October 11, 2008

McCain Offense Offensive

After the American Century

In the last two weeks the McCain campaign has become ever more offensive, in both meanings of the term. They are verbally on the offensive because they are losing in the polls, and instead of talking about the issues, they are demeaning themselves by stooping to the lowest form of gutter politics. Hardly a day goes by without McCain or one of his surrogates insinuating or even directly stating that Barack Obama is consorting with terrorists or is a covert terrorist or has a suspicious sounding name, and so forth.

The only shred of evidence they have is that, what a surprise, Obama in the course of serving on many committees and organizations, has just once been on a board with someone that was a student radical in the 1960s. Lest we forget, Obama himself was a child in the 1960s, and had nothing to do with the movements of those years. It is true for any politician that he meets thousands of people, and can always been accused of sharing the views of those whom he has been seen with or shaking hands with.

But to call Obama a terrorist because he was in the same room with a college professor with a radical past is no more credible than claiming that McCain is a communist because he spent time in a communist prison camp and was brain-washed there. You do not see the Obama camp making that sort of claim. Nor have the Democrats raked through the thousands of contacts McCain has had over the years to find "proof" that because he was in the same room with someone he therefore shares their political views.

This sort of guilt-by-association can only remind Americans of the excesses of Joe McCarthy. It is intended to distract attention from the faltering McCain campaign, but it undermines the "straight-talk express." The worst excesses are now at the Palin rallies where she has been whipping crowds into a frenzy of anger and hate. Meanwhile, she refuses to testify in the investigation into her apparent abuse of power as governor. Both in her rhetoric and in her behavior, she demeans the GOP, which may need eight years to recover from such tactics.

The Republicans seem almost certain to lose this election, but they could do so with dignity and honor in tact, ready to fight another day. However, it appears that McCain has decided he would rather befoul his formerly good name in a desperate attempt to smear his opponent, rather than appeal to the electorate on the basis of policies and principles.His stump speeches reportedly are now perfunctory and brief on the issues, before turning to a villification of his opponent. The campaign might have been a dignified discussion of the issues. Instead, the Republicans are taking the low road.