Battle without honor or humanity

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by Jeff Fecke • 10/5/08 • Johnny Maverick has decided, at this late date, to simply shred any last bit of honor he used to have, and go for broke:

Sen. John McCain and his Republican allies are readying a newly aggressive assault on Sen. Barack Obama’s character, believing that to win in November they must shift the conversation back to questions about the Democrat’s judgment, honesty and personal associations, several top Republicans said.

With just a month to go until Election Day, McCain’s team has decided that its emphasis on the senator’s biography as a war hero, experienced lawmaker and straight-talking maverick is insufficient to close a growing gap with Obama. The Arizonan’s campaign is also eager to move the conversation away from the economy, an issue that strongly favors Obama and has helped him to a lead in many recent polls.

“We’re going to get a little tougher,” a senior Republican operative said, indicating that a fresh batch of television ads is coming. “We’ve got to question this guy’s associations. Very soon. There’s no question that we have to change the subject here,” said the operative, who was not authorized to discuss strategy and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

To that end, Sarah Palin has been dispatched to…well, lie, evidently:

Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on Saturday accused Democrat Barack Obama of “palling around with terrorists” because of his association with a former 1960s radical, stepping up the campaign’s effort to portray Obama as unacceptable to American voters.

The terrorist in question is Bill Ayers. “Wait,” you say. “You mean the Bill Ayers that Larry Johnson, Gun Counter Gomer, and the Cornerites have been claiming would destroy Obama’s campaign for 15 months now? The one that Obama isn’t actually close to, much less ‘pals’ with?” Yeah, that one. Now, Ayers was an idiot forty years ago, and while his existence did occasionally get my parents out of college classes as professors went to Chicago to attend Weatherman-related trials, well, that’s the main positive contribution he made. Still, it was the late ’60s, and if you were alive to remember that time, you know that the wheels had pretty much come off the wagon. If, like me, you’re not old enough to remember the ’60s, then you probably don’t really give a damn about what a guy did before you have a memory.

For the record, Ayers did some stupid, dangerous things, and while the only people his group killed were members of his group, he probably should have ended up in jail. But he didn’t, and the government has made its decision on that, and in the end, he’s now a professor at the University of Chicago, and he’s worked with Mayor Richard M. Daley, D-Chicago, as such, he’s crossed paths with former University of Chicago professor and Chicago politician Barack Obama. Were they best friends? Compatriots? Comrades? No. Ayers is Obama’s terrorist pal in the same sense that G. Gordon Liddy is John McCain’s terrorist pal.

Of course, Palin didn’t mention Ayers by name, and no doubt that’s intentional; if you mention that Obama knows a college professor who used to be a ’60s radical…well, hell, who doesn’t? But say Obama knows terrorists, and you’re implying that he’s buddies with Osama bin Laden. No doubt, McCain knows this, which is why he had his campaign give Palin that particular cue card with that particular phrasing.

My suspicion is that this won’t work, and may even backfire. Palin’s approach today was anvillicious to say the least, and the fact is that while Jeremiah Wright and Tony Rezko will inevitably surface yet again, their juice was exhausted long ago. (Incidentally, Democrats who wanted Hillary Clinton to drop out early: you owe her a big thanks for ignoring you. If Clinton’s campaign hadn’t pushed these things in the primary, they’d be news now. Instead, they’re “old news,” stuff everyone knows, and just as John McCain’s role in the S&L crisis isn’t being rehashed, neither will Wright, Rezko, or Ayers draw media scrutiny.)

But the GOP will start slinging mud, all the mud they can find. I expect it will get ugly, and the racist subtext will become overt racism by the time we’re done — because I have no faith whatsoever that McCain will behave honorably. He hasn’t thus far.

Jesus Christ once asked, in Matthew 16:26, “For what does it profit a man if he should gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” John McCain won’t know. For while he is assiduously giving his soul away with each passing day, he will not gain the presidency from it. He will just lose all that he once claimed to hold valuable.