In an interview that could only be described as a coming attractions preview for the general election campaign, Republican presidential candidate John McCain today sought to raise questions about Barack Obama’s patriotism due to his association with a former member of the Weather Underground on ABC’s This Week program.
When asked by host George Stephanopoulos if he thought that Obama shared his patriotism, McCain brought up William Ayers, “I’m sure he’s very patriotic. But his relationship with Mr. Ayers is open to question. He became friends with him and spent time with him while the guy was unrepentant over his activities as a member of a terrorist organization, the Weathermen. Does he condemn them? Would he condemn someone who says they’re unrepentant and wished that they had bombed more?” McCain asked.
So the Republican strategy for the fall is to spread the rumor that Barack Obama associates with terrorists. This is a similar variation of the 2004 general election theme that a vote for John Kerry was a vote for the terrorists.
It should be no surprise that McCain would go this route, because the men pulling the levers behind his campaign are Bush neo-cons. In a time of war, and a dire economy, I don’t think that the same tired patriotism argument is going to fly this time. The McCain people are fools for even trying this on Obama.
Hillary Clinton had her best moments of the campaign when she stayed positive. Her support nosedived when she went negative. The advantage of Obama’s “new politics” theme is that it allows him to stay above the fray.
The difficulty for Obama has been walking the line between new politics and counterattacking. The GOP will probably bring up Ayers and the flag lapel pin distractions because they don’t have anything else to run on. McCain can run on more war, a bad economy, and tax cuts. None of these alone or together will be enough to overcome the political tsunami that is Barack Obama in 2008.
Watch the McCain interview here: