As more details emerge on the Obama-Ayers connection (here’s a short story from 1997 on Ayers that features both Obamas and which suggests that Michelle Obama organized the program that featured both Ayers and her husband), the Obama talking heads are hysterical with outrage, which is a clear signal to Team McCain to keep digging and swinging on the subject of Obama’s judgement. Just who, after all, does he intend to staff the 3,000 executive branch jobs with? Who will be at Defense and Justice and Treasury and State?.
The message also has to be targeted at the reality that the dizzying declines in the markets cannot be arrested and reversed with tax hikes and unemployment benefit extensions. Even as people shudder at the rapid decline in their savings and retirement accounts, they have to be trusted to know that anti-growth polices of the sort being pushed by Obama will simply drive business, jobs and growth overseas. A tax hike agenda of the sort pushed by Obama right now is economic suicide, and John McCain has to forcefully say so.
As I wrote on Friday, the crisis in the markets is just one of many factors working against doubling down on the Democrats who blew into town with majorities in the House and Senate in 2006. Obama, Pelosi and Reid are blaming Bush, but they have held the power for the past two years and the economic wreckage is everywhere to be seen, as is the spike in oil that was in part engineered by the Dems’ steadfast refusal to do anything about production for more than a decade. Part of today’s sell-off has also got to be the reaction of the business community to the prospect of Obama in power backed by a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. The full agenda of the modern left, never a realistic possibility in this country until this month, now seems possible if not plausible. Of course capital is scared and cash accumulating on the sidelines. The prospect of radical change is never comforting to investors.
The very panic that has caused the sell-off could also deeply damage Obama’s recent momentum. He is, after all, a complete rookie and without any executive experience in good times much less a crisis. Is the country really going to roll the dice on Ayers’ friend and neighbor and Rezko’s partner, so that he can team with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to redesign the American economy in the middle of a global financial crisis and a war?
A guest column from Clark Judge:
Everything Old is New Again
by Clark S. Judge
This is the week the new-style campaign turns old.
Early Monday morning the Obama campaign released a TV spot slamming John McCain for his involvement in the Keating Five scandal. The attack itself is a scandal. McCain was totally exonerated by the special counsel appointed for the case. But that hasn’t stopped Obama, who, of course, approved this message.
The ad appears to be part of a carefully planned drive to go negative on McCain without taking the wrap for going negative. Conventional wisdom holds that this year voters will punish the candidate who first attacks the other’s character.[# More #]
So in four days of artful preparation and with happy help from the mainstream media, the Obama camp has positioned their smears as responses — well, not exactly responses, as Sarah Palin’s criticisms of Obama’s judgment for his relationship with Weather Underground founder and unrepentant radical activist Bill Ayers came after the Obama camp had hit McCain for showing “erratic” behavior in his role in the financial crisis.
But the MSM still bought the Obama he-hit-me-first line. From yesterday’s New York Times to this morning’s posts on Mark Halperin’s The Page blog and Politico.com, the Obama ad is being reported as “preemptive”, going after McCain’s character because McCain had planned to go after Obama’s. As Politco says, in addition to the Palin speeches about Obama and Ayers, the McCain campaign “intends” to air ads linking Obama to both Ayers and “money launderer Tony Rezko.” Rezko is the man who helped Obama pay for his Hyde Park neighborhood house. So, you see, all Obama is doing is prudently getting there first.
Yet also according to Politico, the Obama organization is moving on numerous fronts, not just in this morning’s TV ad. There is a 13-minute video, a new dedicated website where the video is posted and surrogates deployed to all the media outlets. In other words, this is a full frontal assault across the field of engagement. It almost certainly wasn’t cooked up only after Sarah Palin’s speeches late last week but in development much longer. The cries of we’re just responding are merely measure to minimize collateral damage.
And yet there is a tone in the Obama campaign’s counter-attack on Palin that suggests they believe their man is highly vulnerable on the matter of Mr. Ayers. We all know about their attempts to suppress documents regarding the relationship. But since the Palin speeches-and for the first time in weeks — they have played the race card. Palin’s attacks were “racially tinged,” they’ve charged. It is hard to see how the Alaska governor’s actual words support this view-but racism the biggest bomb in their accusation arsenal, so it looks as if they’ll use it whenever the McCain campaign gets too close to the Obama-Ayers connection. It is a good rule of thumb in politics: If someone over-responds when you hit him, hit him in the same place again. He is hurt, even if he’s trying not to show it.
At the same time, McCain must do more. He is down in the polls, but not because of Obama’s personal attacks, which have only just begun. With the exception of the Palin-Biden debate, the last few weeks have been all financial meltdown all the time in the media. The Democrats have been unrelenting in portraying the crisis as a product of decades of GOP deregulation. This is the opposite of the truth, of course.
The McCain campaign has left these charges largely unanswered. It has not said that the ones who are responsible for them, including Senator Obama, were also responsible for blocking Bush Administration and McCain attempts to reform (that is, to regulate) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It is widely believed that, had those reforms passed, there would have been no crisis.
Yes, Fox News, the Wall Street Journal editorial page and major bloggers have detailed the facts. And in an amazing display of crossing from the dark to the lights side, Saturday Night Live did a dead on skit to that effect, too, this past weekend. But in driving a message home and giving it political salience, it matters what the candidates say, and Senator McCain and his organization have made little attempt to rebut and counter the Democrat’s attack. McCain needs to use Tuesday’s debates and follow up after to drive in this message.
So it’s gloves off time in the 2008 campaign. The polls have swung around wildly over the since mid-August. It’s a fair bet they’ll swing around a lot more before Election Day.
Clark S. Judge is managing director of the White House Writers Group in Washington and was a special assistant and speechwriter to President Reagan.
Because the country cannot afford the greatest gamble in its modern history at this moment in time.
A confrontation with Iran looms and instability in Pakistan grows. The Islamist threat has been beaten back in Iraq, but continues to nurse its fanatical hatreds in many other places, from Waziristan to London. Israel is ringed not with an enemy that wants a state but by two enemies that want Israel to be destroyed.
The world’s financial system is teetering, and the estrangement between the American people and their government has never been this deep in modern times.
The cost of energy has soared and will continue to climb. The entitlement trap has only grown worse in the three years since George Bush asked the Democrats to work with him on Social Security and they said no. The corrupt, self-dealing culture of the Beltway has poisoned the decision-making of many bureaucracies and in ways only the burdened know, and the credibility of the big media is shattered even as their audiences shrink and many of their news rooms come close to shuttering.
So, despite the rapture of college students and the registration of the homeless in Ohio, the common sense of Americans will override curiosity about Barack Obama and infatuation with his celebrity, and trust John McCain to pilot the country for the next four years.
Obama is a wholly untested Illinois state senator with less than 200 actual days on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
Obama has never run anything or faced any significant political crisis in his life requiring the expert exercise of wisdom and judgment, much less this perfect storm of crises.
Obama’s rise has been because of machine politics and hard-left coalitions, and his past is checkered with the most radical and the most corrupt sort of characters imaginable –Ayers, Rezko and Wright to name just the big three.
His party is led by hard-left partisans in the House and Senate, and the “grassroots” manning his campaign and ready to demand their patronage jobs are of the Michael Moore-Daily Kos variety. There is hardly anything left of the old Democratic Party. It isn’t about a New Deal or a Fair Deal or a New Frontier. It is about radical change, and creepy children singing praises to their leader. It is about a thorough-going contempt of ordinary Americans best expressed in Obama’s own description of the bitter God-and-gun clinging small town and rural voters of Pennsylvania.
Obama would be a huge risk in even placid times of peace, full employment, and robust growth, a radical break with America’s political traditions even as measured against the McGovern candidacy of 1972.
In a time of war and precarious economic uncetainty, it would be near suicidal to turn the world’s most important job over to him.
The hard left’s seven year rage against George Bush has disfigured the politics of the country, but it hasn’t infected the large center or demoralized the principled right. Three quarters of the country know the sort of enemy we face around the globe and sense as well the seriousness of the economic risk that faces us and which must be met and managed from maturity and a belief in growth and capitalism’s essential genius. The country has never embraced class warfare, and knows that a lurch to the left now would cripple the vast engine of productivity that is the key to a steady recovery of confidence.
We do not desire to become Europe. We do not fear our neighbors or hate our political opponents or mock religion. Large portions of Obama’s most dedicated supporters do. The MoveOn.org of “General Betrayus” and the Al Franken wing of the Democrats have tried without success to moderate their rhetoric, and the issue of Michelle Obama’s lack of pride in the country have been erased from the fall campaign, but as the decision grows close, mist voters will be turning over all of these things in their head, and assessing the very different futures in front of the country.
This is the choice facing the country as absentees begin to be mailed next week, and it is the seriousness of the moment and the radical nature of the Obama candidacy that favors the tried and tested McCain and his populist, optimistic running mate.
America is a great and good nation, and it will not turn itself over to a party in the grip of its hardest left cadres, its most corrupt machine and its least experienced nominee ever.
Especially not when it has a man of enormous courage and proven devotion and sacrifice at the ready to lead through difficult times.