Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 9, 2008

THE COMPANY THEY KEEP.... The Politico's Jonathan Martin noted last night that the McCain campaign planned on "making news" this morning, but wouldn't say what it was. We learned this morning it was a new, detailed economic plan, explaining in depth how McCain believes the U.S. should respond to the ongoing financial crisis over the next 12 months.

No, no, I'm just kidding. The "news" is that the McCain campaign has released a 90-second web ad attacking Obama for knowing Bill Ayers. As Martin noted this morning, "The idea here is to keep Ayers in the mix without spending precious dollars to put real points behind it on TV. Republicans know that cable TV stations will play the spot for free, regardless of it being a web ad."

The web ad comes about 24 hours after top McCain campaign aides seemingly took the Ayers "issue" (I use the word loosely) off the table.

But as long as we're on the subject, McCain's associations continue to be increasingly interesting as well. We've known for a while that McCain has befriended a convicted felon who advised his supporters on how best to shoot federal officials, used the money of a convicted criminal to help buy a house, befriended a radical anti-Catholic televangelist, befriended a radical anti-American televangelist, was a long-time associate of Charles Keating, and hired for his campaign the publisher of a Confederate nostalgia magazine who has described Nelson Mandela as a "terrorist." This week, we also learned about McCain serving on the board of the extremist U.S. Council for World Freedom, where he worked alongside Iran-Contra figures, and a eugenics researcher studying "white superiority."

Last night, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann had a very interesting report on McCain's associations, including the McCain campaign touting an endorsement from Leonore Annenberg, who helped created the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, where, wouldn't you know it, Obama and Ayers met. Olbermann also noted McCain having hooked up with a right-wing hate group called the Oregon Citizens' Alliance, despite warnings McCain received from then-Sen. Mark Hatfield, an Oregon Republican, about the radical nature of the organization.

While hanging out with the group, McCain heard speakers praise -- you guessed it -- domestic terrorists. McCain could have gotten up and left, but didn't.

Steve Benen 9:25 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (41)

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Yeah, I noticed this morning at the gym that Fox Not-Necessarily-the-News is still harping on the "big" Ayers story. (The gym is the only place I am exposed to Fox, as there are big TV's all over the place with no way to change channels.) I thought, "Didn't McCain say yesterday they were going to lay off the Ayers story?"

Stay classy, McCaininites, stay classy.

Posted by: Charity on October 9, 2008 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure what's more troubling, that Team McCain is so determined to focus on Ayers for as long as they can, or that the media is happy to indulge them their terrorist fantasies.

Posted by: Jake on October 9, 2008 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

With all the problems Americans are confronting Ayers is going no where.

When will the Republicans learn the politics of personal destruction only work in election cycles when people are generally content? Very few listen to Limbaugh when a hurricane is roaring over their house. When times are tough people want real leadership not silliness.

Posted by: Ron Byers on October 9, 2008 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

This IS a news item.
Cable should make a story of it.

"Today, the McCain campaign trotted out the weary old horse that is the William Ayers canard on more time before they shoot it and make it into glue. The news, having become no fresher and containing no revelations hit the airwaves with a soft sickening thud."

"In sports,....

If TV gives non-news the treatment it deserves, maybe real news might be offered as a replacement?

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on October 9, 2008 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

Every second McCain's campaign spends talking about Ayers is another opportunity lost to talk about the economy. I'm just surprised that McCain is overlooking so many other Sixties radicals. There's bound to still be some mileage in Huey Newton or Bobby Seale after all they were BLACK Panthers.

Posted by: Dennis - SGMM on October 9, 2008 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, I think you have this connection factually wrong. The 'surprise' this morning wasn't the economic plan, it was a new Ayers web spot, which they hope will do something or other that all the previous Ayers talk hasn't done.

On the economic thing, Hilzoy still gets major cred for being the only blogger on debate night to catch McCain's new theme: "Vote For Me And I Will Buy Your House."

I think people thought I was joking when I wrote that before. I'm not joking, and neither is McCain. If you can't drive down the other candidate's negatives, the only chance you have is a bribe. This is a bribe. And it should tell you an awful lot about what John McCain really thinks about you, his job, lobbyists, and being a United States Senator.

Posted by: The Phantom on October 9, 2008 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

Last night's Mini-report had a link to the Wall Street Jounal blog for details of McCain's mortgage plan. If you read the comments, you quickly realize why McCain wants to change the subject back to Ayers. This absurd mortgage plan could well be to McCain, what the FISA renewal was to Obama. Let's just say nobody can both understand it and like it.

Posted by: Danp on October 9, 2008 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

The Ayers stuff is obviously just the tip of the iceberg.

Choosing Sarah was about white supremacy, she even called eskimos "ice arabs."

Sarah's husband is an AIP'r, which brings up shades of Confederacy.

The rabidity which is taking hold at John and Sarah's "revival-type" rallies and events is not a passing phase. The screams of terrorist, traitor, and worse, will grow louder.

Got it?

This election is now about black and white. It doesn't get any simpler.

God help us.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on October 9, 2008 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

This morning on Fox, they were asking Obama's spokesperson why Obama wouldn't reveal the exact date and time he first learned about Ayers terrostic background.

I loved it when Obama's spokes person shot back "listen to yourself!"
as if anyone makes a note of date and time when they learn some piece of information about a person.
It was funny how all three of the fox commentators got real quiet as they tried to regroup. It was obvious they hadn't thought about how quickly that talking point would unravel.

Posted by: GeorgiaGirl on October 9, 2008 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

So where is Rick Davis?

Posted by: tomj on October 9, 2008 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

A "web ad" only?

Jeeze. John McCain is too much of a pussy to say it to Obama's face, and too cheap to spend money to air this ignorant piece of shit.

That's what's left of the GOP.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on October 9, 2008 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

Obama & Ayers, ok then how about McCain & G. Gordon Libby? Ayers was found not guilty, Libby was found GUILTY.

Posted by: JC Hammer on October 9, 2008 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

Libby was found GUILTY. - JC Hammer

And unlike Libby, Ayers didn't suggest shooting ATF officers in the head.

Posted by: Danp on October 9, 2008 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, but the McShame plane SMELLS BETTER and his aides suck up to the media! SURPRISE! This is going to be a long 26/7? days....and we should all be hoping/praying/crossing fingers that Obama and his family remain SAFE...because the loons are sensing a loss and they don't handle losing well!

Posted by: Dancer on October 9, 2008 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, this is no different than McCain's "suspending" his campaign in order to engage in a huge campaign stunt.

"You know William Ayres? The guy Obama's friends with? The terrorist America-hater that Obama is friends with? Right. Just wanted you all to know that I will not be talking about his long-standing ties between Obama and Ayers. I certainly won't be talking about how this proves that Obama is also an America-hating terrorist. Just so we're clear, it is William Ayres, domestic terrorist and friend of Obama's, that I won't be talking about."

Seriously. Only retards fall for this stuff.

Posted by: DH Walker on October 9, 2008 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

But if Leonore Annenberg endorsed McCain... and Annenberg created that hotbed of "terrorist activity" also known as the Chicago Annenberg Challenge... then McCain is himself associated with terrorists. Treasonous bastard!

Posted by: josef on October 9, 2008 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

The only people falling for this shit are the people who were going to vote for McCain anyway. It's not making him any converts.

Posted by: CN on October 9, 2008 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

John McCain is a war hero. Nobody seriously believes he would consort with America's enemies.

With Barack Hussein Obama, and admitted community organizer, it is another story.

Posted by: Al on October 9, 2008 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

CN, you're most likely right but the goal at this point is to get it close enough to steal. NPR had a report on Indiana and NC and Obama is killing McCain on the ground and through the airwaves outspending him 5 to on and with offices at a 5 to 1 clip as well (I think they said 50 offices to McCain's 10).
So, part of this might just be a lack of resources from McCain. He has no money, can't win on issues, and is defending states he thought would be locked up. It's deseration time.

Posted by: grinning cat on October 9, 2008 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

There is a simple response I hope that Obama's team comes up with.

Apparently anyone who worked on improving education in Chicago knew Ayers in the 1990s. He was a big part of that effort. Republicans and Democrats alike knew him, worked with him on charities etc. There have been at least two Republicans who have come out and said as much.

Get a couple of those to agree to speak in a TV ad explaining who Ayers is these days and showing, in pictures, all the people who worked on boards with him.

Then, end the ad saying "Why is John McCain spending millions of campaign dollars and so much of his campaign time on such a small issue?"

Posted by: Anonny on October 9, 2008 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

Jeabus, the OCA? The Oregon Citizen's Alliance made it their business for the better part of a decade to try to legislate discrimination against gays and lesbians, including legally equating homosexuality to bestiality. They had at least one anti-gay measure on our ballots every two years. Stuff like forbidding sex-ed teachers to describe homosexuality in positive or even neutral terms, only negative. Silly, intrusive, offensive stuff to anyone not attuned to a radical religious right agenda. Their one victory was a measure that repealed an executive order against orientation discrimination.

Fortunately, they went into decline. It took the conviction of one of their top employees to do it - he beat up a woman, a gay activist who showed up to one of their public meetings. Both he and the organization were held responsible for the assault.

Apparently, McCain spoke at a luncheon for them in 1993. Frankly, it's not unlike speaking at a luncheon for the KKK. I know that sounds exaggerated, but every time the OCA got one of their stupid measures on the ballot, there was an uptick in assaults and harassment of gays/lesbians. By all rights, this alone should cost him some of the libertarian vote. And this was when he was supposed to be a "maverick." Disgusting.

Posted by: Stacy6 on October 9, 2008 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

Obama needs to point out all the questionable associations of McShames and McPains - not inciting any violence or trashy talk just note the association to questionable people. There is a FAR larger list that the Repugs have than Obama. Wether Obama wants to or not he need to fight back stronger than he has. The stupid media pick up on this trash and run with it to take the focus off the issues and details. That is the true Repugs agenda.

Posted by: wom45 on October 9, 2008 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Will someone (Keith, Rachel) PLEASE put Ayers himself on tv so he can explain who he was and has become, how -- while not regretting his opposition to the war -- he regrets his tactics, and how little contact he actually has had with Obama. (And, btw, to show he doesn't have fangs or horns and doesn't wear a kafiyah (sp?).)

I also like Obama's 'he didn't have the courage to ask me to myself.'

One other thing. I'm sure it is available, but does anyone have a list of the other Board Members of the Annenberg Challenge.

It might also be useful to point out that Annenberg was Nixon's Ambassador to England, and that the Annenberg Foundation also funded some of the best tv on the subject of the Constitution, The Constitution:That Delicate Balance as well as, to mention two personal favorites, Ethics in America I & II and The Western Tradition. The whole list is at the Wikipedia entry under the Annenberg Foundation, and I'd guess everybody has at least one he watched and remembers fondly.

I keep adding things as I do more research. There is a first-rate Wikipedia article on the 'Chicago Annenberg challenge' listing all the people involved -- including one of the three main advisors, a former Deputy Secretary of Education under GHWBush. And unlike the myth that Obama was selected through Ayers' Influence, he was suggested by Deborah Leff -- head of America's Second Harvest, and former producer for ABC News as well as more recently head of the JFK Presidential Library.

And one last point. It is frequently said that Ayers and Obama were board members together. In fact, while Obama was always a board member, Ayers never was. He was one of 23 members of the Chicago School Reform Collaborative that the Challenge founded.

Again, read the piece, and any other serious articles on the Challenge would be welcomed.

Posted by: Prup (aka Jim Benton) on October 9, 2008 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

The O.C.A. - It took the conviction of one of their top employees to (bring them down a notch) - he beat up a woman, a gay activist who showed up to one of their public meetings. Both he and the organization were held responsible for the assault.

"I'm Con McCain and I approve of organizations that beat up women." (Misogynist? Who me? My first wife was a dyke when I cheated on her with Cindy, but Cindy is, you know, a c@nt who I think should strip and shove bananas down her throat in front of 5,000 screaming, drunk bikers! But she's filthy rich, so what can I do? The company you keep and the judgment you show is important.)

Posted by: In what respect, Charlie? on October 9, 2008 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with all of the Obama comments, but there is one problem: the name of the convicted felon is G.Gordon LIDDY. Libby was also found guilty of his crime, but it was a different crime.

Posted by: Michael on October 9, 2008 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

Please people do not reduce yourself to the level of John S McCain and his campaign. He has an excuse: he is running for president of the United States.

Posted by: wmmbb on October 9, 2008 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

Wasn't Ayers named Citizen of the Year by Chicago for his efforts?

A very toxic influence, indeed......

(And, oh year, some of Ayers' and Obama's fellow directors on the Woods Fund includes a President of the local Presbyterean seminary, a former United Way exec and a trustee of the Chicago Symphony/Orrin Hatch donor).

Posted by: gwangung on October 9, 2008 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

Is the Ayers talk resonating with the public? I'm 41 years old and I couldn't care less about a '60's radical. I am not surprised that McCain is getting no traction with this.

Posted by: Steve on October 9, 2008 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

Please, please, please, continue to fight back on the Ayers issue. Talk about McCain's associates. Send out Olberman and Matthews to try and dig up some less than appealing associates of McCain's.

Please continue to fight on this. That will give McCain the election.

Posted by: John Hansen on October 9, 2008 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

Please continue to fight on this. That will give McCain the election.

How do you figure that, Hansen? Do amuse us.

Posted by: Gregory on October 9, 2008 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

Is the Ayers talk resonating with the public? I'm 61 years old and I am amazed that anyone could vote for "someone" with those "types" of friends . .

I am not surprised that the highly touted MSM is dragging it's feet in bringing this to the public eye. Can you say "in the tank"?

Posted by: iben hakenluggis on October 9, 2008 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Flipping the question, why do you, Mr. Benen, care so much about Senator McCain's association and so little about Senator Obama's? The same question could be raised with Keith Olbermann, Joe Klein and so many others who are in the tank for Obama. To the core point, why is it so difficult for so many of you in the media to be an honest, objective analyst instead of an open, cheerleading advocate?

Posted by: Michael on October 9, 2008 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Michael: Steve Benen is only bringing up McCain's associations to show what an obviously ridiculous and thinly veiled stunt issue the Obama/Ayers connection is. If Palin/McCain hadn't spent so much effort ignoring the economy and stuff while banging this pathetic drum of a non-issue, then none of us would give two shits and a Moon Pie about McCain's associations.

Say, for instance, that I tell everyone that "Michael has an IQ of 45!" What's the first thing you'd do?

[I'll give you a minute.]

[Have an answer yet?]

Right! You'd start trying to find out what my IQ is. And, if my IQ was anywhere near yours [say 44], you'd probably use that information to defend yourself, wouldn't you?

The point is, none of these associations are a big deal. In fact, in a world where the global economy is in the shitter, past associations like these are a very small deal indeed.

Posted by: chrenson on October 9, 2008 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Flipping the question, why do you, Mr. Benen, care so much about Senator McCain's association and so little about Senator Obama's?

Because by condoning these baseless guilt-by-association attacks on Obama, McCain invites scrutiny under the same standard. Duh.

The same question could be raised with Keith Olbermann, Joe Klein and so many others who are in the tank for Obama.

You do realize that it wasn't so long ago Klein essentially admitted to having been in the tank for McCain until his -- you know, the candidate you presumably support -- behavior became so egregiously bad so as to shatter McCain's decades-long branding image?

To the core point, why is it so difficult for so many of you in the media to be an honest, objective analyst instead of an open, cheerleading advocate?

I know the fact that reality has a liberal bias really gets your knickers in a twist, but Steve doesn't pretend to be an "objective analyst"; he is in fact open about his advocacy.

As for honesty, if you can point to something Steve has written that is dishonest, do point it out. He's been bringing the noise about the dishonesty of McCain / Palin, after all; remarkably, their dishonesty does not prevent you from advocating on their behalf. But if not, you can take your baseless accusations and concern trolling and shove them.


Posted by: Gregory on October 9, 2008 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory: Yours is precisely the subject matter upon which my discourse is based!

[That's what I'm talking about!] Nicely put!

Posted by: chrenson on October 9, 2008 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Is the Ayers talk resonating with the public? I'm 61 years old and I am amazed that anyone could vote for "someone" with those "types" of friends . . .

McCain's friends advocated the murder of US law enforcement officers and broke the law to fund terrorists in South America.

But I guess that if they're "your" types of friends, you don't care.

And though I hate to bring age into this, it's true that no one under age 50 really cares who was doing what in the 1960s. That was almost 40 years ago. I know it makes you Baby Boomers feel better to look back on your youth and continue to believe that those events were The Most Important Ever In the History of the World, but they weren't. Sorry. No one cares what Ayers did 40 years ago anymore. The Sixties are over.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on October 9, 2008 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

no one under age 50 really cares who was doing what in the 1960s.

I disagree. I was born in the 1960s, so it mattered to me. ;-)

Posted by: Gregory on October 9, 2008 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Don't forget this significant point: The Nicaraguan CONTRAS were terrorists, attacking civilians and civilian infrastructure AT THE TIME McCain SUPPORTED them. COntrast that with Obama being friendly with someone involved in terrorism 30 years earlier, when Obama was a kid. NO COMPARISON.

Posted by: Brian on October 9, 2008 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

I'm afraid for Obama's safety now. I just heard a recording from someone asking McCain supporters at a McCain rally in Ohio if they thought Obama wa a terrorists. "He's a one man terrorist cell" said one man. "He's definitely got the connections" said another lady with her friend adding, "Oh, I think he is, definitely". Another "From the time he was 1-6yrs old he was being trained as a Muslim"..another "Well, he's got the name of a terrorist...what did you expect?".

It appears that the McCain/Palin experience attracts the sickest of our society and the most uninformed who desperately want to believe that the "other" must be evil. They seem to revel in ignorance, fear and hate. Palin has just been a rabble rouser looking for the mob mentality to incite. How anyone could respect this trash is beyond me. McCain has sold his soul to ruthless ambition and he was such a small shallow man to begin with. They are both phonies and hypocrites and are dangerous to society. They have become the very scum they think they mock.

It's not "they both do it" this time. It's McCain/Palin inciting violence based on lies for the sole purpose of gaining political power even to the point of reckless behavior that could get people hurt or killed. Their campaign supporters are vulgar bigots who haven't a clue about good government and are more in line with lynch mob mentality. McCain is now a shame and Palin is just disgusting.

Posted by: bjobotts on October 9, 2008 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

Ha - That Shannon babe was from my home town, and my son actually dated her daughter.

Posted by: Linda in Oregon on October 9, 2008 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

Some thoughtful Republicans need to tell McCain and Palin to knock this off now! A party that has nominated a candidate that accuses her opponent of "palling around with a domestic terrorist" should be sanctioned unless she is willing to provide solid evidence of it.

There are two candidates running for President. One party will win. If McCain continues down this course, what is the possibility that our country will be able to come back together again?

Posted by: Brian Smith on October 9, 2008 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK



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