Throwing Down the Gauntlet

Posted: October 10, 2008 in 2008 Elections, Barack Obama, John McCain
Tags: , ,

Every Barack Obama Internet myth that was discussed and debunked back during the primaries is coming back with a vengeance.

Some of the McCain surrogates, and on occasion Sarah Palin herself, whip up their supporters into such an anti-Obama frenzy that, depending on your perspective is reminiscent of George Orwell’s “Two Minutes Hate” or this sequence from the Pink Floyd movie “The Wall.” Highlights of recent events include McCain supporters yelling out “treason,” “terrorist,” or “kill him” when Obama was discussed.

After his surrogates began reviving the Axis of Ayers/Rezko/Wright, McCain said that the gloves would come off for the second debate.  But during the 90 minutes he was onstage with Obama, he never mentioned Bill Ayers, Tony Rezko, or Jeremiah Wright.

But they were all back with a vengeance during McCain/Palin events on the campaign trail a day later.  The McCain campaign produced a web ad hitting Obama for his ties to Ayers.  The difference is that a web ad costs nothing to get on the air, they email supporters who watch it to their heart’s content and the talking heads on cable will play it because it gives them something to talk about.  This gives the McCain the best of both worlds – they get the Ayers message out to a wider audience while at the same time they don’t have to spend any money to get a full-fledged ad on the air.  Note that the web ad includes the requisite “I’m John McCain and I approve this message” disclaimer so he does put his own name and image behind this attack.

It looks as if the Obama campaign is now trying a new strategy to get under McCain’s skin in the runup to the third debate: question his manhood.

Obama during an interview with ABC News:

“I am surprised that, you know, we’ve been seeing some pretty over-the-top attacks coming out of the McCain campaign over the last several days, that he wasn’t willing to say it to my face. But I guess we’ve got one last debate. So presumably, if he ends up feeling that he needs to, he will raise it during the debate.”

Joe Biden at a campaign event:

“All of the things they said about Barack Obama…on the TV, at their rallies, and now on YouTube, and everything else they’re doing before the debate, all the things they’re saying after the debate as recently as this morning, John McCain could not bring himself to look Barack Obama in the eye and say the same things to him,” said Biden.

This puts McCain into a box.  Obama and Biden have thrown down the gauntlet and essentially dared him to bring up the subject(s) during the final presidential debate.  If McCain goes there, he gives Obama an opening to defend himself and bring up the subject of McCain’s relationship with Charles Keating before a nationally televised audience of millions.   If McCain ignores the subject, it will be seen as backing down from Obama’s challenge or disassociating himself from the attacks being done by supporters in his name.

The media narrative of the hostile crowds at McCain events is beginning to pick up steam, but the partisan media blogs on the left are taking Obama’s “say it to my face” message further, accusing McCain of cowardice.  Former Republican John Cole was one of the first out of the gate, but the liberal but normally cautious Josh Marshall has also bluntly called out McCain for his cowardice for fanning the partisan flames for his supporters but not hitting Obama with it directly when he had the chance.

Regardless of whether McCain wins or loses this election, his personal reputation and image will be damaged, possibly beyond repair.


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