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Posted by on Oct 4, 2008 in Politics | 35 comments

McCain Campaign Negativity Officially Now Hits New Low


As of today, not only are the gloves off, but so is any semblance that the McCain campaign is one that can end in a White House that unites the country and deals with opponents in a way other than polarizing demonization with this statement by Republican Vice Presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin.

Readers can go to the link themselves since we don’t like to advertise this kind of political rhetoric on this site and would react the same way if the same thing had been said about John McCain Republican.

We’ve run several posts now about reports that the McCain campaign has decided to go negative in a new way. Palin’s attack is essentially a mega centimeter away from being a new form of McCarthyism. Can it work? Perhaps.

But there will be some independent voters who will cast very quick protest votes against the McCain-Palin ticket for this kind of rhetoric, and perhaps cast protest votes right down the line against the GOP. Some voters have wanted to MOVE AWAY from this kind of politics. It does show a kind of change: a descent to even sleazier depths of the politics of personal demonization that so many independent voters already decry.

UPDATE: Mark Halperin adds:

Her remarks come in response to a New York Times story on Obama’s relationship with former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers.

McCain campaign and RNC distribute her words by email to reporters.

And the New York Times does not find that Obama was a close bud. Here’s the link and a key quote:

More recently, conservative critics who accuse Mr. Obama of a stealth radical agenda have asserted that he has misleadingly minimized his relationship with Mr. Ayers, whom the candidate has dismissed as “a guy who lives in my neighborhood” and “somebody who worked on education issues in Chicago that I know.”

A review of records of the schools project and interviews with a dozen people who know both men, suggest that Mr. Obama, 47, has played down his contacts with Mr. Ayers, 63. But 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, whom he has called “somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8.”

Obama campaign aides said the Ayers relationship had been greatly exaggerated by opponents to smear the candidate.

“The suggestion that Ayers was a political adviser to Obama or someone who shaped his political views is patently false,” said Ben LaBolt, a campaign spokesman. Mr. LaBolt said the men first met in 1995 through the education project, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, and have encountered each other occasionally in public life or in the neighborhood. He said they have not spoken by phone or exchanged e-mail messages since Mr. Obama began serving in the United States Senate in January 2005 and last met more than a year ago when they bumped into each other on the street in Hyde Park.

See the comments above on the likely reaction of some independent voters to this kind of political tactic.

More blog reaction to Palin’s comments is HERE.

UPDATE II: Marc Ambinder has some interesting thoughts on this. He suggests the McCain campaign is trying to short-circuit Obama’s credibiliity ASAP due to Obama’s strong attack on McCain’s argument that he is a tax cutter.

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.

And, in an earlier post, he has this to say about Palin’s attack:

It’s that Obama “is not a man who sees America as you and I do.” This is the message that opponents of Obama began with: he’s not one of us. He’s culturally foreign. He doesn’t share your values. He’s dangerous. It worked a little bit in the summer when there was nothing else to pay attention to. The McCain campaign hopes that it will somehow get those voters who’ve crossed the river of Obama-doubt to jump back across to the other side.

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  • donthelibertariandemocrat

    “Readers can go to the link themselves since we don’t like to advertise this kind of political rhetoric on this site”

    I don’t understand your policy. If the candidates are saying this, surely it’s relevant. Better to debunk it, or criticize it , than ignore it. You can be fair without ignoring something.

  • StockBoySF

    This coming from the Governor of Alaska who is a strong supporter of a group who wants Alaska to secede and break up the US….

  • This isn’t surprising nor am I saddened by it. This is American politics. And we’re human. If something feels like it may be slipping away, we unsheathe the claws and start scratching hard.

    The McCain Campaign may be too late for this line of attack to work on the targeted group. The Obama-Ayers Affair has been out there for awhile and McCain has said little to nothing about it. The first McCain-Obama debate seems have diffused much of the “Obama’s scary” and not presidential talk.

  • joegandelman

    We’ve quoted lots of peppery things before. Where did I say that we now have a blanket policy. The world wont’ fall apart if on this post we don’t help spread sleazy political quotes. The whole point of inflammatory statements is to get media and blog coverage. On this post people can expend a tiny bit of energy and click on it themselves. Unfortunately, I predict this is just the beginning of what will be one of the most negative final four weeks of a campaign in american political history. And if it works, look for other candidates in both parties to draw a lesson from it and do the same thing in future races…as our bar goes lower and lower and lower as to what American voters will enable and reward.

  • Silhouette

    They’re building up to “you know what”; starting small with the terrorist BS and Reverend Wright, building up to…


    The Obama campaign is like a flower just starting to bloom. The McCain campaign is loading their sprayers with herbicide.

    Obama needs a plan, a solid plan. And he needs one FAST.

  • JWeidner

    Quite frankly, I hope that Obama hits McCain back on his own association in the past – Charles Keating. McCain was demonstrably tied to the last great financial disaster in this country – the Savings and Loan debacle, and thought the fundamentals of our economy were sound during the middle of this one.

    It doesn’t take much to tie the two together and point out how disastrous a McCain presidency would be to our economy.

    At the same time, I hope Obama doesn’t really go here. I’d love for the American people to prove that we’re above buying into McCain’s sleaze. The far right will cheer him on, of course, but so long as moderates and independents see this new “McSleaze” for who he is, then Obama should be fine.

  • superdestroyer

    Since McCain has zero chance of winning, who cares what his campaign tactics are. Instead of posting endless and pointless entries about Sarah Palin, poll results, or McCain’s incomptent campaign, maybe people should start talking about what will happen after Senator Obama is elected.

    What is more important, the idiotic campaign strategy of an incompetent candidate who has zero chance of winning or who will be the Sec. of Treasury in the Obama Administration.

    Maybe netroots should try to demonstrate that they are different from the wingnuts and start talking about what should be expected of the upcoming Obama Administration instead of talking about pointless campaign tactics and trying to spin the errors of Senator Obama.

  • tazman1953

    John McNasty McCain is just out of touch. For the first time in years you can’t win an election by BS. The voters want FACTS not negitive untrue facts. Ayers was around when 40 years ago? Obama now hangs out with terrorists more BS. This is the only thing McCain and Rove no. It is not working this time. The are lost in time

  • Ricorun

    Sil, I commend you for your restraint, lol! Anyway, anyone who claims they didn’t see this sort of thing coming is either (a) oblivious, or; (b) dishonest. The only difference is that this time the McCain campaign isn’t trying to blow smoke ahead of time with some kind of excuse (e.g, Obama didn’t agree to town hall meetings; Obama didn’t travel overseas enough; the media was mean to Palin, etc.). Like it mattered.

    Anyway, I have to assume that the Obama campaign has known for some time the attacks were coming. Thus I assume they’re prepared for them. It would surprise me greatly if they aren’t. But if they aren’t, they have no one to blame but themselves. Silly season is over. Vicious season is now upon us. We should all feel so proud… not.

  • StockBoySF

    I was speaking with a highly respected banker (and I feel it is important to point that out to show that he is educated and generally thoughtful) at a big bank in Atlanta just yesterday (Friday) and the conversation turned to politics….. this particular banker brought up Obama’s association with Ayers as one of the reasons he would not vote for Obama. He did not trust Obama. He also mentioned Rezko, Wright and Michelle’s statement about loving America… While our conversation on politics did not last long the only issue he disagreed with Obama on was abortion and sex education….

    One point is that many people are voting based on the smears. But the other point I’d like to make is that I wonder how many people who care about the smear stuff are still out there to be persuaded…. My feeling is if you’re of this sort of mind, then this has already hit your radar and there aren’t a whole lot of people like this left to draw based on smears.

    If that’s the case and McCain already has these people in the bag, then he would do better to run on his policies so people who are apt to be persuaded by the issues can see McCain’s policies and vote for (or against). Otherwise if McCain just smears Obama, then fair minded people will probably vote for Obama by default- since it is Obama who is getting his positions out there for people to look at.

  • JSpencer

    The “palllng around with terrorists” comment is unacceptable in the extreme. If McCain doesn’t apologize for it then he’s lost all his hard-earned honor imo. Giving this a pass because it’s “politics” is also wrong, since standards have to be adhered to at some point. Palin started out being a sort of a reactionary, Alaskan Gidget, now with this latest attack on Obama she’s morphing into a truly disgusting person.. and she’s taking McCain with her.

  • gadfly

    Readers can go to the link themselves since we don’t like to advertise this kind of political rhetoric on this site and would react the same way if the same thing had been said about John McCain Republican.

    This claim of fairness and objectivity is false. This site regularly publishes and endorses commentaries from people like Shaun Mullen and Michael Stickings that are far more negative and extreme. I call “liar” on this one.

  • JSpencer

    Joe, I applaud your decision to provide the link without advertising the idiotic rhetoric itself. Of course this won’t please everyone (particularly those who mistakenly imagine themselves to be arbitors of objectivity 😉 It’s always refreshing to see someone with healthy sensibilities stand on principle in this anything goes, chaff-mistaken-for-wheat society.

  • StockBoySF

    Joe, I agree with JSpencer on providing the link…. The great thing about this site is that you encourage divergent view points, and while you may not agree with nor like the way some of your authors come across you let them have their own style and their own say. I think this is freedom of the press. It’s often a hard line to walk, but you’ve chosen to let the authors say what they want in their own style. As a counterpoint, people can weigh in on those articles.

    I for one don’t want to come to a site where everyone says the same thing and is happy. I’ve found this site to be rewarding because of the dialogue and I have change my opinion on a few things as well. Lastly, if I read about an issue on here and see different points of view, than in “real life” I have better interactions because I can see where someone might be coming from after reading something similar on here. So I can offer more to conversations I have with others I talk with one on one.

    Besides, sometimes I vent on here (which I’m always embarrassed to do, even on here) and then have more moderate discussions with others. 🙂


  • Elaborate

    Subject: Skeleton’s in the closet…
    Finally, Obama’s character may get vetted. Associations matter,and when there is a long consistant pattern of him associating with american hating, convicted thugs, radical terriorist,and voter fraud groups, it begs for investigation.
    Who’s on the list?
    1.Bill Ayers-terriorits, bombed USA in the 60’s;Co-executive board member w/ Obama, held ‘announcement party’ for Obama’s senate race.
    2.Tony Rezko-Convict and shaddy real estate dealer. Sold Obama land below value, in exchange for $millions of state funds
    3. Rev. Jeremy Wright-Obama’s Pastor for 20 years, USA white and gov’t hater, teaches black liberation theology, Obama’s titled boook ‘Audacity of Hope’ was from a Wright sermon. He married Obama & Michelle, baptized their children
    4.ACORN-voter reg. fraud, ex-Obama employer, relationship with Fannie/Freddie bad loans
    5.Franklin Raines-ex CEO Fannie, adv. for Obama, walked away with $90M, proven to cook books at Fannie
    6. Jim Johnson-ex CEO Fannie, Chair of Obama VP search team, walked away $20M
    7.Mayor Dailey-Chicago Mayor convicted of ties to Chicago Mob, political mentor for Obama
    8.Ahmadinejab-USA hating Iran’s President soon to be friend of Obama
    9.Louis Farrakhan-bigot and anti-semitic,Obama worked with on Million-Man-March. Obama has praised Farrakhan in his books, and given speech’s with him.
    10.Saul Alinky- Auth/Mentor for Obama, wrote ‘Rules for Radicals’, Obama followed radical doctrine while community organizer
    11.Father PFleger-Radical Chicago Priest, kicked out of diocese, who gave speech on hating whites, and calling Hillary Clinton a ‘white entitlist’, while giving speech at Obama and Rev. Wright’s church
    12.Rashid Khalidi-The co-founder of the Arab group, Columbia Univ. prof, is a harsh critic of Israel, worked on behalf of the PLO a terror group.Khalidi held a fundraiser in 2000 for Obama’s run for U.S. Hs. of Represt.
    Starting to get the idea?

  • JSpencer

    Obama’s character has been vetted quite thoroughly. Those who don’t accept this are likely pinning thier hopes on connections that have already been debunked or discarded as bogus. That said, I realize his detractors don’t really care so much about “vetting” as they do about “smearing”.

  • GeorgeSorwell

    Next debate:

    McCain: My opponent, Barack Hussein Obama, pals around with terrorists.

    Obama: John, I understand you’re angry. A lot of Americans are angry these days. That’s because many promises have not been kept these last eight years.

  • JSpencer said: “Giving this a pass because it’s “politics” is also wrong, since standards have to be adhered to at some point.”

    Your right but it isn’t going to happen during Election ’08. Maybe we’ll get better in Election ’12. Maybe…

  • elrod

    Three months ago I worried about this sort of thing. Now? Not a chance. This is so transparently desperate and the electorate is concerned about the economy more than anything else.

    I can promise you one thing: anybody who claims to be voting against Obama only because of these “radical associations” is a racist. It’s the same as believing he’s a Muslim. Utterly irrational and nonsensical statements.

    Now, if you oppose Obama for other reasons and you throw in Ayers/Wright, etc. for good measure then you are not necessarily a racist. But if you oppose him ONLY because of these “association” issues then you most likely are racist.

    I’ve found in conversations I’ve had with admitted racists – and there are plenty here in Tennessee – who have exhausted all the anti-Obama cultural arguments (these are people who agree with Obama on the issues) and the “associations” thing is still part of the arsenal. These same people have explicitly said they worry that Obama will “give everything to the blacks.”

    The problem is that the associations argument only works for committed racists who were not likely to vote for Obama no matter what. Those who really do care about the economy and are planning to vote for Obama on that basis are not going to pay attention these association issues – especially as they’ve been in the public view for months now.

    My advice to the Obama campaign when these ads start rolling out is to mock McCain for soiling himself with dishonor, call him a “tired and desperate old man watching his political future fall away,” etc. If necessary, bring up the Keating Five. But don’t get thrown too far off track with this stuff. Obama has proven so far that by sticking with his message he wins. He doesn’t need to get in a tit-for-tat with a loser.

  • JWeidner

    LOL Elaborate. Pretty weak tea if all you can do is spout Republican talking points. Try harder.

  • donthelibertariandemocrat

    You have mentioned in just a few posts Hugh Hewitt and Bill O’Reilly. On my own little blog today, I considered mark-to-market rules, the fact that the federal debt under Bush has grown more than any other president, the consequences for the economy of less equity extraction from homes, whether bailouts make money, what caused the rise of home prices, etc. I consider that dealing with issues. I have never had the occasion to mention Hugh Hewitt or Bill O’Reilly. I enjoy your blog, but you cover quite a bit more than just issues. I consider Palin’s remark more important than anything said by Bill O’Reilly or Hugh Hewitt. I guess you don’t.

    • Rambie

      donthelibertariandemocrat, “On my own little blog today, … ”

      Sorry if you’ve mentioned it before, what what is your blog?

  • daveinboca

    What Elaborate said. If Elaborate is reciting an RNC talking point list, the usual tripe on this site is recycled DNC & drivel.

    I’ve spent the day watching football and then descend to this place after watching a sprightly SNL spoof on both the debates and another skit on the stupidity of Pelosi, Frank, and GWB.

    Veteran Dem superlawyer Bob Bennett was involved in the Keating Five investigation, he is a left-wing Dem and the brother of Bill Bennett who isn’t. Bob says McCain had zero culpability in the Keating mess & the four Dem Senators coaxed him into it for “balance.” McCain was guilty of bad judgment, nothing more. Bob will vouch for McCain despite their political differences.

    Barney Frank’s boyfriend was involved in the CRA ramp-up in Fannie Mae during the time Clinton proposed it and Frank blocked investigations of the fact that the CRA was defaulting at a rate five times above the normal rate—in the early nineties. Later Frank again blocked investigations proposed by GWB in ’05. Dodd and Obama were the two top recipients of Fannie Mae slush donations—all legal of course—- to keep their RICO Ponzi operation on the good side of the Senate. Obama made over $100 K in revenue from FanFred in only two years—-they must have had high hopes for his Chicago-type favors coming in the future.

    That’s a conflict of interest almost as big as that male prostitution ring Barney was running in his Capitol Hill basement. BTW, Saturday Night Live’s Pelosi skit had her calling in her friend George Soros who said he was about to short the US dollar like he shorted the UK pound in the early ’90s. Soros is still under indictment in France, though in corrupt Britain, he has managed to buy off his charges of criminal malfeasance. SNL did the country a service by recalling Soros as the Caliostro behind sock-puppets Pelosi, Dodd, and Frank.

  • I’ve made my ultimatum for verifiable proof of a radical association with Ayers, Wright, Rezko, et al. to the morning after the third debate. If, by then, there is nothing from the McCain camp but questions and fear mongering, they are off my radar for consideration.

    Same goes for Obama with Keating et al.

    • Gichin13

      There is well documented evidence of tiese between Keating and McCain. Keating did business with Cindy and her dad. They were friends for years and Keating was not only a contributor, but also a long time friend.

      The better question is not verifiable association, but whether McCain acted improperly on Keating’s behalf. My recall is that McCain pretty stupidly went to a meeting with 3-4 Senators (maybe Cranston, Glenn, somebody else?) early on that could have been construed as pressuring regulators to back off Keating. After the stench started to whiff off Keating more clearly, McCain backed off and had nothing else to do with him (I believe a couple of the folks kept pushing the issue but McCain bailed out).

      I have not seen Obama go after the Keating 5 issue though.

  • Gichin13

    Wow, pretty scary to see what crack does to some folks. Put down that pipe people.

  • Davebo

    One advantage of countering with Keating is that not only do you bring up McCain’s past poor judgement, but you also tie him yet again to the Bush dynasty. Remember, Neil Bush and Silverado Savings and Loan? That collapse alone cost tax payers over one billion dollars.

  • mlhradio

    I don’t worry much about the false accusations of assocation with Rezko and Ayers and the like by the anti-American wing of the Republican Party these days. A few months ago, I might have been more concerned. But at this point, as the saying goes, it’s already “baked into the cake”.

    Everybody who cares about this stuff has already heard about it, and already made up their minds. Bringing it up now is not going to sway any new minds. (Same is true with McCain’s sleazy Keating Five connections – old news, folks).

    Fibber McCain’s best hope is that any heated discussion over Obama’s already-disproven links with Ayers and Rezko and the like is that it will draw out all of the oxygen from the room and prevent real discussion about real issues. However, external events have a way of driving the discussions, and any non-political event (like, say the meltdown of the US financial system, anyone?) can easily disrail any attempt at a smear campaign.

  • DLS

    The Liberal Voice will hit lower lows before Obama wins the election this November and there is no more excuse for libs to be agitated. McCain’s campaign efforts are likely to accomplish little. That’s especially true insofar as the cultists are concerned; they have refused to examine any of Obama’s negatives from Day One.

    More interesting tomorrow on my airplane ride to California will be last week’s and this week’s Economist, which addresses the bailout, the two US Presidential candidates (may also graze the two VP candidates), and economic problems in the rest of the developed world (the USA is not the only place with problems). I have to say, that’s more important right now than c hildish overreaction to the McCain campaign. Roger Bootle’s second well-known book (“Money for Nothing”) goes on the airplane in addition to the boat trip this weekend across Lake Michigan and back as it discusses not only deflation risks and the stock bubble, but the housing bubble and the risk of a developed-world slump instead of continued world-wide economic progress (mainly through expanded trade, the best thing that could happen to the undeveloped _and_ developed world). But the articles about the two Presidential candidates will be worthwhile. I believe this week’s Economist has a 20-page or longer section about this…

  • DLS

    Elrod, are you serious about your bogus “racism” explanation of opposition to radical subversive criminality? Whatever happened to “thou shalt not lie”? Is that subject to the same “cafeteria” selectivity we see from the American Cafeteria Liberties Union?

  • CitizenKang

    On why “overt racism” isn’t Obama’s biggest problem I suggest Nicholas Kristof’s NYT op-ed, link here.

    My humble thoughts on this new tack (and a few other things) here.

  • Leonidas

    After the liberal attacks on Palin, I hardly see how liberals have any room to complain about McCain attacking Obama’s character. Its not like the Obama campaign hasn’t engaged in this too, look at their spanish ad trying to tie McCain to Limbaugh and their efforts for months to try to run against George Bush. Those with some perspective have good justification to accuse and condemn both camps for their actions, but anyone who would point the finger at just one side is fooling only themselves and other partisans, no matter which candidate you are supporting.

    Both campaigns are guilty as charged.

  • AustinRoth


  • Guest

    Forgive a silly question: I grew up abroad, with the metric system… Could I impose upon your good nature to tell me what on earth a “mega centimeter” is? If you say the campaign is “a mega centimeter away from McCarthyism” – my understanding is that the “mega” prefix means an order of multitudes in the millions… So a mega-centimeter would be one million centimeters, or 10,000 meters, or 10 Kilometers, roughly 6.2 miles. Is that really what you meant to say?

    And McCarthyism? Please, why don’t you convict her of the Kennedy assassination as well, while you’re at it? Hey, she likes guns, she must have been the second gunman on the Grassy Knoll – and the fact that she wasn’t even born at the time is just one of those silly, irrelevant, inconsequential things we call facts… Like the charge that she banned books from her town’s library that hadn’t yet been published.

    Look, two wrongs don’t make a right, but the Obama campaign deserves it. Did you voice such loud outrage when they brought up the Keating Five, completely omitting the fact that McCain was totally exonerated?

    As for the media, no, they don’t deserve the insults that Palin is tossing at them. They deserve the insults Ahmadinejad has tossed at Israel, and then some.

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