Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Accusing a fellow American of palling around with terrorists: The worst thing about Sen. McCain's campaign

Dear Sen. McCain,

Either your opponent is a terrorist sympathizer, or he is not. There is no middle ground on this issue. If the accusation has truth, you should illuminate it. If it doesn't, you should drop it immediately. If you remain in the middle, you are participating in the character assassination of a fellow American.

On the National Review website yesterday, the conservative commentator David Frum made a very important point about marketing and campaigning: truth matters. About the Ayers-Obama-terrorist-link currently being pushed by the National Review blog ('The Corner'), Mr. Frum wrote:

My pals over at the Corner are very excited by the last-minute attempt to transform Bill Ayers into the Willie Horton of 2008. Well, good luck.

In 1988, crime was a huge and rising problem - and Democrats still by and large resisted the effective crime control policies being developed at places like the Manhattan Institute and that would achieve such great results in the 1990s. So Willie Horton, the furloughed rapist and murderer, symbolized in very graphic terms something important and significant about Michael Dukakis the candidate.

But Bill Ayers? Does anybody really seriously believe that Barack Obama is a secret left-wing radical? And if not, then what is this fuss and fury supposed to show? It's like Ronald Reagan's opponents trying to beat him by pointing out that Birchers once supported him.

Negative campaigning only works when it offers a new data point to support a convincingly drawn hostile image.

Mr. Frum is correct. The past few days we've heard Sarah Palin and other people on the McCain side -- like Sean Hannity -- tell us over and over that Obama pals around with terrorists and is an America-hating racist.

If that is true, shouldn't Sen. McCain have mentioned that to the American people during the debate last night? By not saying anything about it, does that make Sen. McCain a terrorist sympathizer?

But let's be real. Sen. Obama is either a terrorist sympathizer, or he is not. If he is, that is a truly relevant issue for Sen. McCain to bring up. In fact, he has a responsibility to bring it up. If Sen. Obama is not a terrorist sympathizer, then why is Gov. Palin saying that he is?

Are they lying about the terrorist connection?

Or is Sen. McCain too afraid to say the dirt to his opponent's face and directly to the American people?

Sen. McCain is in serious jeopardy of destroying the honor and respect he once held. He either needs to discuss the terrorist connections himself, and tell Americans why it matters, or he needs to tell his people to drop it. This in-between is destroying his campaign's credibility.

Who oh who is running the McCain circus?

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