Smearing McCain as a racist isn’t hitting hard enough?

posted at 7:36 am on August 7, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Democrats, according to the Washington Post, worry that Barack Obama may turn into another John Kerry on the campaign trail.  Still obsessing over the understandable pushback from fellow Vietnam veterans who resented Kerry’s smear of them as war criminals at the start of his political career, Democratic insiders fear that Obama will not hit back hard enough at McCain’s attack ads.  Only in this front-pager by Jonathan Weisman and Perry Bacon, Obama’s smear of McCain as a racist oddly gets mentioned only indirectly:

 The parries come more than a week after his Republican opponent launched a string of increasingly personal attacks on Obama. McCain has said that his rival would lose a war in order to win a campaign, accused him of going to a gym rather than visiting wounded troops, and, while aides asserted that he had “played the race card,” hinted that Obama has a messiah complex and portrayed him as a celebrity comparable to Paris Hilton or Britney Spears. That final line of assault continued yesterday with a new McCain ad, again mocking Obama as “the biggest celebrity in the world.”

Such attacks have raised worries among Democratic strategists — haunted by John F. Kerry‘s 2004 run and Al Gore’s razor-thin loss in 2000 — that Obama has not responded in kind with a parallel assault on McCain’s character. Interviews with nearly a dozen Democratic strategists found those concerns to be widespread, although few wished to be quoted by name while Obama’s campaign is demanding unity.

“Democrats are worried,” said Tad Devine, a top strategist for Kerry who thinks Obama must stay on the high road. “We’ve been through two very tough elections at the national level, and it’s very easy to lose confidence.” 

Weisman and Bacon neglect to address why McCain and his campaign said that Obama had played the race card — a very strange omission in an article that makes Obama look reluctant to strike out at his opponents.  Obama on two separate occasions accused McCain’s campaign and the RNC of racism — once in June when he told an audience that they were planning race-based attacks on him, and once in late July when he accused McCain and the RNC of already attacking him on that basis.  Those two accusations prompted McCain to strenuously and publicly object to Obama’s race-card play.

In fact, had Weisman and Bacon read their own paper, they would have noticed that Dan Balz covered this issue this past weekend.  Balz reported that Obama’s campaign could not come up with a single example to support Obama’s contention that McCain had attacked him for “not looking like all of those other presidents on the dollar bills” or for his “funny name”.  Balz also notes that the Obama campaign did the exact same thing to Bill Clinton in the primaries, and it was Clinton who acted more like Kerry in the face of those attacks.

So far, most of the media has let Obama off the hook for his smear tactics against McCain, who has disciplined his own campaign and surrogates for even getting close to race-based attacks.  Casting Obama as the nice guy in this summer’s campaign is even worse than ignoring the reality of what Obama did to McCain.


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it’s very easy to lose confidence.

Sure it is. It’s hard to convince other people to believe in something you don’t really believe in yourself.

RobertInAustin on August 7, 2008 at 7:46 AM

In hindsight, I guess McCain’s strategy of disowning anything that even hinted at smears against Obama looks pretty good now!

Vince on August 7, 2008 at 7:48 AM

There isn’t a person reading the Washington Post who doesn’t know Obama smeared McCain. So covering it up just makes readers more suspicious of the media and Obama. It’s like a used care salesman trying to hide an obvious dent in the door – you wonder what else he’s hiding and lose all faith in him and the car.

TheBigOldDog on August 7, 2008 at 7:48 AM

As much as the Big MSM outlets are nose-deep in the tank for Obama, it seems that the Obama camp can make any outrageous claims they like, and not be seriously called to task for it.

hillbillyjim on August 7, 2008 at 7:54 AM

Casting Obama as the nice guy in this summer’s campaign is even worse than ignoring the reality of what Obama did to McCain.

Actually it’s pretty easy. Obama “plays the race card” in two examples you cited, once in June, and once in July.

McCain has released something like 5 or 6 negative ads about Obama over the past two weeks alone.

Quantity, not quality is what is compared. McCain is making more negative (and more prominent, given all the publicity he gets for these ads) attacks, so his is being taken as the more negative campaign.

The fact that McCain is wasting these attacks accusing Obama of “being a celebrity” instead of actual, substantive attacks on Obama’s record isn’t the Washington Post’s fault.

e-pirate on August 7, 2008 at 8:00 AM

I predict that the drive-by media will go down with the good ship Obama. While they may think Americans are stupid, I think the lection will prove otherwise. No one wants a Marxist for President, nor do they want collectivism as asociety. That’s so gone with the Soviet Union.

But at least you know why the lefties were all down in Venezuela swooning over Hugo Chavez, another glorious flop of a country in the making.

tarpon on August 7, 2008 at 8:02 AM

Obama has not responded in kind with a parallel assault on McCain’s character.

Yeah, that whole “John McCain is a racist” thingy doesn’t quite count as an “assault on McCain’s character”, now does it?

crushliberalism on August 7, 2008 at 8:04 AM

“And did I mention that he’s black?”

drjohn on August 7, 2008 at 8:09 AM

Obama is on the brink of losing the middle right now, and unsubstantiated claims of racism will hurt him even more. Alot of voters, many of whom voted for Clinton, are just sick of that crap.

forest on August 7, 2008 at 8:12 AM

Okaaaay. So Obama didn’t go to the gym, he went on a little shopping spree instead of visiting the troops at Landstuhl. Consumer in Chief.

marybel on August 7, 2008 at 8:14 AM

The media is using their tried and true MEDIA JUDO that the wonderful, marvelous journalists and layers of editors learned in their little wonderful classrooms.

They turn Barry’s racist attack into McCain attacking Barry, then base every single consecutive story on McCain being a racist.

They are complete pond scum.

benrand on August 7, 2008 at 8:20 AM

“Democrats are worried,” said Tad Devine, a top strategist for Kerry who thinks Obama must stay on the high road. “We’ve been through two very tough elections at the national level, and it’s very easy to lose confidence.” 

Obama calls McCain a racist after McCain does everything a candidate can do to discourage such attacks on Obama.

Way to stay classy, democrats! If this is the ‘high road’, wait till they start going down the low road…

Right_of_Attila on August 7, 2008 at 8:24 AM

“instead of actual, substantive attacks on Obama’s record”

What record? Is it a 45 or a 78?

The celebrity ad was effective and worked precisely because it mocked Obama. Up until now, the media has been treating him like he has already been elected.

That ad equated the throngs Obama’s received, with bubbleheads at rock concerts, etc. It said that crowds only mean that a celebrity is popular, not that he has substance.

NoDonkey on August 7, 2008 at 8:24 AM

Part of Obama’s strategy was contingent on McCain and Co. falling for the Obama race-baiting tactic. His blatant mischaracterization of the McCain campaign was so transparent that it couldn’t even gain traction with his usual media cheerleaders.

McCain’s refusal to allow the campaign to be framed by Obama’s bogus victomhood has taken some ammunition away from the Obama Spin Machine.

hillbillyjim on August 7, 2008 at 8:26 AM

“Such attacks have raised worries among Democratic strategists ….”

Who are the ones that are really worried?

Democrat Strategists: WaPo, NYT, LAT, CBS, ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, NPR, etc., etc.

fogw on August 7, 2008 at 8:30 AM

Racism and class envy has always beenn the standard operating procedures for the democrats. Without using hate for motivation, they could not exist as a party. This guilt trip that is in the face of all of us every day is getting terribly old. When you think about it, they used it on their own, should we think they wouldn’t use it on the Republicans?

volsense on August 7, 2008 at 8:30 AM

victimhood %&*$it!!

hillbillyjim on August 7, 2008 at 8:33 AM

Queen of the eastern seaboards elite bothered by McCains new “celebrity”.

“Now John McCain is pea-green with envy. That’s the only explanation for why a man who prides himself on honor, a man who vowed not to take the low road in the campaign, having been mugged by W. and Rove in South Carolina in 2000, is engaging in a festival of juvenilia.

The Arizona senator who built his reputation on being a brave proponent of big solutions is running a schoolyard campaign about tire gauges and Paris Hilton, childishly accusing his opponent of being too serious, too popular and not patriotic enough.”…Maureen Dowd

Miz Dowd’s having a problem now that her cadidate has been exposed as nothing but an empty suit with a Messiah complex. While she thinks Macs new ads are juvinile, McCain has out-hit Obama with the U-Tube crowd which is predominately thirty and under. McCain has accomplished in the past week what none of the other candidates in the Democrat Party could muster during the primaries, including the “Clinton Machine”—–and that’s getting the attention of the youth movement that has been under the “Obama spell” of hope and change. Checking the tire pressure just isn’t cutting the mustard anymore. Nor is Mz Dowd’s tune-up.

Rovin on August 7, 2008 at 8:37 AM

“…Democratic insiders fear that Obama will not hit back hard enough at McCain’s attack ads…”

Democratic fears are well founded; the long knives are out there for Obama, the obfuscation and prevarication is well underway.

“During an interview with [Jerome R.] Corsi on the August 5 edition of MSNBC Live, Brewer, citing a report by Media Matters on The Obama Nation’s numerous falsehoods, pointed out that contrary to Corsi’s assertion that Obama did not dedicate the book to his mother or his grandparents, “it says right in the introduction that it’s dedicated to his family.” Corsi responded, in part, “In the introduction that he wrote after, this was going with the second book.” In fact, Obama’s statement, “[i]t is to my family, though, my mother, my grandparents, my siblings, stretched across oceans and continents that I owe the deepest gratitude and to whom I dedicated this book,” is included in the introduction to both the 1995 edition (page xi) and 2004 edition (page xvii) of Dreams…”

Jerome R. Corsi, PhD was John E. O’Neill’s co-author of the slime manual “Unfit for Command” that smeared John Kerry during the last presidential campaign.

Veterans take note!

J_Gocht on August 7, 2008 at 8:48 AM

…accused him of going to a gym rather than visiting wounded troops,

This is an accusation??? I thought it was a statement of fact. “He accused Barack Obama of breathing in oxygen and breathing out carbon dioxide, a known greenhouse gas that leads to global warming!”

rmgraha on August 7, 2008 at 8:52 AM

RALSTON: Maybe if there’s a crisis in the future with nuclear waste storage, maybe you’ll just say to Nevadans, “Well, I was against Yucca Mountain, but guess what? Now I’m for it.”

OBAMA: No, well, the — the — eh, eh, eh, uh, uh… You know, I — I — Jon, don’t put words in my mouth or anticipate what I’m going to do.

~~~

“Nobody thinks that Bush and McCain have a real answer to the challenges we face. So what they’re going to try to do is make you scared of me,” Obama said. “You know, ‘he’s not patriotic enough, he’s got a funny name,’ you know, ‘he doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills.”

These remarks were days apart.

And the best part of the latter quote is that he mentions “other presidents.” If he (God forfend!) should get elected, he’ll start talking about “other emperors.”

Akzed on August 7, 2008 at 8:53 AM

The problem for the left in this case was the modern day problem of “Immediate gratification syndrome”. Playing the race card worked so well for them against Bill Clinton in the primaries they couldn’t wait to do it again during the general election, which was the problem — even though nobody’s even going to be casting early voting ballots until late October, they couldn’t wait to see if anything actually did happen, and decide to preemptively try to move the goalposts on McCain and declare any attack at all on Obama as racist.

That included both the candidate, with his speech telling you McCain was going to do racist things, and his supporters, who in the past week have tried to convince the public that equating Barack to a vapid Hollywood diva or calling him skinny is racist. And they believed that anything they said would immediately become conventional wisdom, due to the supportive big media outlets. But the public already had its radar on alert for hyped-up racism charges, both due to the Clinton incidents and to the Obama camp’s own hyper-sensetivity to the New Yorker cover, which led to perhaps the most insufferable liberal spin stories of the campaign, that even if you could joke about Barack, there was just nothing about the Messiah to make fun of.

The problem now for Democrats is they’ve got 85 days left before the election and have a candidate who can’t afford to give up the race card, but who has played it so often the public is starting to tune out that message. All the GOP and the McCain camp have to do now is make sure they don’t do something that is tangible enough to allow Obama and his media supporters to play the race card with some semblance of credibility among swing voters.

jon1979 on August 7, 2008 at 8:53 AM

Smearing McCain as a racist is utterly stupid . . . but about what one should expect from this dolt.

rplat on August 7, 2008 at 9:01 AM

But…but…
Obama promised to never go negative in this campaign!

jgapinoy on August 7, 2008 at 9:37 AM

“Democrats are worried,” said Tad Devine, a top strategist for Kerry who thinks Obama must stay on the high road.

A little insight into the thinking of a liberal. Playing the race card is staying on the high road?

TooTall on August 7, 2008 at 9:44 AM

I think Obama unwittingly hit upon something (this is his only way of hitting upon something, apparently) here:

“And did I mention that he’s [a] black [guy who likes to call white people racists]?”

drjohn on August 7, 2008 at 8:09 AM

FTFY. No charge.

Jaibones on August 7, 2008 at 9:47 AM

But…but…
Obama promised to never go negative in this campaign!

jgapinoy on August 7, 2008 at 9:37 AM

O ye infidels and heretics; all the the Second Coming says is truth by definition and thus positive. It is only your sinful ears that could interpret things otherwise!
/sarc

Annar on August 7, 2008 at 9:49 AM

“…Such attacks have raised worries among Democratic strategists — haunted by John F. Kerry’s 2004 run and Al Gore’s razor-thin loss in 2000 — that Obama has not responded in kind with a parallel assault on McCain’s character.

Everyone knows; that John Kerry’s Vietnam War service medals were won under “fishy” circumstances…?

SBVT’s take note!

J_Gocht on August 7, 2008 at 9:57 AM

The fight started when he hit me back.

mikeyboss on August 7, 2008 at 10:09 AM

it’s very easy to lose confidence.

Sure it is. It’s hard to convince other people to believe in something you don’t really believe in yourself.

RobertInAustin

BAM. Nuff said.

Metro on August 7, 2008 at 10:14 AM

They are complete pond scum

That’s an insult.

 

 

(to pond scum)

The Monster on August 7, 2008 at 11:06 AM

…the obfuscation and prevarication is well underway…

J_Gocht on August 7, 2008 at 8:48 AM

Never, in all the history of the U.S.A., has there been more obfuscation, and non-reporting, by most media, than on Obama. In fact, never before has most media been holding onto, and being held onto his/their crotch so tightly. You have no complaints, whatsoever, so far.

It’s about to turn because the media narcissists love themselves just a tad more than their Obama. This is too much megalomaniacal narcissism (to borrow from C. Hitchens) even for them.

Entelechy on August 7, 2008 at 2:17 PM

I didn’t read all the posts, but does anyone think that obh should have moved about a step to his right, so that when you look at the picture you would see obh and “is our lord”?

TimothyJ on August 7, 2008 at 3:11 PM