Saturday, October 18, 2008

McCain’s ground war

According to Pew Research: Democrats overwhelmingly believe that Obama's television ads are truthful, while they doubt the truthfulness of McCain's. Similarly, Republicans believe McCain's ads are truthful, while a most of them say Obama's are not. Independents have a much more favorable view of Obama's ads than they do of McCain's. By a margin of 42%-26% independents say Obama's ads are truthful. When it comes to McCain's ads, independents are evenly divided: 32% say they are truthful and 33% say they are not. Public views of the candidates continue to fluctuate. Obama's image improved somewhat last week: 29% say their view of the Democratic nominee has become more favorable in recent days; whereas the public view of Biden remains steady. For John McCain and Sarah Palin, though, changing views are leaning more negative than positive.

How could this be? With just a few days until the election, John McCain and his Republican allies are stepping up their character assaults, which paint Barack Obama in television ads, mail, and now, automated phone calls, as a shifty coddler of terrorists. It is not surprising at all that McCain and Palin have shrunk ever further into filthy campaign tactics, grasping at the only straws they believe they have left...playing the "fear" card. They cannot win if they talk about policies – especially where the economy is concerned. It is a disgusting form of negative campaigning – calling people randomly off a computerized list, during dinner time, and reciting a message that is misleading. Republicans should be talking about serious issues, but they cannot win if they talk about the issues. They know this.

Truth is not at the forefront of the McCain Team’s robocalls. They are using deceit and fear. In the recent past, Senator John McCain has denounced such phone calls: In the 2000 primaries, Mr. McCain was a target of misleading calls that included innuendo about his family, and he blamed them in part for his loss to George W. Bush. This past January, too, in South Carolina, McCain described the calls against him as “scurrilous stuff,” and his campaign set up a “truth squad” to debunk them.

Here are some of the mud-slinging, anti-Obama robocalls being made by the McCain/Palin campaign with the RNC. Obama is a Baby-killing, America-ignoring, Hollywood-loving, and Terrorist-loving...

One says: "I'm calling on behalf of John McCain and the RNC because you need to know that Barack Obama and his Democrat allies in the Illinois Senate opposed a bill requiring doctors to care for babies born alive after surviving attempted abortions -- a position at odds even with John Kerry and Hillary Clinton. Barack Obama and his liberal Democrats are too extreme for America. Please vote -- vote for the candidates who share our values. This call was paid for by McCain-Palin 2008 and the Republican National Committee at 202 863 8500." Yes, they opposed it because there was already such a law on the books.

Another says "Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats got caught putting Hollywood above America. On the very day our elected leaders gathered in Washington to deal with the financial crisis, Barack Obama spent just 20 minutes with economic advisers, but hours at a celebrity Hollywood fundraiser. Where are the Democrats' priorities?" Where was McCain? In NYC doing an interview with Couric and then spent the night so he could hang around Bill Clinton’s Environmental meeting the next day.

A third says, "Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats aren't who you think they are. They say they want to keep us safe, but Barack Obama said the threat we face now from terrorism is nowhere near as dire as it was in the end of the Cold War. And Congressional Democrats now want to give civil rights to terrorists." An outright lie.

A fourth says, "You need to know that Barack Obama has worked closely with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, whose organization bombed the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, a judge's home, and killed Americans. And Democrats will enact an extreme leftist agenda if they take control of Washington. Barack Obama and his Democratic allies lack the judgment to lead our country." Another outright lie.

According to, Indiana, PA and Northern Cambria, PA, volunteers fielded complaints of a massive wave of ugly robocalls both paid for by John McCain's campaign and those paid for by third parties. The third party call was interactive, and supposedly from Barack Obama himself (but it isn’t). The call starts out reasonably, and then the fake "Obama" asks what the listener thinks is the most important issue. Whatever the response, fake "Obama" then launches into a profane and crazed tirade using "n***er" and other shock language.

And check out this Virginia GOP mailer:;jsessionid=1E55D115E3595A37B81D03D9A05755D2?diaryId=16675

In Nevada, a four-page campaign flier mailed this week by the state Republican Party also focused on Obama's past relationship with former Weather Underground leader Bill Ayers, calling the college professor a "terrorist, radical, friend of Obama" and featuring several images of Obama and Ayers.

Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, made several appeals to McCain on Friday. Collins faces a tough race for re-election and serves as a co-chairwoman of McCain’s Maine campaign. "These kind of tactics have no place in Maine politics," Collins spokesman Kevin Kelley said. "Senator Collins urges the McCain campaign to stop these calls immediately.

Maybe the Democrats should make robocalls, too, with McCain's own voice saying he voted with President Bush 90% of the time. Another good one would be McCain saying that Obama is a decent man that one need not be afraid to have as president. These would both be absolutely true.

If, through dirty politics and voter suppression*, McCain were to win, this fear and smear tactic doesn't seem to be such a great recipe for the future bipartisanship that he loves to tout.

But maybe Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi will let bygones be bygones. Ya think?

*more about voter suppression later