You can add another item to John McCain’s increasing list of flip-flops. This one’s a biggie. You might recall McCain talking about civility, how we need to bring the country together, how the campaigns should be above-board and focus on the issues. Why, just four short months ago the McCain camp put out a strategy memo about the tone of the campaign to come (empahses mine):
To: Campaign Leadership
From: Rick Davis
Subject: McCain Message
John McCain is now the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party. It is critical, as we prepare to face off with whomever the Democrats select as their nominee, that we all follow John’s lead and run a respectful campaign focused on the issues and values that are important to the American people.
Throughout the primary election we saw John McCain reject the type of politics that degrade our civics, and this will not change as he prepares to run head-to-head against the Democratic nominee.
John McCain will continue to run on his principles and will focus on the future of our country. The stakes could not be higher in this election, and John will contrast his vision for America with that of Senators Clinton and Obama. He will draw sharp contrasts: victory versus surrender to Islamic extremism; lower taxes and spending versus more big government; free-market solutions to health care versus costly mandates; and the appointment of strict constructionist judges versus those who legislate from the bench.
Overheated rhetoric and personal attacks on our opponents distract from the big differences between John McCain’s vision for the future of our nation and the Democrats’. This campaign is about John McCain: his vision, leadership, experience, courage, service to his country and ability to lead as commander in chief from day one.
Throughout his life John McCain has held himself to the highest standards and he will continue to run a respectful campaign based on the issues. We expect that all supporters, surrogates and staff will hold themselves to similarly high standards when they are representing the campaign. To help guide you, please find talking points below.
This is an exciting time for our country and our Party. Thank you for your dedication and hard work. We face a great challenge this November: John is ready, and with your continued support I am confident we will succeed.
His wife, Cindy, also stated on the Today Show just two months ago, “What you’re going to see is a great debate. Which is what the American public deserves. None of this negative stuff, though. You won’t see it come out of our side at all.”
Here’s some examples of “none of this negative stuff” and a “respectful campaign based on the issues.” And note in particular how very little of this is “about John McCain,” nor is it about a “focus on the future of our country.”
Here’s a quote from an advertisement that aired in markets in Colorado, Pennsylvania and D.C.
He made time to go to the gym, but cancelled a visit with wounded troops. Seems the Pentagon wouldn’t allow him to bring cameras. … I’m John McCain and I approved this message.
As if to further extend the message, McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds added, “You know, it really speaks to the experience that Barack Obama lacks. He prioritizes throngs of fawning Germans over meeting with wounded combat troops in Germany.”
Incidentally, a member of the Parliament in Germany has requested that McCain himself should, “as soon and as clearly as possible,” distance himself from these comments ridiculing Germans.
So why did Obama eventually decide not to visit troops in a military hospital in Germany? The Obama campaign realized that it would look too much like a mere photo-op, so they decided they something that might be viewed as a political stunt was cancelled. I’m sure the Republican operatives that managed to craft Paul Wellstone’s memorial into a campaign rally, even though it was nothing of the sort, were most disappointed.
An ad that started airing this week accuses Obama of being the biggest celebrity in the world, and shows pictures of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears followed by Obama talking on stage to crowds who gathered to listen to him speak during his recent trip to Europe. Several Republican strategists have already condemned the ad, and McCain’s former top aid, John Weaver, called the ad “childish” and noted, “for McCain’s sake, this tomfoolery needs to stop.” The McCain campaign stands by the ad, claiming that the ad “focused on the development of an enormous image of celebrity status.” Now, that’s not exactly keeping with “a respectful campaign focused on the issues and values that are important to the American people,” is it? Oh yeah, and “John McCain … approved this message” as well.
Perhaps the worst attack of all occurred just over a week ago, when McCain himself told an audience in Rochester, NH, “It seems to me that Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign.” Joe Klein of Time Magazine noted in his blog (referenced in the link), “This is the ninth presidential campaign I’ve covered. I can’t remember a more scurrilous statement by a major party candidate. It smacks of desperation. It renews questions about whether McCain has the right temperament for the presidency. How sad.”
Indeed. Sad that McCain is such a flip-flopper that he can’t even honor a campaign promise he made only a few months ago.
So why is the McCain campaign going so outrageously negative? Has the campaign seen some scary polls that have led it to believe that negative is the only way McCain will pull this out? Or is the campaign just trying to say controversial things to get them covered in the news to get more airtime dedicated to John McCain in an attempt to offset the amount of time that Obama can just go out and buy?
Whatever the reason, this tactic is a betrayal to McCain’s promise of civility, and any McCain supporter should be ashamed of him for “approving this message.”
Today, the McCain camp is saying that Obama is playing the race card for saying the following at a campaign stop:
So nobody really thinks that Bush or McCain have a real answer for the challenges we face, so what they’re going to try to do is make you scared of me. 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 those dollar bills, you know. He’s risky. That’s essentially the argument they’re making.
What?? Imagine that. A GOP campaign trying to frighten Americans into voting Republican?? Why, I’ve never heard anything so ridiculous in my life!