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September 16, 2008

We Have Met The Enemy...

...and they is us. Ann Althouse looks at the latest Obama ad, which seems to have taken the low road:

"What's happened to John McCain? He's running the sleaziest ads ever. Truly vile."

"Dishonest smears that he repeats, even after it's been exposed as a lie. Truth be damned. A disgraceful, dishonorable campaign... It seems deception is all he has left."

The ad is an unsettling pastiche of cut and paste smears taken from various unseen sources, in many cases using only a word or two. There is no context, no proof, and no defined accusation one can directly refute.

Just a litany of slurs: faceless, anonymous, and very, very ugly. Althouse comments:

It seems likely that the viewer is just supposed to accept the assertion that there have been sleaziest ads, smears, and a lie, mainly because the names of newspapers appear on screen next to quotes.

... I think quite a few voters, like me, will feel very skeptical about generic assertions and quotes taken out of context. We American voters are competent ad watchers, and I don't think this will work on us.

... This ad screams its negativity. The ominous music. The string of very ugly words: sleaziest... vile ... dishonest smears ... lie ... damned ... disgraceful ... dishonorable ... deception. And yet the ad seeks to inspire outrage about McCain's negativity. But we're not watching McCain's ads. The example of sleaziness is the one before our eyes now.

On September 11th I wrote about our growing incivility problem:

We have become an unserious nation. A childish and ungrateful one: peevish and cruel and grasping. The kind of nation that somehow believes simple political disagreement justifies the kind of personal "demonization" we claim to oppose; the kind of people who will use any convenient excuse as a weapon to beat our opponents senseless; where those we disagree with are "freaks" and "sycophants" and "liars"; where nearly every sentence drips with venom.

It is nothing new in politics for candidates to shade the truth. Politics is a blood sport, andnd it's not hard to find regrettable examples of McCain ads where he arguably could be more evenhanded. But by the same token before the Obama campaign begins resorting to words like "liar", "sleazy", and "dishonorable" on the basis of campaign ads they believe distort the record, or which they disagree with, they may wish to consider that there is no shortage of Obama ads at which these same terms could be fairly leveled.

A brief search of a single fact check site yielded the following treasure trove of deceptive Obama ads:

This Obama ad pictures John McCain walking with "the lobbyists who run his low road campaign". There's just one problem: none of the men pictured are lobbyists.

Obama claims McCain's campaign is "fueled by lobbyists and PACs", but investigation revealed this to be false. Only 1.7% of McCain's coffers and 1.1% of RNC donations come from these sources. Lies? You decide.

Here, an Obama ad uses dated and out of context quotes to distort McCain's position on the economy.

Here Obama claims he "worked his way through college and law school". When he is fact checked, this claim turns out to be false.

He had a few summer jobs. I worked my way through college. What this meant to me was a 40 hour a week job and going to school full time at night, if the Senator from Illinois would like clarification. What it means to most people is that you pay your own tuition by working. It does not mean taking out loans and working a few summer jobs while not in school.

Here, Obama pads his resume. He claims credit for "passing" 3 laws. On review, it turns out he was one of five sponsors of the first law. Another was co-sponsored by Obama and 35 other Senators. Ironically, the only national law among the three (the other 2 are from his time in the Illinois Senate, though Obama mysteriously declines to mention this) does not bear his name at all.

The truth is sometimes ambiguous and facts often hard to pin down. For this reason it is unwise for candidates to toss around insults like "liar", "dishonorable", and "the sleaziest campaign on record". Such intemperate and ungracious rhetoric has a nasty way of coming back to haunt candidates when it is least expected:

Worst of all is the specter of a political party actively cheering on the very tactics they once claimed were beyond the pale. And then there's the voice of cynicism:

Obama can have it both ways. Call a press conference, and loudly and forcefully denounce this ad. Everyone will go, "What ad?" and look it up for themselves. So that's good for Obama - get as many people as possible and the cable news networks to show it. But in addition, he takes the high road and explicitly and publicly makes a big issue about the ad, and how it's wrong and there's no place for it in politics. Win-win.

You've got to love politics. I love the smell of Hope and Change in the morning. It seems to me that when you become that which you claim to oppose, you've lost the battle.

Posted by Cassandra at September 16, 2008 08:22 AM

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Obama and his surrogates remind me of the fellow in The Music Man. "We've got trouble here in River City. And that starts with "T" which rhymes with 'P" and that stands for Palin."

So they are flailing. And it isn't pretty. Back in the hopey changey period, Obama was "post partisan" and above all this. Now he's simply back in the muck with the "Bush lied" crowd. It is the default position of the Left. It's difficult for them to engage ideas and actually debate--so they scream that the other side is a buncha sleazy liars.

There are a number of legitimate points on which one might attack Palin and the choice of Palin as the Vice Presidential candidate.

But when the Lefties and the Obama surrogates headed straight for the gutter as their initial attack point, they ticked off the center of the electorate. In doing so they made it more difficult for them to later engage in an honest and reasoned debate about her suitability for the job. Victims of self inflicted foot wounds as it were.

Posted by: Mike Myers at September 16, 2008 11:50 AM

Well, the bad news comes in buckets today as NOW has announced it will not support the McCain candidacy "because" of Palin. I mean to lose the support of this non-partisan group is a terrible blow to the campaign (sarcasm intended).

Palin pick pushes US women's group to back Obama

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The National Organization for Women (NOW) said Tuesday it had been pushed by the Republicans pick of Sarah Palin as vice presidential nominee to back Democrat Barack Obama for the White House.
NOW is going to be endorsing the Obama-Biden ticket," NOW head Kim Gandy told National Public Radio (NPR), referring to Obama and his running mate Joseph Biden.
The 500,000-strong women's movement, which "very, very rarely endorses in a general election", broke with its tradition of neutrality after "the addition of Sarah Palin gave us a new sense of urgency," said Gandy.

Posted by: Frodo at September 16, 2008 12:17 PM

McCain better wise up before he loses the Move on endorsement to Obama.

Posted by: Frodo at September 16, 2008 12:18 PM

And it's all because of Sarah Palin!

Anderson Cooper said so. The Voice of CNN (and the Obama campaign) says that "all these negative things" that the McCain campaign has been saying "need to be refuted", as he read from the Obama - DNC press release.
So I guess that the charm period of Sarah with the networks is over? No more "Mr. Nice Guy"?

I blame Bush, don't you?

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at September 16, 2008 12:32 PM

Bush? Not me.

I blame Rove and Cheney and Clarence Thomas and Condoleezza Rice and Fox News and Reich wing bloggers all the unwashed bitter and clingy dregs of society who will not embrace CCCPtopia.

Magnificent bastages all... Salute!

Posted by: bthun at September 16, 2008 12:39 PM

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 09/16/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

Posted by: David M at September 16, 2008 02:19 PM

I can only hope that McCain/Palin unload on BHO/Biden soon regarding BHO's association with ACORN and voter fraud. Additionally, the problem with obtaining information concerning the Chicago Annenberg Challenge is undoubtedly traceable to Ayers who is covering for BHO.

McCain is a fighter pilot trained to dive in with the sun at his back smoking the opponent. I wait with baited breath the real truth about BHO and Michelle's past.

Posted by: vet66 at September 16, 2008 02:37 PM

Well, actually McCain was trained to fly A-4 Skyhawks, which are lightweight strike bombers. :)

But I will bet even money that we will NOT here from any of the major networks anything about:

1) Obama and ACORN
2) Obama and Ayers and the CAC
3) Obama and his voting record in the Senate
4) Obama and his step-brother George in Kenya

The only way any of this gets on major news organs is if somehow it gets pushed by an independent and then goes viral in terms of spreading to the unwashed bitter clingers out here in fly-over country. Then the cacophany will get too loud to ignore. Maybe.

Ya know, it's not about casting dirt, but these are parts of his past, and are fair game for evaluating the Man Who Would Be President.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at September 16, 2008 02:58 PM

Trivia question of the day: Who is Jill Jacobs?

Posted by: Rex at September 16, 2008 02:59 PM

Something on how both candidates have played with the system of campaign finance. Dishonesty in both houses. Of course Arianna sides with Obama on this. McCain though used public money to secure private loans.

Posted by: Miguel at September 16, 2008 03:21 PM

Well, McCain didn't actually use public money to secure private loans. What the private lenders used as assurance was the fact that McCain could get the public money if he had to.

Posted by: Rex at September 16, 2008 03:35 PM

From "The Swamp".
You are correct sir. So then the two campaigns did the same exact thing. Promise at one point, change course due to the other parties success in raising money, and withdraw from the public money part.

Posted by: mshannon at September 16, 2008 03:53 PM

Still no takers on who Jill Jacobs is?

Posted by: Rex at September 16, 2008 05:47 PM

Jumpin' Joe Biden's blushing bride?

Posted by: Cass at September 16, 2008 05:55 PM

As usual, Cass, you come through. I wonder how many others know? We all know who Cindy is, and Michelle, and Todd, but the media have been strangely silent about Jill.

Posted by: Rex at September 16, 2008 07:10 PM