Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 18, 2008

ROBOCALL IRONY.... John McCain hated robocalls eight years ago when they were used to smear him and his family. John McCain hated robocalls nine months ago when his rivals for the Republican nomination used the tactic against him. And yet, McCain loves robocalls now.

The New York Times noted this is "just the latest instance of Mr. McCain embracing the very kind of negative or misleading campaign tactics he once denounced." That's true, but the closer one looks, the worse this appears.

It turns out, when Bush used robocalls to destroy McCain eight years ago, he relied on a firm called FLS, run by a Republican activist named Jeff Larson. And who is McCain paying now to smear Barack Obama with deceptive robocalls? Jeff Larson's FLS.

In his efforts to attack Barack Obama, John McCain appears to have turned to the same political consulting firm that was responsible for spreading vicious smears about the Senator during the 2000 South Carolina GOP primary. [...]

On Friday, a recipient of one of those calls, Chris Shoff of Minnesota, said that he had tied the origins of the campaign to the St. Paul-based firm FLS-Connect, run by prominent GOP figure Jeff Larson.

This past week, Shoff, a Freeborn, Minnesota Democratic County Commissioner, received the Hollywood call while at work. Because state law dictates that any such calls be made by an actual human, Shoff demanded that he be connected to the supervisor. That official, who worked at the robocall shop King TeleServices in Brooklyn, New York, said that they had been contracted out by FLS-Connect.

Officials with King TeleServices did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Asked about the connection to King TeleServices, a receptionist for FLS relayed a message from her supervisors that implicitly acknowledged that they have been working on behalf of the Arizona Republican: "If it is having to do with the McCain campaign or the RNC, you will have to direct your question to them."

It speaks to just how far McCain has fallen. He's not only hired the same smear artists who worked for Bush, he's even hired the same firm that Bush used to smear him personally.

For what it's worth, Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, up for re-election this year, denounced McCain's robocalls and urged him to stop using the tactic in her state.

I seriously doubt that a) McCain is going to care about Collins' complaints; and b) other Republicans will have the courage to follow Collins' lead and condemn McCain's tactics.

Steve Benen 9:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (19)

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I suspect that the denunciation of the calls by down-ticket candidates will become pro-forma. It allows them to deny responsibility while benefiting from whatever conversion and/or suppression results.

Posted by: Buckets on October 18, 2008 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

To me respect is the highest human attribute to give and to receive. The McCain campaign got nothing when it comes to giving or getting respect, and as a consequence, it is suffering from battered Republican syndrome. You know the suffering that comes when one party finally realizes it has been aiding and abetting a very unhealthy circumstance, and the other party is still in denial about the damage it is causing! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on October 18, 2008 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

McCain has a bright future as a stand up comedian, but right now he's just a joke without a punchline.

Posted by: Danp on October 18, 2008 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

I don't fucking get it. Politicians will say they detest this shit and then they will sit together at an event like the Al whatshisname dinner and yuck it up with each other. And journalists will all fall in love with the old McCain all over again. What the fucking fuck?!!! This whole fucking Washington political culture absolutely sucks.

Posted by: lou on October 18, 2008 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

Actually the joke is that he's using King -- which I assume is the same company behind the half-dozen calls I get a day. Robocalls were new in 2000, and people would stay on the line and pay attention. But King has about six different voices they use to tell me that my car is 'out of warranty,' or that I am eligible for a lower rate on my credit card -- I've never owned a car or credit card. As soon as people hear those voices, they'll hang up, before they discover they are selling hate rather than fraud this time. Especially the valley girl one -- whose voice is even more annoying than Palin's.

Posted by: Prup (aka Jim Benton) on October 18, 2008 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

What lou said. If you consider certain conduct to be reprehensible, then you don't sit down over dinner and drinks with the practioners of that conduct. If you do break bread with those people, then maybe you didn't consider that conduct all that reprehensible after all.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on October 18, 2008 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

But McCain always knuckles under to his abusers. Instead of giving the men who trashed his family a fat lip, he gave them a paycheck. And now this. McCain called them "hate calls," and now he's giving them money.

After the North Vietnamese tortured him, McCain recorded propaganda for the enemy. After George Bush beat John McCain, McCain became George's bottom, sandwich-making bitch.

Beat John McCain and he can be your little bitch, too.

That's how I know he'll work with a President Obama.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on October 18, 2008 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

and this surprises anyone because....?

mcsame is losing. he's desperate. and – to paraphrase leo durocher – "last guys don't finish nice."

Posted by: mellowjohn on October 18, 2008 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe McCain thinks because they worked so well for his opponents, they'll work so well for him. Besides, if Obama had just sat down and did all those townhall meetings with McCain, people would have gotten to know Barack better and all the lies that McCain is using to smear him wouldn't work.

Posted by: LewScannon on October 18, 2008 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder if anybody has recordings of those robocalls against McCain from 2000. It would be something if they were recycled through the telcom universe.

Posted by: CarlP on October 18, 2008 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

It's not courage on Collins' part. She's got the campaign won if nothing happens to mess up her commanding lead. Irritating robocalls from crazy republicans is something that could mess up her commanding lead. You can be sure that she is running away from the party. The last thing she needs are these phone calls. It gives Andrews an opportunity to tie her to the national party, to McCain and to Bush.

Posted by: jayackroyd on October 18, 2008 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

Damn. I always do that. Collins opponent is the Congressman Tom ALLEN, not Andrews.

Posted by: Jayackoryd on October 18, 2008 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

What Jayackroyd said, except that she's running against Tom Allen, not 'Andrews.' He's closed the gap considerably, but still needs help, so if any WM readers can send him some help, please do.

Posted by: Bill on October 18, 2008 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

You write: "It speaks to just how far McCain has fallen. He's not only hired the same smear artists who worked for Bush, he's even hired the same firm that Bush used to smear him personally."

Agreed. This has long struck me. In his ambition to prove himself in terms of the memory of his grandfather and father (both Navy admirals) by becoming President, he has sucked up to the same people that savaged his war record, his wife, and his daughter in South Carolina in 2000. A man who won't even stand by and stand up for his wife and his daughter does not deserve to be much of anything, let alone President.

Recently, I've noticed something else. He picked Sarah Palin without vetting her, and now he has adopted Joe the Plumber without knowing him. Both have blown up in his face, but he just doubles down on them. Imagine what his Presidency would be like!

In one sense after another, he keeps adopting characteristics of George W. Bush. Hey, how about more tax cuts for the wealthy and more war against another Muslim country?

Posted by: CMcC on October 18, 2008 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

I saw this comment the other day about Joe the Plumber. It also
applies to Johnny Maverick. "The rich elite of the Republican Party think of him as a battery hen in an egg factory."

Posted by: Fred Flintstone on October 18, 2008 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

John McCain: Dishonor Before Death!

Posted by: josef on October 18, 2008 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

What sort of person hangs on to listen to a robo-call, anyway? Nowadays, if it's not someone I recognize, not someone local, I just pick up the line, and say nothing. Maybe I'll say "ahoy-ahoy" -- sometimes, I start counting. "Hello" is the wrong thing to say, because nowadays there's voice recognition software that starts the spiel after that.

Posted by: d2chase on October 18, 2008 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, I realize I'm begging, but would the Obama campaign PLEASE use this against McCain! How else can you instantly prove that someone is morally bankrupt than by simply showing a person vehemently denouncing the very tactics that they have now chosen to use.

Remember, McCain specifically said that these people have a "special place in hell" reserved for them, AND NOW HE'S HIRED THEM! If this is what he'll do to get the job, what sane individual on the planet is not going to be scared sh-tless at the thought of what they will do ON THE JOB.

Please God, don't let the Obama campaign ignore this gift from you .

Posted by: kiweagle on October 18, 2008 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

It is too bad that politicians continue to exempt themselves from Do Not Call law.

StopPoliticalCalls.org is fighting for the privacy of the American voter.

1 - Creating a Political Do Not Call Registry
2 - Testifying in the US Senate about robo calls (Sen. Feinsteins Robocall Privacy Act)
3 - Forcing states to enforce existing robo call laws (CA, MN, NJ, etc..)
4 - Getting politicians to take a do not robo call pledge (7 have)

As I testified at the US. Senate these robo calls are an epidemic and this election cycle phone spam and are invading the privacy of All American Voters.

Our members are taking a stand and saying enough is enough at the National Political Do Not Contact Registry at StopPoliticalCalls.org.

Here is a quote from a member recently:

"I'm a shift worker, working variable shifts. I depend on my sleep to be able to do my job safely and efficiently. I'm a locomotive engineer. Imagine the disaster were I to fall asleep, operating a freight train carrying hazardous materials in your neighborhood, due to fatigue from being awoken in my middle of the night on a continuous basis during election season. Please stop.."

Learn more.

Shaun Dakin
A non-profit fighting for the privacy of the American voter

Posted by: Shaun Dakin on October 19, 2008 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK



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