Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 27, 2008

FUNDING THE TROOPS.... The McCain campaign probably has a pretty good reason to feel a little panicky this afternoon. The debate didn't deliver the big win McCain needed, and the campaign is running out of time.

So, McCain, unconcerned about decency or honesty, is doubling down on accusing Barack Obama of not supporting U.S. troops. In a new ad, unveiled this afternoon, the McCain campaign insists, "In the midst of war, Senator Obama voted to cut off funding for our troops." It concludes that Obama supports "risking lives."

McCain desperately has to hope voters are fools. Indeed, this came up last night, and Obama explained reality fairly well:

"Senator McCain opposed funding for troops in legislation that had a timetable, because he didn't believe in a timetable. I opposed funding a mission that had no timetable, and was open-ended, giving a blank check to George Bush. We had a difference on the timetable. We didn't have a difference on whether or not we were going to be funding troops. We had a legitimate difference."

What's really idiotic about McCain's attack is that, by his own logic, McCain voted to cut off funding for our troops in the midst of a war. That's an inescapable conclusion -- McCain supported troop funding when he liked the conditions of the spending bill, and opposed troop funding when he didn't. As it happens, Obama did the exact same thing, only in support of different conditions.

If Obama voted to undermine the troops and "risked lives," then McCain voted to undermine the troops and "risked lives." It's as simple as that.

But McCain is counting on voters not knowing the difference between misleading smears and the facts. It's been the basis for most of the McCain campaign rhetoric all year -- treat voters like idiots, and pray they see the ad without seeing the fact-check of the ad.

Maybe this is why McCain wouldn't look at Obama last night -- McCain is ashamed of the hack he's become.

Steve Benen 4:19 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (21)

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I don't think McCain is ashamed of anything, and the problem is that this crap works. So where's Obama's ad lambasting McCain for the same thing, or for not funding the G.I. Bill? Seriously, they don't have to be as egregious, just effective. All the talk about McCain losing his integrity won't mean squat if we end up having to call him President McCain, at least until President Mrs. Loopner and Todd take over.

Posted by: R. Porrofatto on September 27, 2008 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Nobody will ever have to call McCain President. Rather than snark about him, just enjoy his implosion. It happens practically on a daily basis.

Posted by: Bob M on September 27, 2008 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

I noticed something about the ad that is striking. The picture of Barack has an angry, darker edge to it than most, leading me to believe they are desperately trying to paint him as the angry black man. He didn't take the bait last night - good for him. He was reasoned and calm in the face of sustained attacks by McCain - sometimes calling him "naive" and "dangerous" - something that a white man would have come back forcefully against. Barack can't do that and McCain knows it.

If they can paint him as someone white people should fear - McCain wins. If not, he loses and they know it.

Posted by: Cheryl G on September 27, 2008 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

What do you do when you want to stay above it and your opponent plays to that?

Each and every attack the republicans launch could be simply reversed. It is so so tired.

Posted by: TBone on September 27, 2008 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

But McCain is counting on voters not knowing the difference

More importantaly, he is relying on his "free media" strategy. Whether it works depends largely on CNN and network news. Unfortunately, they seem to be reluctant to criticize him unless they can make a "fair and balanced" false equivalence.

Posted by: Danp on September 27, 2008 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

McCain's repeated campaign lies are bad enough on their own terms. But with this, the most ugly presidential campaign that I can remember in 45 years, he has so polluted our political discourse that I wonder if we will ever recover from it. He loves his country? My ass: he loves himself most of all. I do take satisfaction, though, that many people have come to realize this, included lots of (former) McCain supporters and sympathizers.

Posted by: sjw on September 27, 2008 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with his new ad: 70 million people watched the debate. Everyone knows the truth because Obama laid it out for them. Only those who are committed to voting for McCain will believe the ad. That is wasted ad time.

Posted by: JWK on September 27, 2008 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Obama needs to blast McCain for showing ignorance of the legislative process (as he did so effectively last night) and for insulting the intelligence of American voters.

And Obama needs to go after McCain on the Webb GI Bill and other veterans issues. He has a really bad record (in spite of his professed "love" for vets). Rachel Maddow had a really good segment on this issue on her 1 A.M. (ET) special last night.

By the way, didn't McCain also lie about torture, another of his supposed passions? He claimed to be against it, but I believe he caved to the neo-conservative and Christianist sadists who now make up the Republican Party, in the end going along with an exemption for the CIA.

Challenge him on vets and torture. I think he lied on both issues last night.

Posted by: CMcC on September 27, 2008 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Drunken sociopaths have no shame or guilt or fear of repercussions.

Nothing new here. He's simply playing to what's left of his hideous base. Those convinced will remain so. Mugwumps will either stay home, or vote Obama. No one else is going over, I guarantee you this. And after Palin's debate debut, we'll probably be safely over the top.

Anything coming out of Senator Sewer's mouth is a lie.

Check out this page and then revisit McCain's mannerisms last night. It's damned creepy. AND accurate.

Why McCain Plays Craps Not Poker

Posted by: MissMudd on September 27, 2008 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if this is a new Republican meme, since Jeb Bradley used the same tactic against Carol Shea Porter the other day here in NH, Carol who has worked her butt off for better benefits for the veterans of the war, but voted against some of the funding bills. Jeb supported Bush and the war and that is what he means by supporting the troops I guess, you have to give them a war to fight to support them. This is a replay of the race in 2006 that Carol won with no money and no support from the party, just us grassroots folk.
I hate these people.

Posted by: bloomingpol on September 27, 2008 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

Re McCain and veterans:

McCain Overstretches his Support of Veterans and Troops
by: Brian McGough
Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 00:05:21 AM EDT

In tonight's debate John McCain said "I know the veterans, I know them well, and I know that they know that I'll take care of them, and I have been proud of their support and their recognition of my service to the veterans, and I love them, and I'll take care of them, and they know that I'll take care of them."
Truth be told, this is not the case. McCain has a lackluster voting record when it comes to veterans' issues, and America's veterans know it. The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America have given McCain a grade of "D" when it comes to voting in their interest. The Disabled American Veterans have given McCain a 20 percent rating when it comes to voting in the interest of disabled veterans.


Go read the rest of this damning piece against McCain.

Posted by: Hannah on September 27, 2008 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

as pointed out upthread, mcCain opposed the bipartisan Webb/Warner GI bill. that should be enough by itself

Posted by: benjoya on September 27, 2008 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

bloomingpol, I hate em too. And when we win, I won't can't guarantee I'll be as polite as I have in the past. Being raised by holy rollers, I've still tried to give them what they never gave me: respect. I don't have that now. I will be in their faces.

BTW: Tomorrow is "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" where over 100 pastors will flagrantly defy the tax laws and endorse candidates.

Hope they ship 'em all to Gitmo where they can be baptized by waterboard.

Posted by: MissMudd on September 27, 2008 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe this is why McCain wouldn't look at Obama last night -- McCain is ashamed of the hack he's become.

I assume you're just trying to be snarky, but I would hope anyone reading this wouldn't seriously consider this. If he actually felt shame for his bumbling campaign and hack behavior, he would have had trouble facing his friend Jim Lehrer instead.

McCain's refusal to face Obama has nothing to do with shame - it has to do with fear.

Posted by: Bob Loblaw on September 27, 2008 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

The exact same thing is true with the nonsense about Obama wanting to raise taxes on those making $42,000 or over. If voting to allow the Bush tax cuts expire (in a non-binding resolution) is equivalent to voting to raise taxes, then guess what, voting against the Bush tax cuts in the first place is a vote to raise taxes, too. And McCain voted against the Bush tax cuts.

Obama should throw this crap back in McCain's face if he raises it again. And this opens the door to all the other egregious flip-flops we've seen from "Candidate McCain", too.

Posted by: Bill in Chicago on September 27, 2008 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

Nobody will ever have to call McCain President.

Tell that to Cindy.

Posted by: Cervantes on September 27, 2008 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

Once upon a time, McCain 1.0 would have been disgusted by the campaign strategies being used by the new McCain 3.0. Too bad, I really liked McCain 1.0. But the 3.0 version really sucks. He seems so much like the win-at-all-costs and dont' worry about the country politician that he rails against.

Case+Point: Sarah Palin. It is NOT in the best interest of the country to have someone so unprepared as the vice presidential candidate for someone 72 years old. But it helped him get more votes from the base -- so damn the country, get the votes.

Posted by: stan on September 27, 2008 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

Did anyone else notice the difference when the two candidates came out on stage at the beginning of the debate? Obama smiled at the audience and gave a friendly wave, while McCain walked to the podium with his gaze fixed straight ahead, not even acknowledging that there was anyone else in the room.

And as many have commented, he never looked directly at Obama the whole time they were debating.

Some have suggested this was arrogance or fear. What if he was physically unable to even turn his head? Could he have been strapped down so tight physically and mentally that he just couldn't move?

No way to know for sure, but he scares me as much for his physical incapacity as for his mental vacuity.

Posted by: Curmudgeon on September 27, 2008 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

For many liars, it is easier to lie if they don't have to look into the eyes of people who already know they are lying -- and who would look back, undeceived, with an expression mixing pity and contempt.

This is, I think, one reason among several that accusers are required to testify confronting the accused in open court.

Posted by: Pyre on September 27, 2008 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

It's been the basis for most of the McCain campaign rhetoric all year -- treat voters like idiots, and pray they see the ad without seeing the fact-check of the ad.

Mr. Benen, have you never heard this quote?

"No man ever went broke overestimating the stupidity of the average American."
--P.T. Barnum

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on September 27, 2008 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

How much longer is McCain going to "double down?" It seems lately that McCain story after McCain story is preceded with that very phrase.


After last night, an ad like this from McCain doesn't worry me. The people who NEED to know the truth behind such an ad, already know the truth.

At this stage in the campaign, it will take a MAJOR revelation or gaffe to undermine Obama, not a generic attack ad. As I've said all summer long, after going up against the Clinton political machine, I doubt there is anything of consequence to be learned about Barack Obama.

Further, Obama has proven himself to be thoughtful, careful, cautious and temperate. He is too smart to fall into some major gaffe.

Posted by: TrumanHugh on September 28, 2008 at 1:03 AM | PERMALINK



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