Many wondered whether John McCain would allow Barack Obama to set the parameters for debate in this election, especially after McCain scolded the North Carolina GOP for their ad featuring Jeremiah Wright. Fear not, Robert Novak says in his column today; McCain will not unilaterally disarm in this fight. Expect the McCain campaign to aggressively highlight questionable aspects of Obama’s policy and career, including his involvement with domestic terrorist William Ayers:
When one of the Democratic Party’s most astute strategists this week criticized John McCain for attacking Barack Obama’s desire to engage Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, I asked what the Republican presidential candidate ought to talk about in this campaign. “Health care and the economy,” he replied. That is a sure formula for Democratic victory, but it is one that McCain’s campaign rejects.
Obama embraced that formula once it became clear that he would best Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. He began pounding McCain for seeking the third term of George W. Bush. At the same time, Obama implores McCain in the interest of “one nation” and “one people” not to attack him. The shorthand, widely repeated by the news media, is that the Republican candidate must not “Swift boat” Obama. That amounts to unilateral political disarmament by McCain.
McCain is not about to disarm. His campaign has no intention of fighting this battle on Democratic turf. During the more than five months ahead, Republicans will explore the mindset of this young man who is a stranger to most Americans. That includes his association with the Chicago leftist William Ayers, who has remained unrepentant about his violent role as a 1960s radical. This will not be popular with McCain’s erstwhile admirers in the mainstream news media, but America has not heard the last of Bill Ayers in this campaign.
I’d suspect that won’t include attacks on Jeremiah Wright and the Trinity United Church of Christ. First, that story has likely played itself out, unless someone finds video of Obama applauding some of Wright’s more lunatic demagoguery. McCain didn’t need to get involved in that story for it to play out, thanks to Hillary Clinton and her team, and a news media that for a short period of time actually did its job.
The issue of Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn has no potential racial pitfalls and more of the radicalism that America largely rejects. Wright may issue crazy conspiracy allegations such as the supposed government plot to create AIDS, but Ayers and Dohrn and their associates planted bombs and committed crimes — and those weren’t limited to the ’60s. Dohrn allegedly acted as an acccomplice to Weather Underground crimes in 1980 and 1981 that resulted in three murders. To this day, they talk about America as a “monster” and their efforts to “overthrow” capitalism and the parts of the government they find objectionable.
And Obama’s website still calls them “mainstream”.
Obama tries to call these “distractions” and attacks McCain for mentioning them, but Obama himself ran on his judgment as a replacement for experience. That judgment has come under attack even from his own surrogates on Iran, and Obama yesterday tried to call that a distraction, inferring that Iran was unimportant. The “distraction” meme has almost reached satirical proportions, a sign that Obama has gotten outboxed on the campaign trail and seeks relief through stonewalling.
At least according to Novak, McCain won’t allow Obama to define the boundaries to nothing more than the platitudes of hope and change. Let’s hope he’s right.
Update: North Carolina, not New Jersey. Yikes. Did someone replace my coffee with the decaffeinated version?