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Monday, October 06, 2008

Is John McCain Out of Ammo?

Either Barack Obama reads my blog or the correct response to the newest McCain-Palin line of attack is obvious. I'll put my ego aside and guess it's the latter. First, a little background from a CNN fact-check piece:

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."

The terrorist that Barack Obama is pals with is William Ayers, a man Obama barely knows. A member of the radical Weather Underground in the '60s -- when Obama was eight years old -- Ayers represents a guilt by association attack that the right have been trying to get off the ground since Obama became the de facto Democratic nominee. The truth is less than shocking, according to the same CNN piece:

Beginning in 1995, Ayers and Obama worked with the non-profit Chicago Annenberg Challenge on a huge school improvement project. The Annenberg Challenge was for cities to compete for $50 million grants to improve public education. Ayers fought to bring the grant to Chicago, and Obama was recruited onto the board.

Geez, how awful and damning. They worked on the same non-profit to improve public education -- BOO! HISS! The fact-check piece tells us, "CNN's review of project records found nothing to suggest anything inappropriate in the volunteer projects in which the two men were involved." They end the piece with two words about Palin's claim; "Verdict: False."

But enough about CNN and more about me. I posted CNN's fact-check to my short post blog and added this bit of commentary:

McCain-Palin desperately needs to change the subject from the economy, but this strategy is pretty certain to backfire. Every time they come out with one of these things, Obama can say, "See? They don't want to talk about the economy. They want to drag this down in the dirt. They're out of material." Obama seems pretty hard to throw off message, so they're going to have to do better than this.

Which brings us to this, from Bloomberg News:

"Senator McCain and his operatives are gambling that they can distract you with smears rather than talk to you about substance," Obama, 47, said today in Asheville, North Carolina. "That's what you do when you're out of touch, out of ideas, and running out of time."

Like I say, obvious. With the numbers looking real bad for Team McCain, they're trying to change what this campaign is about. They want to make it about how much Barack Obama sucks. But they've already tried that -- it didn't work.

"One worry for Republicans is that McCain has already gone too negative too quickly; you never pull out the strongest punches against your opponent until the very end; it's hard to get tougher than the kindergarten ad... or over-the-top statements about Obama not being fit to lead," writes The Altantic's Marc Ambinder. McCain's been pretty damned negative throughout, so it's hard to see how this is much of a change. Given where this strategy of negativity has brought this campaign so far, this looks a lot like neocon reasoning -- if what you're doing isn't working, it means you're not doing enough of it. The reasoning presupposes that the reasoner is never wrong on anything but trifling details.

But seriously, after months and months of opposition research, this is what they've managed to dig up; Sean Hannity's talking points? I know Hannity -- like Bill O'Reilly -- likes to think he's got the skinny on how Americans think, but you'd think that'd get them out of the cable news talk hell that few people actually watch. If Hannity can't use Ayers to lift his ratings, why does McCain think he can use it to buoy his sinking campaign? I'm sorry, but I'm just not seeing the logic here.

So McCain and Palin jet around the country trying to get us all freaked out about some guy most of us have never even heard of. Meanwhile, things are happening that are really freaking out Americans:


The Dow Jones fell 569.8 to 9755.5, with the S&P 500 off 64.2 at 1035.0 despite moves by the Federal Reserve to instill confidence in the financial system through capital injections.

Nearly a quarter of the stocks on the New York Stock Exchange hit new lows within an hour of the opening of the markets, with every stock in the Dow Jones index down on the day.

The S&P 500 was flat to its trading level 10 years' ago, leading US commentators to speak of a "lost decade" in equity markets.

Hands up, who read that and still gives a crap about William Ayers? This new line of attack makes McCain seem hopelessly out of touch; a Republican Nero fiddling while Wall Street burns. This election may have once been about whether voters trusted Barack Obama, but with even Karl Rove's electoral map showing an Obama win, we can pretty safely assume that question's been put to bed. McCain's trying to reopen a wound that healed over long ago.

With nearly a month to go yet, McCain is out of ammo. This is like the scene where the bad guy empties a pistol into Superman's chest, then throws the gun at him -- as if that's going to work any better. Unless Team McCain can rewire their neocon brains enough to realize that doing more of what's failing just means failing more, then this will be an election already decided in Obama's favor.

As Barack Obama said, McCain is "out of touch, out of ideas, and running out of time." I don't see that changing.