Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

October 16, 2008

THE LAST REFUGE OF A SCOUNDREL.... When McCain/Palin offer sleazy attacks in a speech, it's easy to hold them accountable. When they offer scurrilous lies in a television ad, it's almost as easy, especially with the whole "approve this message" line and media scrutiny of campaign advertising.

But McCain, Palin, and the Republican Smear Machine save some of their most offensive work for automated robocalls, which fly just below the radar screen. It's obviously abject cowardice, but decency and honor are the last things McCain is worried about now.

The first round of calls was in line with run-of-the-mill Republican nonsense.

The robocalls [in North Carolina, Missouri, Colorado, and Wisconsin] hit Obama for attending a celebrity fundraiser in Hollywood while efforts to address the financial crisis got underway in Washington.

A second round of robocalls, also from McCain and the RNC, hits Obama as a tax-hiker, and stops just short of criticizing the big bailout package that McCain has repeatedly taken credit for helping get passed.

The second round cranked up the sleaze a bit.

"Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats aren't who you think they are," the call says. "They say they want to keep us safe, but Barack Obama said the threat we face now from terrorism is nowhere near as dire as it was in the end of the Cold War. And Congressional Democrats now want to give civil rights to terrorists."

And the third round, which is reaching households in Wisconsin, New Mexico, Northern Virginia, Maine, Florida, Missouri, and North Carolina, says a lot more about Republicans than it does Obama.

"You need to know that Barack Obama has worked closely with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, whose organization bombed the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, a judge's home, and killed Americans. And Democrats will enact an extreme leftist agenda if they take control of Washington. Barack Obama and his Democratic allies lack the judgment to lead our country."

This isn't just some media stunt, intended to generate free media. It's actually the opposite -- McCain and the RNC are investing heavily in these disgusting calls, hoping to avoid the kind of scrutiny that comes with television ads.

Honestly, what would the Republican Party be without hate, fear, and ignorance? And when will party members with honor stand up and say that McCain and the RNC don't speak for them?

Steve Benen 3:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (50)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

I got my second robocall today this week from the MaGoo campaign. I am certainly not an R or even an independent here in WI.

After the first call, I thought they had a poorly constructed list and were making calls to the wrong targets. But after the second call, I now see that they are really seeking to discourage my support of Barack.

Yes, I am the target but I am not biting.

Oh, and the calls are disgusting.

Posted by: 4sooth on October 16, 2008 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

I hope someday Alabama will become a battleground state so we can get all of the sleazy ads and calls;>

Posted by: martin on October 16, 2008 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

I've decided there are NO Republicans with "honor".

What a quaint image: a Republican With Honor.

Haven't existed since maybe Eisenhower.

Posted by: phoebes in santa fe on October 16, 2008 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

Why do you think I've been calling them repugnacans?

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on October 16, 2008 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

"You need to know that Barack Obama has worked closely with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, whose organization bombed the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, a judge's home, and killed Americans."

But Obama once called McCain erratic, so there is a complete equivalence.

Posted by: AJB on October 16, 2008 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

He/She/They ARE NOT ONE OF US--Therefore, they are dangerous..

It's really surreal-all the things you heard about or read about from your parents, your grandparents, history books, Social-Psych and History classes..

All the things you thought we'd never do again.

This is what happens when the desire to be right and feel comfortable (even if it's a cynical righteousness) meets head on with the desire for true change and hope and intelligent vision.

Posted by: on October 16, 2008 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, I see that you are following the stories that Josh Marshall at TalkingPointsMemo.com is covering.

While you are at it, I would commend to your attention the news that the FBI is opening an investigation into whether ACORN "helped foster voter registration fraud around the nation before the presidential election" and whether there is "any evidence of a coordinated national scam."

This is nothing less than an outright preemptive assault on the election process by the Cheney-Bush Justice Department -- the same people who fired Republican US attorneys who refused to pursue bogus "voter fraud" cases.

The Republican Party is going all out to disenfranchise and intimidate voters, and then launch bogus "voter fraud" court cases to try to overturn close Obama victories in swing states. They are going to do whatever they can, whatever it takes, to steal this election with disenfranchisement, intimidation and fraud that will dwarf the theft of the 2000 and 2004 elections.

And that's a much more important story than these stupid "robo-calls" that aren't going to influence anybody who isn't already a brain-dead dittohead, no matter how offensive the calls may be.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on October 16, 2008 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

We've gotten several of these calls over the past two weeks as well (Durham, NC). We thought it was funny since we're are registered Democrats and the McCain campaign just got a really bad list of people to call. Its really a waste of money in our eyes.

Like the earlier commenter, it also strengthens our vote for Obama.

Posted by: BullCity on October 16, 2008 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Steve asks: "...when will party members with honor stand up and say that McCain and the RNC don't speak for them?"

Hopefully on November 4th, as scheduled.

Posted by: Westside Buppie on October 16, 2008 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

Nora O'Donnell was showing one of those EKG charts a few minutes ago, where McCain was talking about Ayers and Acorn. Even the Republican line was sinking. Of course, Nora didn't notice it, but it was well below the halfway line. Wouldn't it be nice if the Republicans took theiir cable news stooges with them when they fll into oblivion?

Posted by: Danp on October 16, 2008 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

The honorable republicans, the Warren Rudmans, Howard Bakers et al have pretty much gotten out of the elective office business. All that's left are the scum.

Posted by: jayackroyd on October 16, 2008 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Are the TV talking heads covering this story, or is it still ACORN! Joe the Plumber! VOTER FRAUD! all the livelong day.

Posted by: Lucy on October 16, 2008 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

in a very weird and doesn't-justify-this-non-sense-at-all kind of way, it's comforting to know that they could not dig up anything on obama. i was constantly nervous during the primaries about what was coming. if at this late date and given the polls/projected electoral map, ayers, acorn and robo-calls is all they've got, we're doing *real good*. furthermore, it's not working. there fav/unfav's and poll numbers just get worse. i believe that there is some serious neo-con style digging in going on and it's FINALLY not working with the american people.

Posted by: forthebirds on October 16, 2008 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Try as I might, I do not see anything objectively "false" in the information that is highlighted. So what exactly is your problem with these robocalls?

Those who are supporting the One will simply hang up. Those who are not supporting the One already know these things. And those who haven't made up their minds by now are too stupid to worry about since they will probably be unable to find their way to polls come Election Day when they get distracted by whatever is on Oprah or Dr. Phil.

Posted by: Chicounsel on October 16, 2008 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

O.K lets say the American electorate gives AIG a good deal on this loan, better yet it is amortized over 30 years. That’s plenty of time to pay back the loan. Ladies and gentlemen of America we are due back a very tidy some. You can use any calculator on Google to get this result for a thirty year loan. Actually it is a very fair deal considers it is America’s tax money in return for investment with George Bush’s endorsement along with the Republican Parties guaranteed repayment policy. Very funny huh.

Result:
Monthly payment: 30 Years
Interest rate: 5.750%
Loan amount $ 120,000,000,000.00 remember that is one hundred and twenty billion on loan but we can give them time.

$ 700,287,427.73 a month due the American public. Not too bad that’s if this AIG ponies up with the monthly payment.

Think that will happen, ask them December first payment due...


Posted by: Megalomania on October 16, 2008 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

I am a 63-year-old lifelong Republican who will be voting for Barack Obama (no, I didn't vote for Bush, either); in fact, I may just pull the Damocratic straight-ticket lever. I think I am going to change my registration after this election -- the fun of being able to vote against people in the primaries just doesn't outweigh the embarassment, anger, and frustration I feel when I see what has become of the party. My 87-year -old lifelong Republican mother will also vote for Obama and other Democrats for the same reasons. Oh, and I repudiate McCain and everything all this sleazy campaigning is.

Posted by: Greg Worley on October 16, 2008 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

McCain and Palin have openned that door of moral depravity, and now know not how to close it, nor have any interest for the sake of the nation to close it! As he and his mistress to mayhem have been wont to do, they are codifying their rhetoric to hit their base of this race with race-based divisive imagry, twisting reality at every moment honorable people like Rep. Lewis call them on it.

The depths to which the McCain campaign, including personally McCain and Palin, have been so willing to go are now, I presume, unfathomable even to their own sophist ways of life.

Posted by: kevo on October 16, 2008 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

I just received a call that said that my hero, straight-talking John McCain, was a mean and nasty liar, and it made me cry so much that my mom is going to the next McCain/Palin rally to create a media firestorm against this kind of negative campaigning.

Posted by: Chris Duren on October 16, 2008 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

John McCain's campaign has become a shande.

He is a hollow shell of the maverick he once was.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on October 16, 2008 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK


I gotta wonder, just how effective are these robocalls? I've never been on the receiving end of one, but I'd imagine they're just as annoying as the robocalls from the phone company telling me that I can get better deals on my (non-existent) long distance calls.

People get REAL PISSED at telemarketers (I should know, I spent three weeks as one in University, just walked out one day :)...I suspect these kinds of calls would engender the same response.

Posted by: neilt on October 16, 2008 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

I got one of those robocalls today in Colorado, saying that if Obama and Udall are elected they will take away the secret ballot in union elections. That must be a lie. No American would favor taking away the secret ballot. That sounds like something only Communists would do. Democrats would never do anything to rob workers of their rights! Indeed, the AFL-CIO fought for the secret ballot in union elections in eastern Europe during the years of Soviet domination. Pass the word, Democrats are being smeared with this kind of attack!

Posted by: df on October 16, 2008 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

Just got one in Indiana. "You really need to know that Barack Obama ... Terrorist ... Ayres" I didn't listen long enough, but started telling the poor girl she really needed to get a life. Mine was an actual person, or the recorded her messing up in the beginning as she made a mistake in her script confusing Calling on behalf of from John McCain to Barack Obama.

Now I'm off to the Indiana Atty General site to see if that violated the do not call list.

Posted by: paula on October 16, 2008 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

I just got the 3rd one here in Colorado about 30 minutes ago.
You stay classy, GOP.

Posted by: Will on October 16, 2008 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

I gotta wonder, just how effective are these robocalls?

Robocalls sunk McCain in the SC primary in 2000; the beginning of the end of his first run for the presidency.

Posted by: Lucy on October 16, 2008 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Try as I might, I do not see anything objectively "false" in the information that is highlighted

Why, I'm shocked Chico, shocked! You've been rather blind to objectivity for some time now. Well for starters, the Democrats will not enact an "extreme leftist agenda" except in fevered rightwing minds like yours where centrist policies are considered "extreme leftist agendas".

Posted by: ckelly on October 16, 2008 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Wait, those might have been push polls, not robocalls.

I should've looked it up.

Posted by: Lucy on October 16, 2008 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

Yea Chicon that's the ticket the sky is green. Oh the moon is made of Blue Cheese, so very tasty.
Do the words are you fuckin for real hold any meaning for you.
Your moron republican demigogues have done everything they possibly could to bring us back to the seventeenth century and most of us don't like it.
If you should through some miracle of nature try to start to make the least little bit of sense in your comments I'm certain that peeople will give you afair hearing. But just being sheeplike and dogmatic doesn't get it skeezix.

Posted by: Gandalf on October 16, 2008 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

But kevo, don't ya know, it's Obama's fault! If only he would've done those darn townhall meetings....

Posted by: whichwitch on October 16, 2008 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK
Try as I might, I do not see anything objectively "false" in the information that is highlighted.

This is objectively false: "Barack Obama said the threat we face now from terrorism is nowhere near as dire as it was in the end of the Cold War."

Barack Obama never said that the threat we face now from terrorism is nowhere near as dire as it [the threat faced from terrorism] was in the end of the Cold War.

Barack Obama has said that the threat we face nowfrom nations like Iran and North Korea, and from groups like al-Qaeda, is nowhere near the threat we faced from the Soviet Union and its allies and proxies during the Cold War, but that's a very different comparison: one of the overall threat from one set of actors at one time vs. a different set of actors at a different time, not a comparison specifically of the threat of terrorism at two different times.

Posted by: cmdicely on October 16, 2008 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

I feel so neglected here in Maryland.

Posted by: beep52 on October 16, 2008 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

friend got #3 & she almost intro'd Obama in La Crosse so it is shotgun approach

Posted by: Michael7843853 on October 16, 2008 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

Heh, I got a robocall equating Obama with terrorists just as I was reading this.

If they're resorting to this in one of the reddest areas of Missouri they must really be desparate.

Posted by: marcus alrealius alrightus on October 16, 2008 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

I received the "terrorist" call here in Minnesota. Now I know how McCain felt when the "illegitimate baby" smear calls destroyed his campaign in 2000. To hear it on my phone felt like I had been assaulted. America is too smart in 2008 to fall for that and Mccain is too pathetic to win this election.

Posted by: tiredofgreed on October 16, 2008 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

Come on over to Virginia, beep52. We'll let you in on some of the grief...

BTW, McCain/Palin are coming to my community in Northern Virginia on Saturday. Even I, a flaming liberal, got an invitation. Can't make it, though...

Posted by: on October 16, 2008 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

On a brighter note, I've seen Obama ads flooding the airwaves in the Dallas area and not a McCain ad in sight. Now, this is Texas so it will stay red but still an interesting observation. Obama has enough funds to keep ads on in Texas. Never saw ads for Kerry in 2004 (or Bush)

Posted by: ckelly on October 16, 2008 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

I, too, got a call as I was reading this post -- the third, "domestic terrorist" one. It sounded like a real person rather than a recording, although she didn't respond when I tried to talk. The thing was, her accent (southern) was so think I could barely understand what she was saying -- I was glad to have your transcript because I only would have got about half of it. I can't imagine most Minnesotans would have stayed on the line past the first couple of words.

Posted by: Clara on October 16, 2008 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

"I got one of those robocalls today in Colorado, saying that if Obama and Udall are elected they will take away the secret ballot in union elections. That must be a lie. No American would favor taking away the secret ballot. That sounds like something only Communists would do. Democrats would never do anything to rob workers of their rights! Indeed, the AFL-CIO fought for the secret ballot in union elections in eastern Europe during the years of Soviet domination. Pass the word, Democrats are being smeared with this kind of attack!"

NO!

This is a lie and it's a dirty trick they are playing on this issue, saying that Democrats "want to take away the right to secret ballots" from union members.

I have done 3 push polls on this issue so full of lies that you could not imagine.

Here's how it currently works:

When a shop wants to unionize, a certain percentage of eligible workers must sign union cards, whereupon an election is scheduled, with the said "secret ballot". Before the time that the election takes place, management has plenty of time to threaten workers with firing, layoffs, and closing shop. They may make workers attend long indoctrination sessions to tell them lies about what unions can and can't do, as well as what their rights are.

During that time those employees who are seen as organizers are usually fired to terrorize the remaining workers into not voting to go union.

Currently the Labor Board does nothing about these abuses, which are illegal.

What the law will do is remove the requirement for a waiting period and election, as the employees have already chosen to vote with their signatures, thus making unionizing simpler and in fact, fairer.

If you like the present system better, then contact everybody you know and tell them to contact their reps and senators.

But just remember, for me in an obscure state to have done 3 push polls that lasted half an hour, big business is spending a lot of money on this issue. This is a big business issue, and business is not calling us because they are concerned about workers' rights.

Posted by: Angela Quattrano on October 16, 2008 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

Maverick behavior? Racist, crazy, erratic, stupid...

Posted by: MarkH on October 16, 2008 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP leadership bought this, this last horrific nasty effort to retain power for themselves. Bush taught an 8-year class in Low-down Politics to his own, for his own, with his own. I really believe that Rovian dream of a permanent Republican majority was one they trusted would happen; because now look at them, the nastiness, the ugliness, the lies, the FEAR that America IS voting against them.

Republican leadership fully believe that the Democrats are worse than they are, that the left will be able to come to Washington armed with the same tools and games gleaned from the Bush Administration.

I imagine the GOP leadership is hating the idea that someone else might now get to play politics by the GOP rules that Bush and Cheney laid down for themselves: all that juicy new executive power and those DC lawyers and tricks with signing laws, all nicely hidden in a now tightly closed government, once hidden BY Republicans, now hidden from them? The GOP leadership thinks we ALL are like them, and will play this nation as they have played it, and they are scared as hell the power monster they themselves created is about to turn on them.

Such fear and mad self-preservation would account for what is happening on the Right, when their candidate isn't allowed to campaign with dignity or facts. If McCain had any self-respect left, he wouldn't put his name on calls like these. But he does. Winning means that much to him, I guess.

Posted by: Bettin on Obama on October 16, 2008 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

"And when will party members with honor stand up and say that McCain and the RNC don't speak for them?"


Yes, we're all waiting for her to do that.

Posted by: SteveB on October 16, 2008 at 8:44 PM | PERMALINK

I'm in south-western Virginia and I feel slighted. They must think they have us in the bag, because I haven't got a single robocall, pushpoll or anything else. I've been waiting with bated breath too, sob, sob.

In '06, when I did get a couple, I listened to the first few words, then set the receiver on the table and continued to do what I had been doing (usually reading). Put it back in the cradle when I thought about it -- 30-45minutes later (we don't get many phone calls, so I can afford to do that). Don't know whether it does any good/bad or not, but it's satisfying to the soul.

To whoever asked, above: political and charity calls are exempt from the "do not call list". As are businesses that you have *ever* done any business with (even if you haven't dealt with them in more than 5 yrs). And, of course, so are rogue "businesses" (aka scam artists), who couldn't care less about such lists...

Posted by: exlibra on October 16, 2008 at 9:12 PM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately political calls are exempt from requirements to honor a do-not-call list.

The good news is these calls will, on balance, probably have no effect, or work in Obama's favor. Getting automated political ads in the sanctity of your home, often during dinner, is a good way to get a lot of people considering voting for the other guy. When they are smear attacks, it's that much more unwelcome. People who are persuaded by these calls to vote Republican probably were going to do so anyway.

But yes, it does show how, even by the low standards of political operatives, the people running this campaign are immoral and do not believe in democracy.

Posted by: Huck on October 16, 2008 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

My mom is in Pennsylvania, a registered Democrat (Obama volunteer), and got 2 of these robo-calls today.

Posted by: Sarah on October 16, 2008 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

If McCain gets to be potus this way, we will deserve it...


............but we'll also impeach him.

Sleaze

Posted by: AvaMae on October 16, 2008 at 11:52 PM | PERMALINK

Re: "What would the Republican Party be without hate, fear, and ignorance?"

I can't think of a darn thing.

Posted by: Agrippina on October 17, 2008 at 12:11 AM | PERMALINK

I'm a Christian and a lawyer in Illinois, and I have to tell you, re: the latest "born-alive infant" robocalls, babies born alive in botched abortions have been protected in Illinois since 1975: Google 720 ILCS 510/6(2)(b). These Republicans are just liars. And while Obama voted against banning "partial-birth abortion" as a procedure, he supports the ban that Illinois has had in place, also since 1975, on ALL late-term abortions, regardlesss of the method, except in cases where the mother's life or health demands it. Google 720 ILCS 510/5 for that. And forward this link to family and friends who are concerned about this issue. Barack Obama is not the monster that these ridiculous ads are trying to make him out to be. This is a last-ditch effort. http://enough2008.blogspot.com/2008/09/born-alive-babykilling-bs-obamabiden.html

Posted by: Levi on October 17, 2008 at 12:35 AM | PERMALINK

FYI, my husband and I live in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and we have received two robocalls this week -- one on abortion and one on Bill Ayers the terrorist and "leftist extreme" Congressional Democrats.

Posted by: Great Blue on October 17, 2008 at 12:58 AM | PERMALINK

We are in Western Wisconsin and are receiving a call every day. I too thought it must have been a mistake to call us, but we keep getting them. Everytime I get one I give or volunteer more. This isreally going to cost me if it keeps up. But go ahead John McCain waste your money. He thinks his slime is going to change any votes he must be kidding himself.

Posted by: rich on October 17, 2008 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

I am amazed at the folks who say they are happy to see this because it shows desperation on McCain's part. Are we still that naive? These ads WILL work. You sound like we did in the late 80s when we all said "Hey, nobody will actually believe Rush, only clowns will buy what he is selling."


These calls will work and they will get more disgusting. You can talk about how sad it is all you want but these calls WILL work.

Posted by: mw on October 17, 2008 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

These calls are disgusting.

Posted by: BaxterJ on October 17, 2008 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly