Monday, October 6, 2008

Lee's smiling somewhere

The late Republican political operative Lee Atwater, shown above with the man he helped win the White House, the first President Bush, would have been proud over the weekend to hear current GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin say that Barack Obama is "palling around with terrorists." It was Atwater who famously said of Michael Dukakis, "I'll strip the bark off the little bastard." He did that, in large part, with the infamous Willie Horton ad, linking Dukakis to a convicted killer on a weekend furlough who committed an armed robbery and raped a woman. Palin, in her weekend campaign appearances, said Obama is "not a man who sees America like you and I see America. Our opponent ... is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country." The "terrorist" to whom Palin referred is William Ayers, who was a member of the violent Weather Underground during the Vietnam era. Obama, of course, was a little boy when Ayers was in the domestic terror group, and he has since denounced Ayers' actions and beliefs. As for "palling around," that's a huge exaggeration. An Associated Press report notes that Ayers and Obama once served on a board together, and the older man hosted a political event for Obama when the latter was first running for office in Illinois. There's no evidence, says the AP, that the men have, or ever had, a close relationship. Palin's comments tap into the "Obama is a Muslim" undercurrent of the political campaign, and I feel pretty sure that if you don't know who William Ayers is, the McCain-Palin campaign would be OK with it if you, in your mind, just pictured Obama holding hands with Osama bin Laden. This latest negative approach from the GOP camp follows a rough week for the McCain-Palin ticket in which the economy took center stage and polls showed Obama building leads in key states. The Republicans are making it clear that over the last four weeks of the campaign, they'll be focusing on Obama's "character" and fitness to hold the nation's top office. That sort of attacking, mud-slinging approach doesn't come without hazards. If the GOP tries to sully Obama's character by saying he "pals around" with terrorists, the Democrats might point out that McCain was "palling around" with his second wife while still living with the first Mrs. McCain. If they target Obama for his relationship with criminal businessman and fundraiser Tony Rezko, the Obama camp can reference McCain's even-closer relationship with Charles Keating, a central figure in the 1980s savings and loan scandal whose S&L failure cost investors, including many elderly people, their life savings, and cost taxpayers billions. (In fact, the Obama camp already has issued a Web video and letter on the Keating case in response to Palin's weekend remarks.) The Republicans might also revive the controversy over Obama's former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. While it's pretty clear Wright is a hateful idiot, McCain also has his pastor problems. After seeking the endorsements of conservative preachers Rod Parsley and John Hagee, McCain had to reject those endorsements and distance himself from the men of the cloth. Parsley, you see, likes to rattle sabers for a holy war against Islam, and Hagee has referred to the Roman Catholic Church as "the great whore" and a "false cult system." What it all boils down to is this: All four of the candidates in this election - Obama, McCain, Palin and Biden - have skeletons in their closets. Those skeletons already are known to anyone who has been paying even a little attention to the presidential race. The question is this: Are we going to spend the next four weeks basing our decision in the presidential race on who can come up with the most damning TV ad rehashing the dirty laundry of the other candidate, or are we going to look at the issues and vote for the person we believe is best-equipped to lead the country for the next four years. It's your decision.



Blogger PRIguy said...

It sure would be nice if either side could answer a question, discuss an issue, or just simply take a stance. I can assure you that most Americans don't recall the votes and quotes that each side brings into question when they're trashing the opponent. It would be nice if they could just answer the f**king questions.

I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what either side really actually stands for and what they're going to do for the country.

I also think I'm going to explode if I hear either side's candidate make the comparison of "Wall Street & Main Street," as if them passing through a small town and having a cup of coffee at a diner (with the full entourage of photographers, reporters and secret service agents safely out of the picture) somehow connects these privileged individuals with regular people.

Are today's families really "sitting at the kitchen table" working out budget problems? When I hear this, I get this image of steaming mugs of coffee, half-eaten sandwiches forgotten on a plate, balls of discarded paper with useless figures scribbled on them, pencils worn to a nub, an adding machine with four and a half feet of tape dangling from the table, and crumpled napkins doubling as tissues used to dry the tears of worry that each unopened bill brings.

Me? I do all of my banking online. And I'm not nearly as tech-savvy as so many families these days, such as availing myself of all of the little things I could have e-mailed to me, texted to me, or whatever else you can do with a Blackberry or loaded cell phone. I just don't see these folks sitting a the table crunching numbers.

True, sometimes I'm at the kitchen table with my laptop...

October 6, 2008 at 12:39 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

I don't have a table in my kitchen...

October 6, 2008 at 12:45 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

Priguy, I don't intend to trivialize your well thought out comment by posting snarky little one line comments like "I don't have a table in my kitchen..." but I am short on time today and that is the first thing that I always think of when I hear of kitchen table economics... anyway, following that lead, I just wanted to comment on how much Lee Atwater looks like Dana Carvey... I was such a young child at the time depicted in the picture... but wow! He looks like dana carvey :-)


October 6, 2008 at 1:14 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

I thought your kitchen table comment meant just that...that you don't have a kitchen table. I certainly wasn't offended. Hell, I don't have a dining room OR a dining room table.

And yes, Atwater does look a lot like Carvey, particularly when Carvey is doing his bit about guitar players and the faces they make.

October 6, 2008 at 1:44 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

Well, that is what I meant about the table :-)

But I think that reinforces what you were saying...

If my wife were making financial decisions at the kitchen table, she'd be in someone else's kitchen :-)

"I thought you said your dog doesn't bite?!"

"THAT ain't MY dog" :-)


October 6, 2008 at 2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Ayers attack reminds me of the 1992 presidential campaign, when Bush the First tried to hint that Bill Clinton was some sort of Manchurian Candidate because he visited Moscow when he was a Rhodes Scholar. We were apparently supposed to imagine him meeting with KGB agents and hatching dark plots ("In 1992, I'll run for president you see, and then we'll start putting those statues of Lenin and Marx up in every town square...").

It didn't get any traction and I doubt this will.

Oh, by the way, a McCain economics adviser told the Wall Street Journal today that McCain would pay for his proposed health care tax credits by making deep cuts in Medicare and Medicaid. Boy, that's a way to bring the seniors on board!

--Brad Hundt

October 6, 2008 at 3:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good god, if we're all suddenly to be held accountable for our past associations, none of us is safe. But I will point out that Bush and Cheney have seen a lot of each other the past eight years. So who's the bigger criminal?

October 6, 2008 at 5:12 PM  
Blogger Dale Lolley said...

Once Obama locked up the Democratic nomination, this election ceased to be about Dems vs. Republicans. Given the state of the Republican party and the sitting president, it became all about Obama. Do the people think he's the right person to lead?
This election should have been a cakewalk for the Dems, but he's been unable to close the deal because many people still have questions about that.
His association with Ayers is one of those.
Brant failed to mention the "kickoff fundraser" Ayers hosted for Obama was at Ayers' home. I don't know about you, but I'm not having an election fundraiser for somebody from the neighborhood who I don't really know all that well.
But maybe that's just me.
His association with Ayers certainly raises a white flag. I don't care whether he was eight or 18 when Ayers committed his acts of terrorism. I certainly wouldn't have a fundraiser at his home no matter how tied in he is to the Chicago political scene.
Course I wouldn't have sat in a church for 20 years whilst the preacher spewed forth hate speech. I would have found myself a new church. And I certainly wouldn't have had that person around as my spirtitual advisor until he became a political liability. He wouldn't have been there at all.
But I know, Obama says he never heard any of those speeches. Rev. Wright saved those for the days Obama wasn't in the pew.
They were only available for the viewing public on the internet, but nobody in the vast team Obama assembled told the boss that Wright might be a problem.

October 7, 2008 at 1:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let alone his ties to the communist organizer in Hawaii. This man scares even long time political operatives privately. There is real problems and dangers that need to be looked at.
Thanks Dale for a different approach to the Obama think.

October 7, 2008 at 2:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I see an attack ad, it makes me think that side is losing.

October 7, 2008 at 8:30 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

Actually, Dale, I did mention Ayers hosting a political event for Obama, though I didn't specifically say it was at his house. I thought that was assumed. But whatever the case, you're certainly entitled to debate whether someone's past associations - Obama with Ayers and the psycho preacher, or McCain with the S&L criminal - make them fit or unfit to serve. It's a sad fact in politics today that to get ahead in the "game," which is what it has become, you sometimes have to hitch your wagon to people you would rather keep at arm's length. Personally, with all the problems facing our country, I don't think Obama's association with Ayers back when he was first starting out in politics, or McCain's association with Keating back when he was first in Congress are at the forefront of things voters should be considering.

October 7, 2008 at 9:23 AM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

I guess the attacks become important when neither side is discussing the issues facing our country.

October 7, 2008 at 9:55 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Let's see. Senator Obama and William Ayers served together on a group called the Woods Fund, which is an anti-poverty foundation, from 2000-02. They also served on the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a large education-related nonprofit organization that Ayers was instrumental in starting. It really sounds like some nasty, evil doing went on there.

Also, I guess it's not possible to turn your life around. No one is allowed a second chance?

October 7, 2008 at 10:47 AM  
Blogger Dale Lolley said...

The bottom line is that it tells me some things about the guy's decision making. Maybe you don't have a problem with it. I do.
If it were one association, it could be overlooked. But Ayers and Wright are to the left of left. That's a problem in my book.
Let's put it this way, if McCain had ties to Timothy McVeigh, kicked off his political career at the guy's house, would you have a problem with it?

October 7, 2008 at 11:03 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

McVeigh killed a helluva lot more people than the Weather Underground, and he didn't do his crimes way back in the 1960s. The wounds are a bit fresher there. I mean, we could ask the elderly people who were bilked out of their life savings how they felt about McCain's dealings with Lincoln Savings. He admits it was a mistake. I don't hold it against him. I don't really care that he cheated on his first wife, who suffered through a horrific accident and held the family together while he was imprisoned in Vietnam, only to be unceremoniously dumped for a younger, better looking woman with a boatload of money. Some would say the Lincoln scandal and the handling of his first marriage reflect on McCain's decision-making. Frankly, that's water under the bridge to me. The issue here is that Obama and Ayers had a rather minimal relationship that Palin twisted into "palling around" with terrorists. She loses credibility when she resorts to this sort of exaggeration. Obama has repudiated Ayers' actions and the statements of his preacher. If those relationships are factors in your decision on whom to vote for, so be it. I just don't think any of it - whether it involves Obama or McCain - is very important as the country moves forward.

October 7, 2008 at 11:22 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

I think there are some differences between Timothy McVeigh and William Ayers. Timoty McVeigh was sentenced to death for the killing of 168 people. William Ayers has never killed a single person. I'm not defending the guy's terrible acts committed back in the 60s. All I'm saying is that he is no Timothy McVeigh.

McCain's record, when it comes to past associates, isn't so clean either. Do you question his decision making?

October 7, 2008 at 11:36 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

You beat me to it Brant. Sorry about my poor spelling of Timothy. Like you I don't care about these guys' pasts. As long as there is nothing major going on back then that the people should know about. Mountains out of mole hills is all it is.

October 7, 2008 at 11:41 AM  
Blogger Dale Lolley said...

The Senate Ethics Committee determined in 1991 that Alan Cranston, Dennis DeConcini, and Donald Riegle had substantially and improperly interfered with the FHLBB in its investigation of Lincoln Savings, with Cranston receiving a formal reprimand. Senators John Glenn and John McCain were cleared of having acted improperly but were criticized for having exercised "poor judgment".

Glenn, by the way, is an Obama advisor. So if Obama is going to go after McCain for his involvement, should he not disassociate himself with Glenn?

October 7, 2008 at 3:34 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

On Obama's decision making...

He is a US senator and currently leading the polls 4 weeks out of a presidential election...

I'd say he made one hell of a good decision in kicking off his political career at Bill Ayers' house...


October 7, 2008 at 3:49 PM  

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