at the national level.

I trust Barack Hussein Obama.

by spacemanspiff 2008-07-30 07:13AM | 0 recs
Re: So Barack, Are You Just Gonna Take It?

good point

by wellinformed 2008-07-30 09:11AM | 0 recs
Re: So Barack, Are You Just Gonna Take It?

We obviously get nervous when we hear nothing back from the Obama campaign, 'cos we keep thinking of John Kerry's lack of response in 2004...

But, the whole purpose of these McCain attacks *IS *to get Obama to take the bait and get in the sewer with him...  If seh were the nominee, Hillary would have jumped right into the fight, for sure, and we would have loved her for it, but, in the long run, would it have helped her get elected?  'Cos, that's the only thing that really matters in the end...

The answer to that is, "I don't know."  The Obama team has won so far be being new and different.  Can they win again?  I hope so!

Right now McCain NEEDS Obama to come down to his level...  it's why he's getting so desperate...  We really want to fight back, but, sometimes, a Ghandi approach is better...

I hope that's the case here... We just have to have faith that the Obama team knows what it's doing...  They've beaten a Clinton, they can surely beat a McSame.

by LordMike 2008-07-30 11:28AM | 0 recs
Re: So Barack, Are You Just Gonna Take It?

Because Hillary's strategy worked so well for her in the primaries?

by ihaveSTILLseenenough 2008-07-30 11:32AM | 0 recs


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