Sunday, April 27, 2008


“We’ve discovered that Barack Obama was not born in a manger.” (Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader)

“This week in the New Republic we have an article comparing him [Obama) to George McGovern.” (Mike Allen,

John McCain speaking about the anti-Obama ad he asked the NC GOP to withdraw: McCain said the ad was described to him: "I didn't see it, and I hope that I don't see it."

I’m looking forward to writing this week about “The Battle for McCain’s Soul.” I’ve become increasingly convinced that John McCain is not being well-served by some of his advisers. Frankly, they are covered by a veil of illusion about the character of their main opponent, Barack Obama, and the nature of the campaign that will be waged against them.

Some weeks ago, Senator McCain went across the aisle to see his presumptive opponent, Barack Obama. McCain reportedly shook Obama’s hand, smiled broadly, and joshed animatedly with the Illinois Senator.

At the time on the campaign trail Senator Obama was saying that McCain wanted to continue the Iraq War for perhaps another hundred years. In terms of the economy, Obama, the Democratic Party, and “independent” left-wing groups were portraying McCain as the Second Coming of Herbert Hoover. Somehow, back-slapping and breeze-shooting didn’t seem quite the proper reactions on McCain’s part.

Unfortunately, John seems to regard the U.S. Senate as a gentleman’s club, something it hasn’t been for at least a generation. In the old gentleman’s club, of course, it would have been proper to give “the distinguished gentleman from Illinois” the benefit of the doubt. McCain does that when he claims, on the Chris Matthew’s “Hardball” show that, although Obama’s San Francisco remarks on small-town Americans (of which I’m one) were “elitist,” although he refuses to characterize the Senator himself as an “elitist.” Good grief.

Frankly, an elitist is someone who makes elitist comments. Barack Obama and his wife, who wants to become First Lady, regularly make such statements – as with Mrs. Obama’s “America in 2008 is a mean place.” As for Obama, he says he “respects Sen. McCain for his [military] service to his country.” Apparently, he has found no other reason to respect the Senator.

In the case of the North Carolina GOP ad, McCain’s actions were not only wrong but irresponsible. He asked the Party to withdraw an ad that was thoroughly appropriate – and he did so without even bothering to see the commercial he was excoriating.

Who “described” the ad to McCain – and who asked him to condemn it and call for its withdrawal? I assume Campaign Manager Rick Davis was involved in the decision. If that’s the case, then McCain should be asking himself if he wouldn’t be better off without Rick Davis.
One of the “narratives” Democrats are going to spin about McCain is that he engages in temper tantrums. Some of the Arizona Senators former colleagues – one being Pennsylvania’s hapless Rick Santorum – are saying that he’s a bully. Heavy-handed actions such as the one directed against the NC GOP reinforce that image.

One other figure in the McCain Campaign is Patrick Hynes, who sends out daily updates about what McCain is doing – and what’s being done to him. Patrick’s updates regularly complains that the national media is “not doing its job” of looking in depth into the Obama campaign. He also notes that Obama is misrepresenting McCain’s stands on the issues.

With all due respect to Patrick, he’s being naïve. In fact, the national media – particularly the New York Times, Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Time, Newsweek, and NBC – see their “job” as advancing the cause of Barack Obama. Seeking fairness from such sources is like Diogenes looking for an honest man.

Is anyone from the above media outlets going to ask the Senator from Illinois if he shares his wife's distaste for and lack of pride in America? Not in this lifetime. Are they going to ask them if his monolithic support from Black people is skewing the primary results? Surely you jest.

The Senator’s hope for basic fairness in coverage lies with the “new media,” such as this blog. If he looks to today’s yellow journalists for support, then he’s looking in all the wrong places. People like Patrick Hynes have to acknowledge that fact and move on.

Also, asking Obama to be more honest in his descriptions of McCain’s issue positions is a request that’s never going to be fulfilled. Obama and his buddies in look at Senator McCain, an authentic American hero, as a right-wing troglodyte and warmonger. Obama his left-wing supporters are the political heirs of the 1960s radicals who used to chant “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today.”

I don’t believe Senator McCain’s advisors are serving him well. They’re apparently not making clear to him the avalanche of slime Obama and friends are beginning to spew.

Do I know why the Senator and his key aides are taking the positions they are? Of course. The Senator wants to wage an honest and decent effort, one free of “negative” campaigning. They want to return to a kinder, gentler era – perhaps to the 1950s when Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson waged campaigns where there was nary a “discouraging word.”

When a candidate like Obama has major flaws -- in his policies, character, and associations -- it's not inappropriate to point them out. The McCain Campaign shouldn't have to rely almost exclusively on "Saturday Night Live" and "FOX News" to carry the fight against the Democrats. When Obama is behaving in a haughty manner, it's okay to use the "e-word," elitist.

My own advice to Senator McCain is this: understand the nature of the “enemy.” Recognize that when they make false or defamatory statements about you some members of the voting public are going to believe them. Yes, the public generally expresses its disapproval of “negative” campaigning, but in fact negative comments – when they are true – are not gratuitous. If you doubt that, check out how Mrs. Clinton did in Pennsylvania. She "went negative" and won by a huge margin.

In the battle for Senator McCain’s “soul,” it’s essential that the realists win. It’s time to put the padlock on yesteryear’s “Gentleman’s Club.” Otherwise, Obama will end up controlling the campaign agenda – and McCain will end up losing the election.

As usual, comments are always welcome. If any bloggers would like to use all or part of the above material, please be my guests. If you do use it, please give my blog links: or

No comments: