Given the New York Times' front-page article yesterday about ex-radical Weather Underground co-founder William Ayers, the McCain-Palin campaign has begun grasping at straws. In two separate events, Sarah Palin attempted to play up the tenuous relationship by saying that while she and McCain see America as the greatest force in the world, Obama has decided to "pal around" with terrorists who would attack their own country. Of course, had Palin read the entire Times article, she would see how both liberals and conservatives have come out to say that the relationship between Obama and Ayers was nearly non-existent. They worked together on a school board and have seen each other around the neighborhood, and that is essentially the extent of the relationship.
First of all, I thought that this Bill Ayers garbage was buried when George Stephonopolous threw away all of his journalistic integrity and got spoon-fed ridiculous questions from Sean Hannity. Obama responded forecfully, detecting ol' Georgy's career-maligning move. He said, "The notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts forty years ago when I was eight years old somehow reflects on me and my values doesn't make much sense, George." That should have been the beginning and end of it (similar to when the New York Times published that story about McCain banging a lobbyist, McCain quashed it, and that was the end of it).
The timing of the story is interesting, with less than a month to go in the presidential election. The McCain campaign is getting desparate. Their numbers are down and they need something - anything - to either buoy themselves or bring Obama down. They seem to be leaning toward the latter strategy, with an unnamed Republican strategist saying, "We're going to get a little tougher. We've got to question this guy's associations. Very soon. There's no question that we have to change the subject here." The subject that this mystery man is referring to is the economy, which McCain gambled on and lost last week.
What is surprising - at this point it should not be, but my naivete is showing through here - is that McCain would lower himself to this point, being a victim of the same sleazy politics in South Carolina back in 2000. The two events are similar in the amount of truth they hold. Rove and company conducted a push poll during the South Carolina primary in 2000 (after McCain had won New Hampshire) suggesting that McCain had fathered a black child out of wedlock. In reality, McCain and his wife had adopted a dark-skinned girl from Bangledesh named Bridget. So while they had a dark-skinned daughter, she was not fathered out of wedlock as Rove would have liked you to believe. In similar fashion, Obama has been accused by the McCain campaign as having been"palling around" with a self-proclaimed terrorist (let's not forget that with all of the outrage of Ayers' terrorism, he has never been convicted of anything terrorism-related because the FBI could not get their act together). In reality, Obama has met Ayers and served on a board or two with him. Everyone with knowledge of the relationship between the two (read: not McCain, Palin, or any Republican operative claiming the two were close) insist that the two were not considered "close" and that the media and everyone else is making mountains out of mole hills.
The reality of the situation is that the McCain-Palin campaign is desparate. In the immortal words of Police Chief Grady, "Desparation is a stinky cologne." Unfortunately, for the American people, the final stretch of this campaign may very well be characterized by smear tactics and attack politics as opposed to the issues, how to fix the American economy and, in the words of Ron Suskind, how to reassert this nation's moral authority. So while McCain has oft-claimed that he would rather lose an election than lose a war, it seems that he would rather win an election based on false information than lose an election based on the issues and what the American people deserve to hear about. Peace.
Photos - Bill Ayers (www.mugshots.com), Ayers and his wife (www.nytimes.com)