Over the past couple of days, there’s been a good bit of attention towards the change in tone of the presidential campaign, more specifically, the McCain campaign. “McCain Denounces Pitchfork-Wavers”, announces the Time Magazine blog. And “Obama Thanks McCain for Admonishing Reporters”.
The incident in question is a campaign rally in which McCain told his supporters to “be respectful” of Obama, reassuring one man that Obama is nothing to be “afraid” of, and correcting one woman who described Obama as an “Arab.” The shift is being described as the McCain campaign’s backing off from fear-mongering and personal attacks; even Palin has been reined in and is now just calling Obama a baby-killer. Even the most cynical sources are describing it as a good gesture, but performed too late; “McCain Tries to Tame Flames He Earlier Fanned.” My reaction was the same, “thank God; maybe we’re pulling back from the brink, although they shouldn’t have taken it that far in the first place.” (Once again: this is the campaign that compared their opponent to the Antichrist).
So I was surprised that of all the reports on the rally I’ve seen, only one article, in the New York Times mentions this:
But moments later, Mr. McCain, the Republican nominee, renewed his attacks on Mr. Obama for his association with the 1960s radical William Ayers and told the crowd, “Mr. Obama’s political career was launched in Mr. Ayers’ living room.”
Which is odd, because the supposed “connection” to Ayers was already beaten out and invalidated long ago, and the only value it had to the Republican side of the campaign was that they could call Ayers a “terrorist.” Take advantage of the fact that people don’t read past headlines, and you can link “terrorist” and “Muslim” with your “Country First!” slogan, and plant the idea that the first step of Obama’s administration would be to bomb the Pentagon.
I want to believe that McCain’s admonishing the crowd was sincere, if only for this reason: when a woman said “He’s an Arab,” McCain replied with, “No, no ma’am, he’s a good man. A family man.” A gaffe like that would never be pre-scripted. That would indicate it was a case of the old McCain — excuse me, the earlier McCain, the one who said he wouldn’t allow a smear campaign — reasserting himself after seeing first-hand the depths his campaign had reached.
That’s the best case scenario, and it’s still not good. Because it indicates it’s not his campaign, assuming it ever was. He’s trying the underhanded guilt-by-association tactics of Joseph McCarthy, and the say-whatever-I’m-told-to-say tactics of Charlie McCarthy. When Palin goes on the offensive with whatever crap she’s expected to dredge up, you have to feel a little bit of sympathy for her, because she’s an idiot. (I so wanted to believe that she was more than the vapid moron the press was making her out to be, and she repeatedly proved me wrong). A senator with McCain’s experience shouldn’t be parroting back whatever the party tells him to say.
The worse case would be that it’s completely insincere, just another tactic to convince undecided voters that they’re not evil, even as they’ve got their hand in the Big Cookie Jar of Evil, grabbing another Evil Cookie after we’ve already told them not to spoil their Evil Dinner.
I suppose the only thing worse than that would be that they’re completely sincere, and they really believe there’s something to the Ayers connection, and it’s not just code language for “Guys, he’s black and his middle name is Hussein! Are you blind?!?“
Holy crap, that’s the scariest thing of all. What if they really do believe everything that they’re saying? Their catch phrase is “Who is Barack Obama?” What if that’s not just an attempt at McCarthy-esque fear-mongering, but they really don’t know?
I’d feel better if they were just plain evil, than that stupid. “Never attribute to stupidity that which can be adequately explained by malice.” Luckily, there’s a lot more evidence of evil: in that New York Times article, McCain’s campaign manager and aides once again reveal themselves to be The Worst Living Americans. John McCain is at his core an honorable man, and it’d be hypocrisy to demonize him just as the GOP has tried to demonize all opposition for years. But seriously, I want to do everything I can to make this an internet meme: Rick Davis and Nicolle Wallace are The Worst Living Americans. They are irredeemably evil, and they should never be allowed to work on anything ever again.