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October 06, 2008

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Remember that in one way, the Keating story still fits in the narrative about McCain being a deregulator and so on.
So in some way it still can fit in their message about the economy without feeling like it is their only message

Presumably what McCain thinks is that his current strategy isn't a winning strategy and that he needs to try something else, anything else. Maybe this sort of desperate flailing will hurt him, but if he's already losing, how much worse off can he be? Losing by 10% isn't worse than losing by 5%.

McCain has no winning strategy left other than to hope Obama makes some awful mistake. More chaos in the campaign likely leads to a higher chance of an Obama mistake so the McCain campaign will go anywhere and everywhere to win. I predict we see ads with Jeremiah Wright in them from the McCain campaign itself, not surrogates. Then when Obama gets 380 EVs look for McCain to try to slip back into the Senate as a respected man of honor.

I'm almost welcoming the sewage that will be spilled by the GOP. I'm hoping it's so foul that it poisons the party so badly that the Specter/Lugar/Snowe Republican ceases to exist in American politics. You can't win anything with the rump of the GOP coalition and the rump is in charge at the moment.

I''m not sure what I think about raising keating. i do think that it should be tied into policy along the lines benjamin suggests.

my other uninformed thought is that they're playing some head games with mccain prior to the debate. they're signaling to them that bringing up ayers, etc. could be met by a counterstrike. maybe thats the point.

Well, Huffington has got the ball rolling. Apparently there is a Keating 5 website and documentary all ready to roll. I knew Axelrod was keeping this in reserve, but damn, they really have been ready to let rip with this.

Like Publius, it also makes me nervous though, I would Obama to be dragged into a smearfest. Hopefully however much they delve into this, as others have said, the focus on the substantive policy implications.

In reality though, I think we're headed into a month of reciprocal smearing. i guess it's better than going down like Kerry, but it's a damn shame, and Obama does have a lot more to lose than McCain in this contest.

Axelrod is teaching McCain a little bit about the Chicago way.

I think the (credible) threat of a devastating counterstrike is the right strategy for Obama. But the important thing is that the Son of Cain is the one starting it. Under no circumstances must the impression be allowed that it is the uppity [n word] that does it.
---
Who will bet against new Obama = Hitler ads appearing before the elction?
(also possible: Obama wants Saddam back)

For the Obama campaign to ignore the guilt-by-association smears would not be evidence of high-minded moral purity. It would show lack of the toughness needed to deal with the thugs of this world. And -- contrary to the imaginary St. John the Maverick image that McCain presents to the public -- he has been campaigning like a thug for quite a while now.

McCain clearly knows that Palin's characterization of Obama's acquaintanceship with the older-and-wiser education-reformer Bill Ayers as "palling around with terrorists" is an outright lie. If Obama doesn't respond forcefully, it will embolden the McCain campaign to make their lies even more outrageous.

There are quite a few McCain associates that could be used to show the emptiness of the guilt-by-association tactic. On October 4th, Media Matters asked "Why is the NY Times ignoring McCain's own 'Bill Ayers'?":

Media Matters Oct-4-2008

They highlight the fact that the Times article quotes Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman denouncing Obama's association with Ayers, but fails to quote Chapman's equally strong denunciation of McCain's "howling hypocrisy on the subject", due to McCain's much stronger association with Watergate felon (and right-wing nutcase) G. Gordon Liddy, including an appearance on Liddy's radio show this spring.

But the Keating story is by far the most effective response, because it raises legitimate questions about McCain's judgment and his policy views on deregulation.

P.S. With all the smears floating around, this feel-good story from Norway via Daily Kos really cheered me up:

Obama Helped Stranded Stranger 20 Years Ago

I (like some commenters on DailyKos) worry that this story of a "random act of kindness" by Obama when he was a struggling law student may turn out to be a fake manufactured by somebody seeking her 15 minutes of fame. However, I hope it proves to be true, and that it spreads around the Internet just as quickly and completely as all the anti-Obama propaganda.

And over at HuffPo, Marc Cooper brings up McCain's friend David Ifshin, who spoke out against the U.S. on Hanoi radio during the war:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marc-cooper/mccains-own-60s-radical-p_b_132032.html

That may not be as damning as encouraging violent protest, but most on the right would call it treason. Ifshin later became more mainstream, and McCain (to his credit, in Cooper's eyes and mine) was able to forge a working friendship with him.

So much depends on how the press handles this--whether they present it as the usual "tit for tat" or whether they take seriously their duty (!)(sic) to actually inform the public of McCain's real antecedents and history. I have to think that the rolling stone article makes it harder to pretend that John McCain isn't a whited sepulchre all the way down to his toes--can I mix that metaphor?--. I agree with Hilzoy that its important,and clear,that this Keating five scandal be tied directly to John McCain as a fradulent, anti regulationist, with corrupt friends. But at the same time I think its important that it not be swallowed up in the press's insane insistence that everything be "balanced."

What I'd really like to see is a timeline of people that McCain has worked with/supported/received money from who have been convicted, or have murdered people vs Obama. It would be hysterically funny since McCain almost by definition has to have met or received money from many more corrupt people than "sat in a room with bill ayres discussing education policy" constitutes.

aimai

So much depends on how the press handles this--whether they present it as the usual "tit for tat" or whether they take seriously their duty (!)(sic) to actually inform the public of McCain's real antecedents and history. I have to think that the rolling stone article makes it harder to pretend that John McCain isn't a whited sepulchre all the way down to his toes--can I mix that metaphor?--. I agree with Hilzoy that its important,and clear,that this Keating five scandal be tied directly to John McCain as a fradulent, anti regulationist, with corrupt friends. But at the same time I think its important that it not be swallowed up in the press's insane insistence that everything be "balanced."

What I'd really like to see is a timeline of people that McCain has worked with/supported/received money from who have been convicted, or have murdered people vs Obama. It would be hysterically funny since McCain almost by definition has to have met or received money from many more corrupt people than "sat in a room with bill ayres discussing education policy" constitutes.

aimai

"If they attempt to make the Keating scandal their main message, I think that would be a mistake."

I'm startled that you remotely think this a possibility. I can't imagine that being a possibility from this campaign.

"wondered why McCain had chosen to raise that line of attack, since he himself was much more vulnerable to it than Obama."

Because McCain is being told by his handlers--Schmidt, Holtz-Eakin, etc.--that Obama is a LIBERAL DEMOCRAT, no better than Kerry or Gore, which to these people means "pussy.

The Steve Schmidts of the world hate liberals so exquisitely that they simply can't process the idea that any of them not named "Clinton" can play this game as well as a Republican.

McCain's campaign has consistently underestimated Obama, and is losing because of it. Like Clinton did in the first part of the year. See where it got her.

I clicked through to the Keating Economics site (link is in the original post).

The full video is not there yet, but the text in the sidebar seems pretty legitimate to me. It mentions McCain's being reprimanded by Congress, but the real focus is on his support of financial deregulation, and the cost of that to the taxpayer.

IMHO, that is a legitimate, and relevant, argument to make, and I don't think it needs to be taken any further than that.

There is an element of "the Chicago Way" to it, but it seems pretty clean to me, and it's a fight that McCain himself is inviting.

I *certainly* hope and expect that Obama will not get into Mrs. McCain's drug issues, or his father-in-laws criminal record. Those things have no relevance to McCain or his record in the Senate.

It's one thing to insist that a candidate be above reproach. If we're going to extend that requirement to their family members, the field is going to get pretty thin, pretty fast.

Leave the families out of it.

Thanks -

Well, just to voice a contrarian view, I think it could be a big mistake for the Obama campaign to get TOO "pre-emptive" with the Keating Five stuff: for three major reasons:

1) It can be spun (and probably will be) as "Obama on the attack" - and puncture, a bit, BHO's "cool" image - which, IMO, has been one of his main selling-points in this campaign.

2) It can also be spun as "Obama taking the low road" - a change-of-route which it would be far better off leaving to the Republicans.

3) It can (and, given the habits of the media, will) lead to a false equivalence being made - in the interests of "balance", of course - between the "smears" against Sen. McCain over the Keating scandals, and the Rezko-Wright-Ayers mud being slung at Sen. Obama.

Of course, they're not quite the same: one is a matter of historical record: the other a much thinner guilt-by-association smear. But, given that this mudfest will most likely be presented to the general public as a tit-for-tat slugout, raising the latter to level of the former is NOT, IMO, a good idea.

This election has the potential to be either a blowout (for Obama), or a close race: risking alienating anyone over campaign tactics is a bad idea.

One might also note that Sarah Palin does not pay her taxes.

I reluctantly agree with Jay C. If Obama plays the Keating card, it will not be seen as a substantive response to a personal smear. It will be seen as a counter-smear. That won't be fair, in the eyes of most of us, but nevertheless that's how the press will cover it and the public will see it: as both sides playing dirty in the last weeks of the campaign.

The issues favor Obama. Now, more than ever, he needs to respond to the Ayers and Wright stuff by keeping the focus on those issues--his criticism of McCain on the economy and health care, and his own plans for reform. This is one of those rare times when the high road is actually the most effective tactic.

Based on what I saw of a Fox News special report last night, the RNC idea is to tie the current crash to the Democrats' love fest with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I have rarely seen such slanted reportage, even from Fox, but they did their best to blame the current crisis on the subprime mortgages that Fannie Mae and Freddie mac financed (going for the Republican trifecta of the poor black people and Democrats used their social agenda to ruin the market and raise our taxes). They also claimed that Dodd and Obama were the top recipients of GSE contributions (no years attached) and that McCain had received only $22,000 from them (again, no years attached).

Expect more efforts to create the impression that the mess we're in is Obama's fault.

Dow below 10,000 !

exciting times!

Uhh, yes... a four-year low on the Dow: and general market declines across the board....

Silver lining: perhaps the bad economic news will pre-empt the potential smear-fest at the next Presidential debate.

Heh: CNBC reports NYSE new highs/lows for the year (a/o 10:30a ET)

1 / 1161

(The only new-high belonging to a Warren Buffett-associated company. Figures.)

To be honest, the thing that has always worried me most is the possibility of Bin Laden or one of his pals releasing a video tape praising Obama. I think this is a distinct possibility, or an actual attack if they can manage it, although probably not inside the United States.

I'm not sure if I have enough faith in the general public to realise that Bin Laden would actually much prefer McCain to win. In fact both of them are in the same situation: on a losing trajectory, and their only option being to try to pull the temple down around everyone and to hope to be the first to climb out of the rubble.

This Ayers stuff, I think it can only cost a few points on the margins.

I also fear the media coverage of this will be full of false balance. But Ben Smith at Politico seems to explicitly reject that idea ("the story of McCain and Keating is not guilt by association; it's guilt by guilt"), going instead with the defense that McCain has repented:

The case for Keating being less relevant is that McCain hardly hides the affair. He called it, in his 2002 autobiography, "the worst mistake of my life." He remade himself as a reformer in reaction to the scandal. McCain's case isn't that you should ignore his sin, or that it isn't a sin; it's that he's expiated it.

"I'm startled that you remotely think this a possibility. I can't imagine that being a possibility from this campaign."

I'm with Gary. Democrats have had a rough couple of presidential elections, so a certain amount of nervousness is understandable. But there is no question that the Obama campaign knows what it's doing.

I still think that the campaign should focus on the issues. If you want to attack McCain, show that clip of him claiming the fundamentals of the economy are sound, since that's when I believe his slide began. If you need one of his sidekick's to attack, use Phil Gramm.

I think the point is that the media covers attacks, look how Palin's terrorist comments dominated the news the past two days. You have to put some blood in the water with Keating 5 in order to get back in the news.

Okay I find this chilling.

Reporters weren't permitted to wander around inside Coachman Park in Clearwater to talk to Palin's audience, the St. Petersburg Times reported.

When reporters tried to leave the designated press area and head to where the crowd was seated, an escort would dart out, confront him or her and say, "Can I help you?" and turn the person around, Times staff writer Eileen Schulte wrote on the paper's Web site. When one reporter asked an escort, who would not give her name, why the press wasn't allowed to mingle, she said that in the past, negative things had been written, Schulte reported.

Apparently McCain is flip-flopping on his Keating Five repentance, so the media may need a new story line for it.

ara, reports like that about the restrictions Republicans routinely place on their candidates' appearances may be "chilling", but they are hardly new. Remember the hoo-hah about President Bush's Social Security-palooza back in '05 (which actually was a carry-over from the 2004 campaign)? Insulating national candidates from the press and/or possibly "hostile" audiences has been SOP for the GOP for quite a while now. The only mystery is why Democrats haven't made more of a talking point out of this control-freakery.

"a four-year low on the Dow: and general market declines across the board"

Not to keep going OT, but I have a sneaking suspicion we were bamboozled on this bailout bill.

Wall Street got theirs -- I'm just not sure about the rest of us.

btfb -- over at Kos, they're highlighting that the problem seems to be companies not taking the deal because it would restrict executive pay. lots of things could be said about that, but I'm not sure "Wall Street got theirs" exactly fits.

Is it legal for the campaigns to restrict the movements of journalists like that?

I hope Obama uses this more as a deterrent than a full-on attack. I agree he can't just say nothing about these ludicrous, desperate (attempted) attacks on him, but if he gets all the way down in the mud with McCain he's gone.

Reckless and out of touch.

Reckless: a long history of opposing regulation that encouraged out-of-control speculation and corporate gambling, and ended up costing the public billions.

Out of touch: From Keating to Charles Black to Rick Davis to Phil Gramm, the company McCain keeps is the fat cats and their lobbyists. He shows no sign of understanding what people out in the real economy are facing.

I would much rather McCain put together a serious argument, and won (or lost) by that serious argument. Even if Obama wins, the amount of bile unleashed in this election will continue to push partisan differences.

And it's getting hard for my heart to keep up with this hail mary passes.

Assuming McCain loses, I hope he looks back and realizes what a mess he's made of his career.

Even if Obama wins, the amount of bile unleashed in this election will continue to push partisan differences.

I don't think this is true. Partisan differences exist because people disagree about stuff. They don't come about because politicians grow petulant when exposed to harsh campaign rhetoric from the other side.

If Obama wins, there will be a bunch of moderate Republicans who will look to improve their public brands by working with him on select issues so they can turn around and put out ads talking about how they "get things done". There will be other Republicans who fight tooth and nail against doing anything, trusting that obstructionism will play best with their voters. The relative size of two groups will depend on many things, but I'm pretty sure that the amount of bile unleashed during the campaign will not be one of them.

Even if Obama wins, the amount of bile unleashed in this election will continue to push partisan differences.

To be honest, I don't see the bile.

The website and video that have been released state that McCain participated in suppressing regulation of Lincoln Savings because it was owned by a political patron of his. For this, he was reprimanded by the Senate.

There are obvious parallels with the current-day financial crisis, and with McCain's proposals for addressing it.

Where is the bile?

Thanks -

Maybe this sort of desperate flailing will hurt him, but if he's already losing, how much worse off can he be? Losing by 10% isn't worse than losing by 5%.

The down-ticket Republican candidates might disagree with that.

Here's hoping Captain Queeg finishes the job Oedipus Tex started -- killing the GOP brand for a generation.

Can't believe that now, after eight years, I am somehow encountering Oedipus Tex for the first time. It's not original with 'now I try to be amused', surely? How has that excellent expression not caught fire?

Finally, something that even surprised an inveterate cynic like myself: The reports that on the campaign trail today, as McCain was firing up the crowd with his "Who is Barack Obama?" spiel, someone yelled out "Terrorist!", and McCain nodded and winked.

I really really hope that McCain didn't accurately hear what was said and was simply making a general nod to the enthusiastic crowd.

But, of course, when you put that together with Palin harping on the Bill Ayers stuff and someone yelling out "Kill him!" (presumably Obama but maybe Ayers), and Palin not stopping and rejecting it....

Well, new lows have been reached.

I'm wondering whether, when this is all over, the other senators will even sit at the lunch table with McCain. I'm told that, late in Joe McCarthy's career, he was surprised that he was shunned by his colleagues, because he thought he was just playing the game the way they all did. But, in fact, even they respected *some* boundaries, and he was too dense and too drunk to realize he had exceeded them.

"Can't believe that now, after eight years, I am somehow encountering Oedipus Tex for the first time. It's not original with 'now I try to be amused', surely? How has that excellent expression not caught fire?"

Posted by: Nell | October 06, 2008 at 10:40 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oedipus_Tex
There you go. Enjoy.

"Finally, something that even surprised an inveterate cynic like myself: The reports that on the campaign trail today, as McCain was firing up the crowd with his "Who is Barack Obama?" spiel, someone yelled out "Terrorist!", and McCain nodded and winked.
I just saw videotape on MSNBC in passing, and I didn't notice McCain winking. Nor did Rachel Maddow make any mention of any such thing.

Do you have a cite that's better than "the reports"?

Is it really responsible to pass on this sort of thing without a reputable cite, and a link to the videotape?

Because if you don't have a pointer to the videotape of McCain winking, it kinda destroys your credibility as someone who can be trusted to pass along the truth, rather than falsehoods.

As it happens, I have the videotape right here.

And your claim seems to be completely false.

I don't see how this sort of thing helps Obama. Rather, I think that when Obama supporters and Democrats pass along falsehoods without bothering to check them out, that they damage the credibility of Democrats.

Maybe you shouldn't do that.

Gary, I've had a crappy internet connection all day and thus couldn't view the video myself. My connection only got better while I was writing that post, so I went out and watched the video and then tried to locate my misleading sources. I was heading back here to say that the video was not as promised, but you beat me to it.

My source for the characterization was Josh Marshall <http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/222324.php>, whom I trust as much as anyone online, but in this case he was overstating the case.

I saw it elsewhere -- I honestly don't remember where -- but the wording was close enough that it now makes me think that it was just somebody parroting Marshall.

I'm pretty sure -- but not absolutely sure -- the guy did yell "Terrorist!", but McCain doesn't "wink and nod" and, in fact, my impression was that McCain may not have specifically heard him and wasn't specifically responding to him.

You are right that I posted prematurely and should have waited until I could view it myself. I agree with your general position on the necessity of not posting bad info, both because it's wrong and because it backfires. But, between my frustration at not being able to watch the video and the general reliability of Marshall's info, I got impatient. Honestly, I usually do a little better than that.

And that was my failed attempt to post the url. Milbank Palin Washington Post searching gets it.

Joe Lieberman somehow believes he's palling around with an earlier version of John McCain:

WALLACE: [...] In April, McCain condemned state Republican parties for linking Obama to his former pastor, Reverend Wright. He said that was over the line. Does he still feel that's off-limits? And will he denounce any efforts by independent groups that bring up Reverend Wright?

LIEBERMAN: Well, you'd have to ask John that. But I can tell you that I was with him when he made that decision. He didn't like that approach. It took a lot of guts to tell the state Republican party not to run that ad.

And in fact, you know, Senator Obama has really been spreading falsehoods about John regularly since then about his tax plans, about his health care plans, which are good for middle-class America.

So as far as I know, Senator McCain feels that same way about bringing up Reverend Wright through his campaign. And that's the kind of line-drawing that I think John McCain is all about.

And I'd like to see some of that from the other side, which I don't think has been fair or balanced in their estimate of John McCain.

But maybe McCain is unaware of what Palin is up to. Also, Lieberman is fine with talking about Ayers, so that's a very strangely drawn line.

"I'm pretty sure -- but not absolutely sure -- the guy did yell 'Terrorist!'"

That's true.

I didn't mean to beat you about the head and shoulders, so apologies if it felt like that. Put it down to a combination of building tension for the next month, a dead kitty, and an intense dislike of people not giving cites for important stuff.

Speaking on behalf of the Eliminating Wrongness On The Internet Committee, we'll let you off with a warning this time.

;-)

Yeah, so Josh Marshall was being grossly irresponsible here. That, or trying to be metaphoric, and appearing to be literal.

Were you referring to this Milbank piece, or this, or another?

For what it's worth, I took it as metaphorical when I read it. When I saw "wink and nod", the first thing that came to mind wasn't that McCain literally winked, but that he gave tacit approval by letting it slide.

Besides, I thought Palin was the one who did all the winking?

Gary, are you serving with any former terrorists on the Eliminating Wrongness On The Internet Committee? I've heard rumors....

The Milbank piece I was referring to was the earlier one -- the second one you linked to. And if I were going back to my transgressing post, I would reverse the order within the parenthetical to "presumably Ayers, but maybe Obama." Not that the sentiment is defensible in either case, but I will say that it gives me the creeps worse if it's about Obama, because I was already worrying for his safety.

I guess I'm a suspect character myself, by the standards of Republican innuendo, since I associated with Ayers online a few years back, serving as host or interlocutor or some such for a q&a/discussion. I recall being deeply irritated by his practice of posting huge blocks of text with no paragraph breaks, but not so irritated as to call for his death.

Also: condolences re the kitty. Pet deaths can be brutal. I'm still recovering after 2 1/2 years.

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