Saturday, October 11

McCain pulls up, wherefore?

I am not sure what to make of McCain's shift in strategy. After a week of ludicrous mud slinging, he has confronted, albeit timidly, some of the animosity, ignorance, and rage stoked by his and Palin's distortions and distractions about Barack Obama. Le Monde presents a video that brings together a few of these moments where McCain confronts his own supporters. This could be a momentary truce in the preparation for the third debate. More interestingly, it could be another white flag of surrender from the McCain camp (after the one raised in Michigan). Or it could be simply an acknowledgment that the mud slinging had no effect on public opinion at large and that swift-boating your opponent out the way with slander is not going to work this time. In all three cases, it is a sign of desperation. Things look very bad for Republicans this election cycle. And they seem startled to find that hiding their harmful and bankrupt policies behind slander of their opponents is not working anymore. (Links to NYTimes op-ed by Bob Herbert and NYTimes article on the "rough week" for the McCain campaign.)

In the Washington Post, novelist Khaled Hosseini writes that
pretending to douse flames that you are busy fanning does not qualify as straight talk.

What I find most unconscionable is the refusal of the McCain-Palin tandem to publicly condemn the cries of "traitor," "liar," "terrorist" and (worst of all) "kill him!" that could be heard at recent rallies. McCain is perfectly capable of telling hecklers off. But not once did he or his running mate bother to admonish the people yelling these obscene -- and potentially dangerous -- words. They may not have been able to hear the slurs at the rallies, but surely they have had ample time since to get on camera and warn that this sort of ugliness has no place in an election season. But they have not. Simply calling Obama "a decent person" is not enough.
Well said, Khaled. Incidentally, the BBC has added another document to the series of videos from various sources showing "delusional voters" who support McCain and Palin. This time, they interview the clueless in Ohio and sound a note of warning. The warning, on its surface, is that Obama could lose Ohio and the election as a whole; there is also the implication, however, that his personal safety may be compromised by the degree of suspicion and hate being cooked up against him.

Frank Rich, writing in the New York Times, provides a solid summation of this whole issue. His article ends with these words:
The McCain campaign has crossed the line between tough negative campaigning and inciting vigilantism, and each day the mob howls louder. The onus is on the man who says he puts his country first to call off the dogs, pit bulls and otherwise.