I never would've imagined McCain would sink lower than Bush/Rove, but he has. Cindy McCain's assurances that no negative campaigning would occur is a joke as her husband has turned that promise on its head. Much of the honor and respect accorded McCain prior to this race has long slid to nothing.Well, after scribbling this down, Monday came along and I see they've decided to sink lower and return to trying desperately to associate Obama with Ayers. Apparently they've concluded they must change the topic off the economy, else face defeat.
With just a few weeks remaining before Nov. 4th and McCain's poll numbers sinking faster than the stock market, the question is will McCain resort to Willie Horton-type, suggestive, beyond-the-pale negative ads, or will he instead say no, stop the insanity? I'd like to believe he has a shred of dignity left and will tell Schmidt to not go there, to not repeat the Rove-ian antics that were used against him in 2000.
But we'll see. He may actually sink further in gall and go there in full force, only to then beg for forgiveness months later if he loses. It will be too late by then, his soul long ago sold to the dark side, with no chance for pity and restoration of respect by the public. Hopefully voters will be smarter this time around if they try to pull that kind of late-in-the-game BS -- hopefully.
Harold Meyerson had a terrific column yesterday where he basically lays out if McCain wants to got there, Obama has more than enough ammo (Keating and Phil Gramm) to fire back (never mind that Obama's association with Ayers is tenuous, versus McCain's full-embrace relationships with Keating and Gramm).
This latest attempt is even more pathetic and desperate than the Willie Horton stunt because at least the Horton ad was "fresh", new material (albeit a distortion to scare voters), whereas with Ayers it's just retread, old news debunked by many respected news outlets and is not likely to resonate a second time around (it barely did the first time).
But alas, it appears McCain et al have decided to sink even lower in hopes of reversing their slide in the polls. Steve Benen wrote today:
There's been a lot of talk of late about whether McCain, win or lose in November, will regret how pathetic he became over the course of this campaign. I rather doubt it -- he knew exactly what he was doing when he hired Karl Rove's operation and deliberately abandoned his integrity for electoral gain.I now think McCain concluded that his career has led up to this point in time, that it was the presidency or bust. Do whatever it takes, no matter how shameful or scummy (after all, such tactics worked against him in 2000), go for that ultimate prize, and if it doesn't work out then so be it. He is 72 years old, rich, the GOP is likely finished with respect to power, so if he lost it just meant an earlier retirement. All the maverick stuff was not to be "reclaimed" as Benen put it, but rather he was done. He made a decision, a very unfortunate one, that this was to be his last gasp as a politician and if he was going to go out, he was going to do it flailing and flinging all the garbage he could muster, with a willingness to trash his past. Truly, truly sad.
John Weaver, McCain's former chief strategist, told Heilemann months ago that the carefully-cultivated image may not be salvageable. "There is no brand in politics you can just put on the shelf, run a campaign totally contrary to it, and then take it down later and still expect people to believe it," Weaver said.
I suspect that's exactly what McCain expected. He'd developed a degree of credibility and good will, and thought he could simply reclaim it after lying and smearing his way to victory. By all appearances, he badly miscalculated.
Now I'm off to watch debate -- let's see if McCain can actually descend even lower.