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‘Good Morning America’s’ Chris Cuomo Grills ’60s Radical Bill Ayers
William Ayers, the 1960s radical whose violent history became a focal point in the 2008 presidential election, said today that the Republicans unfairly “demonized” him in an attempt to damage the campaign of President-elect Barack Obama.
Ayers remained militant in his defense of his bomb-throwing past and repeated a statement that has infuriated his critics: “I don’t think we did enough.”
The college professor also argued to “Good Morning America’s” Chis Cuomo today that the bombing campaign by the group he helped found, the Weather Underground, was not terrorism.
The Weather Underground bombed the Capitol, the Pentagon and the New York City Police Department to protest the Vietnam War.
“It’s not terrorism because it doesn’t target people, to kill or injure,” Ayers insisted.
Ayers became a bogeyman for Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin, who demanded to know more about Obama’s relationship with his Chicago neighbor. Palin accused Obama of “palling around … with a terrorist.”
Breaking his silence, Ayers told Cuomo that the GOP attack was a “dishonest narrative…to demonize me.”
He added, “I don’t buy the idea that guilt by association should have any part of our politics,” he said.
Ayers scoffed at the Republican effort to make his ties to Obama appear suspicious.
“This idea that we need to know more, like there’s some dark, hidden secret, some secret link,” Ayers said. “It’s a myth thrown up by people who want to exploit the politics of fear.”
But he was unapologetic about his militant actions during the Vietnam War.
“What you call the violent past, that was a time when thousands of people were being murdered every month by our own government… We were on the right side,” he told “GMA.”
The co-founder of the Weather Underground was, as McCain has claimed, unrepentant about the the bombings his group committed during the 1960s.
“The content of the Vietnam protest is that there were despicable acts going on, but the despicable acts were being done by our goverment… I never hurt or killed anyone,” Ayers said.
“Frankly, I dont think we did enough, just as today I dont’ think we’ve done enough to stop these wars,” he said.
Ayers Says He Is ‘Family Friend’ of Obama
Ayers did soften his stand on violence during the “GMA” interview.
“We knew it was wrong. We knew it was illegal. We knew it was immoral,” he said, but they felt they “had to do more” to stop the Vietnam war.
He urged people today “to participate in resistance, in nonviolent,direct action” to stop the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Ayers, 63, currently a distinguished professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, became a political piñata for McCain, R-Ariz., and Palin during the presidential campaign.
Despite Obama’s attempt to portray their relationship as a distant one, Ayers, in a new afterward to his book “Fugitive Days,” describes Obama as a “neighbor and family friend.”
On “GMA,” Ayers again downplayed any close ties to Obama despite the reference to”family friend.”
“I’m talking there about the fact that I became an issue, unwillingly and unwittingly,” he said. “It was a profoundly dishonest narrative… I’m describing there how the blogosphere characterized the relationship.”
“I would say, really, that we knew each other in a professional way on the same level of, say, thousands of other people,” he said.
He added, echoing a phrase that Obama used to describe Ayers, “I am a guy around the neighborhood.”
Ayers acknowledged that he held a reception in his home when Obama began his political run for state office.
“He was probably in 20 homes that day,” Ayers said.
During the campaign, Obama tried to defuse the Ayers issue by condemning Ayers’ past actions as “detestable.”
“The notion that … me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values, doesn’t make much sense,” Obama argued.
Sarah Palin Still Concerned About Ayers Tie
Ayers made a point of remaining silent during the presidential race, but his proximity to Obama was highlighted on Election Day when the two men nearly ran into each other in the same polling place. As recently as Wednesday, Palin was still raising the Ayers’ issue, telling NBC that she was still concerned about Obama’s relationship to the former radical. Palin was the fiercest critic of the Obama-Ayers tie, accusing Obama of “palling around with a domestic terrorist.” Ayers was a co-founder of the Weather Underground, a radical anti-war group said responsible for a militant bombing campaign against government targets.
While he was a fugitive, he married Bernardine Dorhn, another member of the Weather Underground.
Obama and Ayers have several connections. The two men have also served on boards together, including the Woods Fund of Chicago and the Chicago Annenberg Challenge.
McCain on Jay Leno: Reflects campaign experience
When a CBS correspondent reported last month that Barack Obama’s campaign had a malodorous airplane and a dismissive attitude toward the media, Robert Gibbs, the candidate’s top spokesman, was not pleased.
“Robert wrote a rather tendentious note to me,” Dean Reynolds says. “He would get in your face, not in a very heated way, but he would question your stories.”
Gibbs, who transition officials say is in line to become White House press secretary, can be funny, gossipy and an invaluable source of information about his boss, journalists say. He also monitors coverage intensively, pushing back against the smallest blog post he considers inaccurate.
“This is not someone who stays above the fray,” Newsweek reporter Richard Wolffe says. “His manner allows him to do tough stuff in a softer way. He could deliver a harsh message, but do it with a little sense of humor, so you’d feel punched in the stomach but not in the face.”
Asked about complaints that he retaliated against reporters who were deemed unfair, Gibbs invokes the pressure of the campaign. “In hindsight, there are discussions I had in the heat of the moment that if I had to do over again, you would do differently,” he says. “I don’t doubt there’s countless episodes you would go back and do over again. I think you do better when you treat people with respect. There were a couple of times that I flew off the handle.”
Now the sparring will take place in the glare of televised briefings. After a career spent working for Democratic candidates and lawmakers, the 37-year-old Alabama native is about to become the public face of the Obama administration.
While he can be combative in private, Gibbs is affable and smooth-talking on camera, often deflecting uncomfortable questions with a quip. Colleagues say Gibbs channels the president-elect in a way that goes beyond their shared passion for college football. Obama had an initial tendency to overanswer questions, but Gibbs has taught him how to pivot back to his scripted point.
“He’s the last person Barack talks to when he’s thinking about how to handle reporters’ questions,” says Linda Douglass, a campaign spokeswoman. “We call him the Barack Whisperer. He completely understands his thinking and knows how Barack wants to come across.”
That quality was not lost on journalists covering the highly disciplined campaign. “A huge asset that Robert has is that he’s in the room with the president-elect,” says Jake Tapper, ABC’s senior White House correspondent. “He has his trust and his ear. He’s not just a press flunky who gets handed a piece of paper with talking points.”
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That whole anti-American, friend-to-the-terrorists thing about President-elect Barack Obama? Never mind.
Just a few weeks ago, at the height of the campaign, Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota told Chris Matthews of MSNBC that, when it came to Mr. Obama, “I’m very concerned that he may have anti-American views.”
But there she was on Wednesday, after narrowly escaping defeat because of those comments, saying she was “extremely grateful that we have an African-American who has won this year.” Ms. Bachmann, a Republican, called Mr. Obama’s victory, which included her state, “a tremendous signal we sent.”
And it was not too long ago that Senator John McCain’s running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, accused Mr. Obama of “palling around with terrorists.”
But she took an entirely different tone on Thursday, when she chastised reporters for asking her questions about her war with some staff members in the McCain campaign at such a heady time. “Barack Obama has been elected president,” Ms. Palin said. “Let us, let us — let him — be able to kind of savor this moment, one, and not let the pettiness of maybe internal workings of the campaign erode any of the recognition of this historic moment that we’re in. And God bless Barack Obama and his beautiful family.”
There is a great tradition of paint-peeling political hyperbole during presidential campaign years. And there is an equally great tradition of backing off from it all afterward, though with varying degrees of deftness.
But given the intensity of some of the charges that have been made in the past few months, and the historic nature of Mr. Obama’s election, the exercise this year has been particularly whiplash-inducing, with its extreme before-and-after contrasts.
The shift in tone follows the magnanimous concession speech from Mr. McCain, of Arizona, who referred to Mr. Obama’s victory Tuesday night as “a historic election” and hailed the “special pride” it held for African-Americans. That led the vice president-elect, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., to get into the act. During the campaign, Mr. Biden said he no longer recognized Mr. McCain, an old friend. Now, he says, “We’re still friends.” President Bush, in turn, also hailed Mr. Obama’s victory, saying his arrival at the White House would be “a stirring sight.”
Whether it all heralds a new era of cooperation in Washington remains to be seen, and it may be downright doubtful. But for now, at least, it would seem to be part of an apparent rush to join what has emerged as a real moment in American history.
The presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin said she was hard-pressed to find a similar moment when the tone had changed so drastically, and so quickly, among so many people of such prominence.
“I don’t think that’s happened very often,” Ms. Goodwin said. “The best answer I can give you is they don’t want to be on the wrong side of history, and they recognize how the country saw this election, and how people feel that they’re living in a time of great historic moment.”
Others in the professional political class were not so sure. Some wondered whether simple pragmatism was the explanation.
“My experience is, it’s less an epiphany and more a political reality,” said Chris Lehane, a former Democratic strategist who worked on the presidential campaign of Al Gore. “I’m thinking they will continue in this direction so long as the polls indicate it’s a smart place to be.”
There are notable exceptions: Rush Limbaugh has given no quarter. And while his fellow conservative radio hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham have noted the significance of his victory — on Wednesday, Ms. Ingraham said “Obama did make history” and “It’s not the time to vilify him” — they seem to be in line with Bill O’Reilly of Fox News. Relishing his new role in the opposition camp, Mr. O’Reilly said, “The guy is still a mystery, so our oversight will be intense.”
Some lawmakers also do not appear inclined to give up the fight. Representative John A. Boehner, the House minority leader, has already criticized Mr. Obama’s choice of Representative Rahm Emanuel, Democrat of Illinois, as his chief of staff.
But other people who opposed Mr. Obama, like Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, have good reason to try to make up with the winning ticket. As an ardent backer of Mr. McCain, Mr. Lieberman angered the Democrats, who in 2000 nominated him as their vice-presidential candidate. After losing a Democratic primary challenge in 2006 and then winning as an independent, he still continued to caucus with the Democrats.
Attending an event with Mr. McCain in York, Pa., in August, Mr. Lieberman said the race was “between one candidate, John McCain, who has always put the country first, worked across party lines to get things done, and one candidate who has not.”
As a speaker at the Republican National Convention, Mr. Lieberman went further than Democrats expected by criticizing Mr. Obama for “voting to cut off funding for our troops on the ground.” (Mr. Obama voted for bills that included plans for withdrawal from Iraq and against others that did not.)
This week Mr. Lieberman, who has been asked by the Democratic Senate leadership to consider giving up his position as the chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, released a statement congratulating Mr. Obama for “his historic and impressive victory.” It continued, “The American people are a people of extraordinary fairness.”
Marshall Wittmann, a spokesman for Mr. Lieberman, said that as far as the senator was concerned, “It’s over, and it’s genuinely time to find unity and move forward behind the new president.”
And what about that whole bit about Mr. Obama not always putting his country first? “He believes that President-elect Obama — and, then, Senator Obama — is a genuine patriot and loves his country,” Mr. Wittmann said. “The only point he was making in his campaign was about partisanship.”
Mr. Obama is apparently ready to bury the hatchet with his new fans. “President-elect Obama has made it clear that he wants to put partisanship behind and work together to solve the many challenges confronting the country,” said Stephanie Cutter, a spokeswoman for the Obama transition team. “We’re pleased that others do as well.”
The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, who will help decide Mr. Lieberman’s committee assignment, sounded less ready to forgive, at least when it came Mr. Lieberman’s support for Mr. McCain. “Joe Lieberman has done something that I think was improper, wrong, and I’d like — if we weren’t on television, I’d use a stronger word of describing what he did,” he said on CNN Friday.
Powell, endorses, Obama, Iraq, transformational, figure, security, Campaign, McCain, victory, win, president, Attacks, Colin, inclusive
College students on the NAACP’s ‘Vote Hard’ bus tour encourage people to vote in the George Washington Carver Homes housing project in Selma, Ala.
WASHINGTON — The national and state Democratic parties are spending far more heavily than their Republican counterparts on field operations, after years of ceding the advantage in ground-level organizing to the Republican voter-turnout machine.
Finance records show Democrats have hired five to 10 times more paid field staff in swing states than the Republicans.
Democrats have set up 770 offices nationwide, including in some of the most Republican areas of traditionally “red” states — like one in Goshen, Ind., a manufacturing town with a population of about 30,000. It is the seat of Elkhart County, which voted for President George W. Bush in 2004 by more than 40 percentage points. By comparison, Republicans have about 370 offices nationwide.
The focus on the ground-game is a change from past election cycles, when the Democratic party’s prime objective was getting as many broadcast ads on the air as possible. In recent campaigns, Democrats outsourced their ground organization to outside groups, such as labor unions and liberal activists.
The year’s change is made possible by Democratic Sen. Barack Obama’s historic fundraising. His campaign is doing its own advertising, taking that pricey burden off the parties. Campaign-finance data show the Democratic Party has essentially ceded television advertising to Sen. Obama’s campaign. In 2004, the Democratic Party spent nearly $120 million on advertising in support of then-nominee John Kerry, compared to only $500,000 this fall.
And the Obama campaign also is pouring money into state-party budgets. The senator’s presidential campaign along with the Democratic National Committee have put at least $112 million into state parties in recent months, a review of campaign-finance filings shows. They have poured $6 million into both North Carolina and Virginia and even sent $1.8 million into Montana — nearly two dollars for every resident of that state.
We really feel that this election is going to come down to our ground organization and what happens in the final days of the campaign,” said Jen O’Malley, the Obama campaign’s battleground-states director.
Four years ago, the party’s get-out-the-vote effort was largely run by an independent group named America Coming Together, or ACT, which was financed with $164 million from rich liberals but legally prevented from coordinating with their candidate. The group was criticized by some Democrats for not reaching deep enough into the outer suburbs and rural areas, where Republicans were victorious. ACT was also legally restricted when it came to mentioning candidates, and was fined $775,000 after allegedly attacking President Bush in its voter drives.
Republicans say their volunteer-based turnout machinery from 2004 is intact and more than twice as productive as last cycle in making phone calls and house calls. “This operation is working on all eight cylinders,” said Rich Beeson, the political director of the Republican National Committee and a veteran of the 2004 effort. “It’s doing what it was designed to do.” The party has been honing the same model for eight years, developing veteran volunteers who often work full-time without pay.
Republican spending on field staff has grown just slightly since 2004, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis covering reports from the presidential campaigns, as well as national and state parties. The GOP spent an estimated $22 million on personnel from June 1 to Oct. 15, compared to $19 million over the same period in 2004.
Democrats have increased their staff expenditures from $30 million to $56 million — and they employed an estimated 4,500 workers making more than $1,500 a month as of mid-October, the latest information available. Sen. McCain and the Republicans had about 1,100 at that point.
The expansion was made possible by Sen. Obama’s decision to decline public financing for his campaign, freeing himself from its spending caps. Instead he has relied on the legions of supporters who have already contributed over $600 million.
Sen. McCain is limited to spending the $84.1 million he accepted from the government after his September nomination. Sen. Obama is on track to spend more on television advertising than any candidate in history, likely spending more than $100 million on ads in October alone.
I like the sharing your peanut butter sandwich idea – but here’s where I can see the McCain people picking a hole in it. Obama’s tax cuts are for the working people – but if he gave half of his sandwich to his favorite nursery school friend – or even two friends – the Republicans could argue that that kid’s mother didn’t make/work for the sandwich and therefore it was equivalent to a government give-away, sharing your sandwich in this light could even be considered welfare as the kids mom never worked for the sandwich. But then McCain’s argument could be turned here – that under communism everybody worked – therefore were deserving of the share of the sandwich. And likewise under Obama capitalist tax plan the working poor and middle class – will be given a helping hand. Whether they are deserving – could be argued – John McCain doesn’t think so – but I think Obama does.
If you think of John McCain’s idea about wealth sharing we have to look at the loaf of bread – McCain would take two slices out throw them out to 95% of working people and fight like the dickens to give the rest to the top 5% – who he feels are more deserving. What Obama would say that the 5% could keep most of their loaf but out of any new loaves baked in any year he is asking for an additional 3% to pay for services, the war, the debt, roads and bridges and teachers in schools, college tuition, health-care and tax cuts for the working middle class.
Americans seem to have a very short memory for politics but I implore you to not forget the face of Republicanism today–not to forget the Bush/Cheney years.
Some of us have known since the coupe of the 2000 election by anti American Republican party operatives, what many are just now beginning to realize.
Republican fiscal, social and foreign policies are failures and the Republican base is an embarrassment to America… and to humanity.
For Republicans to win in the public sphere they must propagandize, cheat, steal and promote fear and racism. The McCain campaign of 2008 has been a dismal failure. They will soon begin their full court press to commit election fraud. They must, they are an unmitigated failure.
Get ready for the long fight ahead.
Unbelievable ~ incredible ~ that McCain is so hard up for cash that has to go and ask for money from a country – he has practically declared the enemy –
McCain has gotten himself caught in his own net ~ through his deregulation tinkering ~ in an area he doesn’t understand – the economy ~ he has left his Wall Street buddies who would have helped him out hard up for cash ~ in addition he has pissed half of them off with his angry rant at the start of the financial crisis. So that many would not support him on princple.
On Russia ~ between himself and Palin – have gone out of their way to demonize that country ~ so much so that when a Russian diplomat receives a confidential letter – signed by John McCain requesting funds for his haranguing campaign – it’s not in Russia’s interest to keep the matter confidential.
So much for Georgia !!
Question is how many other foreign diplomats and embassies has the McCain camp solicited funds from?
And what is more ~ is although Russia is developing a market economy – it is still very much a Socialist run state.
This is beyond desperate!!
Barack spoke to an audience of 100,000 in St. Louis, MO on October 18, 2008.
Visit Vote For Change to get all the info you need to vote on November 4.
Biden on ‘The McCain I knew.’
John McCain’s campaign is pretty much a shambles right now.
If you don’t believe me, just listen to John McCain. His chief goal these days is calming down his crowds, not firing them up.
And that is an honorable thing to do. It may not be a winning thing to do. But it is honorable.
The real problem for McCain is that Palin is running a separate — and scary — campaign that does not seem to be under anybody’s control.
Sarah Palin, once seen as a huge plus to the ticket, is now increasingly emerging as a liability.
Forget that an independent legislative panel found Friday that she had abused her power and violated ethics laws as governor of Alaska. Forget that with the possibility of Palin being a heartbeat away from the presidency, McCain gives up the argument that his ticket represents experience and a steady hand on the tiller.
The real problem for McCain is that Palin is running a separate — and scary — campaign that does not seem to be under anybody’s control.
She storms around the country saying: “Our opponent … is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country.”
She also says: “This is not a man who sees America as you see America and as I see America.”
Get the drift? Obama is not only different, not only an alien incapable of loving his country, he is an actual friend of terrorists who would attack America.
The great benefit of putting Palin on the ticket, we were told, is that it would excite the Republican base. Maybe it will. But the Republican base has never been smaller. And it is insufficient to carry the McCain-Palin ticket to victory.
To win, the Republican ticket must attract a significant number of independent voters, swing voters and even some Democrats. Do Sarah Palin’s attacks really help achieve that?
Her attacks certainly appeal to some. Cries of “traitor” and “terrorist” and “off with his head” are heard at Republican rallies when Obama’s name is mentioned.
This is scary stuff. And you know who is getting scared by it? John McCain.
And Palin is not the only one who is fear-mongering. Karen Tumulty of Time magazine was invited by the McCain campaign to visit its operations in Virginia on Saturday. So Tumulty was there when Virginia Republican Party Chairman Jeffrey M. Frederick “climbed atop a folding chair to give 30 campaign volunteers who were about to go canvassing door to door their talking points — for instance, the connection between Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden.”
“Both have friends that bombed the Pentagon,” Frederick said. “That is scary.”
At Tumulty points out, “It is also not exactly true — though that distorted reference to Obama’s controversial association with William Ayers, a former ’60s radical, was enough to get the volunteers stoked. ‘And he won’t salute the flag,’ one woman added, repeating another myth about Obama. She was quickly topped by a man who called out, ‘We don’t even know where Sen. Obama was really born.’ Actually, we do; it’s Hawaii.”
(And, actually, John McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone, a location at least as exotic as Hawaii.)
Sighs and lies. Swift boat. Attack. Just do it.
This is scary stuff. And you know who is getting scared by it? John McCain.
When a crowd member said at a town meeting in Lakeville, Minn., on Friday that he feared what would happen if Obama were elected, McCain said that Obama is “a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States.”
The crowd booed.
Why wouldn’t it? McCain says there is nothing to fear from Obama, while McCain’s running mate says Obama pals around with terrorists who target America.
Is there a little confusion here?
At the same event in Minnesota, a woman in the crowd told McCain that she doesn’t trust Obama because “he’s an Arab.”
Taking the microphone from her, McCain said, “No, ma’am. He’s a decent family man, a citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what this campaign is all about.”
Maybe that is what McCain would like his campaign to be all about. But others are telling him to forget that “fundamental issues” stuff.
The polls stink, they are telling him. The voter registration numbers stink. And Obama may have the most effective ground organization in Democratic history.
There are those whispering in McCain’s ear that if he gets into the gutter, he can get into the White House.
So how can McCain close the gap? There is a playbook that tells him how. It is a playbook that the Republicans have used for a number of cycles now: Promise low taxes, promise to better defend the country against its enemies, and then attack, attack, attack.
Willie Horton. Sighs and lies. Swift boat. Attack. Just do it.
But McCain is hesitating. “If you want a fight, we will fight,” McCain told that crowd in Minnesota. “But we will be respectful.”
The crowd booed again.
“I don’t mean to reduce your ferocity,” McCain said. “I just mean to say you have to be respectful.”
Is that possible? There are those whispering in McCain’s ear that if he gets into the gutter, he can get into the White House. Ads are not enough, they tell him. He must launch the attacks personally and without reservation.
But honor is still an important word to John McCain. He would like to win the presidency and retain his honor.
Some tell him he cannot do both. At this point, however, he is trying.
Although McCain says ‘I’m a Fighter’ no one history has made a comeback – from being 10 points down in the polls 3 weeks before the election – to win. Everyone is wondering – what’s McCain’s message – and maybe he should make that clearer – but I think what has happened is that people have heard his message and haven’t bought it. Tax cut proposals for multi-millionaires and billionaires – while the average person is losing their jobs or seen money tighten through higher prices. And because of the US administration of which John McCain belonged – not only the US economy, but economies around the world have been rocked by decisions John McCain and his trusted economic adviser made – the economic adviser one who was saying America has become a nation of whiners – and the recession was in people minds.
God’s on our side says Lieberman ~ not on theirs!
If he wants a Jihad ~ struggle — bring it on!
You can take so many things away from a person – but I’m not sure God (the Great All) is one.
Via CNN streaming video, I watched Sarah Palin’s event in Clearwater, Florida, this morning. She was heartily introduced there by John McCain’s pal Joe Lieberman. The former Democrat is a very strange figure these days, far from his moorings in the Democratic Party. But you can see how his personal friendship with McCain, and his genuine support for the Iraq war, might cause him to help out his buddy on the stump.
It was jarring, however, to hear Lieberman’s full-throated endorsement of Sarah Palin, a woman with whom he has no prior relationship, and whose policy credentials you have to think the wonky 20-year Senator would find suspect in any other context.
“She’s so strong, she’s so capable, she’s so competent,” Lieberman told the cheering crowd. Emphasizing her “faith,” he added that she is someone who “with your help–and God’s help–will be the next vice president of the United States.” More big cheers.
The religiousity continued when Palin bounded onstage. She commented right away on the number of American flags in the crowd, declaring: “God bless America–you guys get it!”
And then it was on with the attacks on Obama: “There are some candidates who use change to promote their careers. And then there are some candidates, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change,” Palin said. She went on to reiterate charges that Obama is friendly with terrorists (Bill Ayers), wants America to lose in Iraq, and smears US troops in Afghanistan.
More: For this heavily churchgoing GOP crowd, Palin is showing a side we haven’t seen in her TV interviews and at the debate. Mentioning the potential for wind and solar power in Florida she exclaims: “God has so richly blessed you here!” Between her and Lieberman, that makes four references to faith and God in about five minutes.
I’m of two minds about how to deal with the McCain campaign’s further descent into ugliness. Their strategy is simple: you throw crap against a wall and then giggle as the media try to analyze the putresence in a way that conveys a sense of balance: “Well, it is bull-pucky, but the splatter pattern is interesting…” which, of course, only serves to get your perverse message out. I really don’t want to be a part of that. But…every so often, we journalists have a duty to remind readers just how dingy the McCain campaign, and its right-wing acolytes in the media (I’m looking at you, Sean Hannity) have become–especially in their efforts to divert public attention from the economic crisis we’re facing. And so inept at it: other campaigns have decided that their only shot is going negative, but usually they don’t announce it, as several McCain aides have in recent days–there’s no way we can win on the economy, so we’re going to go sludge-diving.
But since we are dealing with manure here, I’ll put the rest of this post below the fold.
It is appropriate that the prime vessel for this assault is Sarah Palin, whose very presence on a national ticket is an insult to your intelligence. She now has “credibility,” we are told, because she managed to read talking points off notecards in the debate last week with unwitting enthusiasm.
Over the weekend, she picked up on an article in The New York Times, which essentially says that Barack Obama and the former terrorist Bill Ayers have crossed paths in Chicago, served on a couple of charitable boards together, but aren’t particularly close. To Palin–or her scriptwriters–this means that Obama has been “palling around” with terrorists. Now, I wish Ayers had done some serious jail time; he certainly needed to pay some penance for his youthful criminality–even if most people in Chicago, including the mayor, have decided that he has something of value to say about education. But I can also understand how Obama, who was a child when Ayers was cutting his idiot swath, would not quite understand the enormity of the professor’s background. (I got to know Alger Hiss twenty years after the fact–he was a printing salesman then, a friend of my father’s–and thought of him as a sweet old man, if a good deal more liberal than dad’s other friends.)
In any case, this is rather rich coming from Palin, who is married to a man who belonged to a political party–the Alaskan Independence Party–that wanted to secede from the union. (I should add here that the Times may have been overreacting to the McCain campaign’s attack on its fairness here: the Ayers story was a nothingburger, but it was placed prominently in the top left hand corner of page one–a position that would seem to indicate that it contained important news, which it didn’t.)
Then we have the ever-reliable Bill Kristol, in today’s New York Times, advising Palin to bring up the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Palin, of course, believes that’s a darn good idea:
“To tell you the truth, Bill, I don’t know why that association isn’t discussed more, because those were appalling things that that pastor had said about our great country, and to have sat in the pews for 20 years and listened to that — with, I don’t know, a sense of condoning it, I guess, because he didn’t get up and leave — to me, that does say something about character. But, you know, I guess that would be a John McCain call on whether he wants to bring that up.”
So then, I’d guess, it would be appropriate to bring up some of the nuttiness that passes for godliness in Palin’s religious life. Leave aside the fact that The Embarracuda allowed herself to participate in a cermony that protected her from witchcraft, how about her presence–she didn’t “get up and leave”– at a sermon by the founder of Jews for Jesus, who argued that the Palestinian terrorist acts against Israel were God’s “judgment” on the Jews because they hadn’t accepted Jesus.
Speaking of Jews, the ever-execrable Sean Hannity has been having intercourse with a known Jew-hater named Andy Martin, who now wants to expose Barack Obama as a Muslim. According to the Washington Times:
In 1986, when Mr. Martin ran as a Democrat for Connecticut’s 3rd Congressional District seat under the name “Anthony R. Martin-Trigona,” his campaign committee filed papers saying its purpose was to “exterminate Jew power in America and impeach U.S. District Court of Appeals judges in New York City.”
Calling all Podhoretzs! Where’s the outrage? I mean, don’t the hateful doings at Palin’s church and Hannity’s perfidy deserve a lengthy exegesis from Pete Wehner or Jennifer Rubin or one of the other empretzled ideologues over at Commentary?
As I said, I’m of two minds about this. I don’t want to give currency to this sewage, so it will remain below the fold. And I’ll try to devote the lion’s share of my time to the issues–the war, the economic crisis, the fraying health insurance system, the environment–that should define this campaign. But what a desperate empty embarrassment the McCain campaign has become.
The half decent and (relatively) factual part of Rove’s speech/article was left out – that’s the way they always start – the following is where he thinks the McCain campaign should go – and how they should get there.
So much riding on Palin….I just had my own Rovian thought !!
Achilles was only as strong as his heel !!
McCain-Palin must deepen those doubts by pounding away on questions about Obama’s character, judgment and values. Drawing on Obama’s own record and statements, they need to paint him as a big spender, class warrior and cultural elitist; they need to say he’s never worked across party lines or gotten his hands dirty solving big issues. But the duo must also give voters reasons to support them. They must crystallize a positive, forward-looking vision so people who see Obama as unqualified have something to hang on to. It can’t be a laundry list of positions. McCain-Palin must offer a narrative about what they will do to help America see better days, especially on kitchen-table concerns.
McCain must launch these themes in the two remaining debates. Knockouts are welcome but unlikely and unnecessary. Introducing a theme and sticking to it day after day worked this past July, when McCain successfully depicted Obama as a celebrity taken with his own press notices. The GOP nominee did it right in the first debate when his assaults were formal and indirect (“Senator Obama has the most liberal voting record …”) while Obama was personal and direct (“John, 10 days ago you said …”).
McCain and Palin should also respond to key misstatements by Obama-Biden, but only to flip the discussion back to Obama’s own deficits. They should not chase rabbits: that would only occupy time better devoted to who can fix the big stuff broken in Washington and reach across the aisle to work for the American people by putting country first.
The election still favors Obama. But Sarah Palin’s debate performance, and the passage of the economic-rescue plan, may bookend a bad couple of weeks for McCain. He has a month to turn things around. It’s doable; but it won’t be easy.
McCain plans to go after Obama hard in the coming weeks – but what can he say that he has not already said. McCain’s best chance is to make this election about personalities – like – Palin looks great – vote for me !! But with the financial crisis – piled on top of 1 million home foreclosures – and almost 800,000 jobs lost this year alone – McCain is going to have a difficult time stirring this election back round to a personality contest!
Anyway McCain says he plans to let it all out – to remove the gloves – NEXT TUESDAY !!
Set your clocks folks for the Straight Talk Showdown!
Sen. John McCain and his Republican allies are readying a newly aggressive assault on Sen. Barack Obama’s character, believing that to win in November they must shift the conversation back to questions about the Democrat’s judgment, honesty and personal associations, several top Republicans said.
With just a month to go until Election Day, McCain’s team has decided that its emphasis on the senator’s biography as a war hero, experienced lawmaker and straight-talking maverick is insufficient to close a growing gap with Obama. The Arizonan’s campaign is also eager to move the conversation away from the economy, an issue that strongly favors Obama and has helped him to a lead in many recent polls.
“We’re going to get a little tougher,” a senior Republican operative said, indicating that a fresh batch of television ads is coming. “We’ve got to question this guy’s associations. Very soon. There’s no question that we have to change the subject here,” said the operative, who was not authorized to discuss strategy and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Being so aggressive has risks for McCain if it angers swing voters, who often say they are looking for candidates who offer a positive message about what they will do. That could be especially true this year, when frustration with Washington politics is acute and a desire for specifics on how to fix the economy and fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is strong.
Robert Gibbs, a top Obama adviser, dismissed the new McCain strategy. “This isn’t 1988,” he said. “I don’t think the country is going to be distracted by the trivial.” He added that Obama will continue to focus on the economy, saying that Americans will remain concerned about the country’s economic troubles even as the Wall Street crisis eases somewhat.
Moments after the House of Representatives approved a bailout package for Wall Street on Friday afternoon, the McCain campaign released a television ad that challenges Obama’s honesty and asks, “Who is Barack Obama?” The ad alleges that “Senator Obama voted 94 times for higher taxes. Ninety-four times. He’s not truthful on taxes.” The charge that Obama voted 94 times for higher taxes has been called misleading by independent fact-checkers, who have noted that the majority of those votes were on nonbinding budget resolutions.
A senior campaign official called the ad “just the beginning” of commercials that will “strike the new tone” in the campaign’s final days. The official said the “aggressive tone” will center on the question of “whether this guy is ready to be president.”
McCain’s only positive commercial, called “Original Mavericks,” has largely been taken off the air, according to Evan Tracey of the Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks political ads.
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s performance at Thursday night’s debate embodied the new approach, as she used every opportunity to question Obama’s honesty and fitness to serve as president. At one point she said, “Barack Obama voted against funding troops [in Iraq] after promising that he would not do so.”
Palin kept up the attack yesterday, saying in an interview on Fox News that Obama is “reckless” and that some of what he has said, “in my world, disqualifies someone from consideration as the next commander in chief.”
McCain hinted Thursday that a change is imminent, perhaps as soon as next week’s debate. Asked at a Colorado town hall, “When are you going to take the gloves off?” the candidate grinned and replied, “How about Tuesday night?”
Yesterday in Pueblo, Colo., McCain made clear that he intends to press Obama on a variety of familiar GOP themes during the debate, as he accused the Democrat once again of getting ready to raise taxes and increase government spending.
“I guarantee you, you’re going to learn a lot about who’s the liberal and who’s the conservative and who wants to raise your taxes and who wants to lower them,” McCain said.
A senior aide said the campaign will wait until after Tuesday’s debate to decide how and when to release new commercials, adding that McCain and his surrogates will continue to cast Obama as a big spender, a high taxer and someone who talks about working across the aisle but doesn’t deliver.
Two other top Republicans said the new ads are likely to hammer the senator from Illinois on his connections to convicted Chicago developer Antoin “Tony” Rezko and former radical William Ayres, whom the McCain campaign regularly calls a domestic terrorist because of his acts of violence against the U.S. government in the 1960s.
The Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. appears to be off limits after McCain condemned the North Carolina Republican Party in April for an ad that linked Obama to his former pastor, saying, “Unfortunately, all I can do is, in as visible a way as possible, disassociate myself from that kind of campaigning.”
McCain advisers said the new approach is in part a reaction to Obama, whose rhetoric on the stump and in commercials has also become far harsher and more aggressive.
They noted that Obama has run television commercials for months linking McCain to lobbyists and hinting at a lack of personal ethics — an allegation that particularly rankles McCain, aides said.
Campaigning in Abington, Pa., yesterday, Obama continued to focus on the economy, even as he lashed out at McCain.
“He’s now going around saying, ‘I’m going to crack down on Wall Street’ . . . but the truth is he’s been saying ‘I’m all for deregulation’ for 26 years,” Obama said. “He hasn’t been getting tough on CEOs. He hasn’t been getting tough on Wall Street. . . . Suddenly a crisis comes and the polls change, and suddenly he’s out there talking like Jesse Jackson.”
Obama highlighted a new report showing a reduction of more than 159,000 jobs last month, and he linked the bad economic news to McCain and Palin.
“Governor Palin said to Joe Biden that our plan to get our economy out of the ditch was somehow a job-killing plan; that’s what she said,” Obama told a crowd of thousands. “I wonder if she turned on the news this morning. . . . When Senator McCain and his running mate talk about job killing, that’s something they know a thing or two about, because the policies they’ve supported and are supporting are killing jobs in America every single day.”
Before the bailout crisis, aides said, McCain was succeeding in focusing attention on Obama’s record and character. Now, they say, he must return to those subjects.
“We are looking for a very aggressive last 30 days,” said Greg Strimple, one of McCain’s top advisers. “We are looking forward to turning a page on this financial crisis and getting back to discussing Mr. Obama’s aggressively liberal record and how he will be too risky for Americans.”
I Killed A Moose and I liked it!
Back to Palin’s folksy tales – if Sarah Palin is good at telling a story so is Joe Biden – the only difference is he actually thinks the facts matter. He would not tell a story to conceal the fact that he knows nothing about the issues – but besides oil – that’s all Palin has been doing.
For all the speculation over how Sarah Palin will fare in the vice-presidential debate Thursday night, her Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, faces a challenge of his own: taking on the Alaska governor without coming across as sexist or a bully.
Barack Obama’s campaign has assembled a team of top advisers, including several prominent female debaters, to help prepare the Delaware senator, known for his tough attacks and candor, to debate the Republicans’ first female vice-presidential nominee. Since Sunday, the team has been hunkered down at the Sheraton Suites hotel in Wilmington, Del.
Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm has been playing the role of Gov. Palin. “I want to beat him up a little, so he does well,” Gov. Granholm told reporters. One Biden aide said Gov. Granholm was chosen to portray Gov. Palin in the preparations because she ran as an outsider and reformer in Michigan in 2002 and 2006. Like Gov. Palin, Gov. Granholm is a former beauty queen and sports mom.
Sen. Biden also has received advice from Democratic primary opponent Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, California Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, and a number of top campaign aides.
Aides say Sen. Biden will emphasize issues rather than attacks, and debate preparations have centered on making the case for Sen. Obama rather than tearing down Gov. Palin. “I think this will come down to bigger questions than who can throw a sharp elbow. This is a much bigger election” than that, says Patti Solis Doyle, Sen. Biden’s campaign chief of staff.
Sen. Biden recently said reporters are in a “time warp” if they think he will prepare any differently to debate a woman than a man. He cited debating Sens. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland and Olympia Snowe of Maine and other women in the U.S. Senate. Sen. Biden debated Sen. Clinton 12 times during the Democratic primaries.
“It seems like the only people in the room that think that debating a woman is going to be fundamentally different are people who don’t hang around with smart women,” Sen. Biden said aboard his campaign plane.
Sen. Biden’s 30-plus years in the Senate could open a line of attack from Gov. Palin, who left the campaign trail Monday to prepare for the debate at Sen. McCain’s ranch in Sedona, Ariz., McCain aides said. She could also use Sen. Biden’s experience to portray him as the Washington status quo.
While Biden aides insist gender isn’t an issue, it is rare for a woman to be on the ticket. The last time — and the first time — a woman was on a major-party ticket was in 1984, when Democrat Walter Mondale picked Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate.
Ms. Ferraro debated then-Vice President George H.W. Bush in an encounter that was widely interpreted as having sexist overtones. “Let me just say, first of all, that I almost resent, Vice President Bush, your patronizing attitude that you have to teach me about foreign policy,” Ms. Ferraro replied to one attack. At the same time, strategists say Sen. Biden can’t soften his approach or appear to be changing his tactics because he is debating a woman; that, too, could be perceived as sexist.
Aides say Sen. Biden can counter some of the Alaska governor’s down-home appeal by playing up his working-class roots in Scranton, Pa. Sen. Biden, consistently ranked as one of the least-wealthy senators, still lives in Wilmington and takes the train to work in Washington. “I think Biden should use his sense of humor and really turn this into a debate about who’s folksier,” says Democratic strategist Donna Brazile.
Oops that was 133 – the new figure for the lobbyist in and around the McCain camp – is now 134!
It can be argued that lobbyist are people ~ too – So McCain could still be Working For You!
Hmm… Naa !
Keep up to date at McCainSource.com
What can we say? At the moment Obama maintains an 8 point lead over McCain and he wants to suspend his campaign again – well` that’s entirely up to him!! It is clear that those friends on Fox and Friends are hinting that he should do just that – looks like the rabbit up their sleeve is showing – if they are planning a trick. McCain suspends his campaign again for little or no good reason and they – and other right-wing press pounce and promote McCain as the responsible leader type – but then they will not be able to spend so much time on their coverage of Palin. I can see the flies surrounding whatever is in that paper bag already
David Kurtz at TPM writes, “John McCain made the morning show rounds today. On Fox they were virtually begging him to ‘suspend’ his campaign again in the wake of the bailout failure yesterday on the Hill. You know, since it worked out so well the first time. McCain’s answer: He just might suspend again.”
McCain’s comments follow a blog post by William Kristol yesterday arguing, “if this is really ‘a national economic crisis,’ and others have failed to lead, then McCain should lead–by re-suspending his campaign (fine, let observers mock him when he announces this), and leading his party and the Congress towards a solution. They won’t mock if he can pull this off.”
Watch the video of McCain on Fox News this morning:
Here’s John McCain is full fixing mode – off to fix the financial crisis – in the meeting with the President Obama and others John McCain’s voice was barely audible!
Obama did attend on the request of the President – who has been making such a big deal about suspending his campaign – in order to deal with the problem – had almost nothing to add – given the perfect opportunity.
Let’s see how long this charade can continue – will he or won’t he show up for the debate tonight?
That he also wants to postpone the VP debate is telling – a Biden vs. Palin debate – everyone can’t wait to see that – could McCain think she needs more time to prepare?
We would love to hear more about the Russian Alaska connection.