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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Approved Messages

John McCain did two noteworthy things in last night’s aggressively low-key Forum on Service event. First, as Steve Benen at Political Animal points out, McCain rediscovered a national service proposal that he had somehow lost during the last few years. It’s no mystery: most conservative activists (with some honorable exceptions like the late William F. Buckley, Jr.) hate the idea of government-enabled non-military service, either on ideological grounds, or because they identify it (and particularly the AmeriCorps program that McCain’s now praising) with Bill Clinton. Now that conservatives have been definitively propitiated by the selection of Sarah Palin as McCain’s running-mate, it’s apparenly safe for him to indulge in a few of his old heresies, however mildly.
More strikingly, McCain expressed all sorts of admiration for “community organizers”–you know, those useless busy-bodies and agitators that drew so much mockery at the recently-concluded Republican National Convention. McCain deflected his running-mate’s derisive dismissal of community organizers as reflecting an understandably defensive attitude towards criticism of her own experience as mayor of a very small town. This does not, of course, offer much of an excuse for Rudy Giuliani’s nasty, sneering references to community organizers in his “keynote” address the same night as Palin’s speech.
The idea, of course, that McCain can shrug off attacks on Obama and his background made at the RNC as something he had nothing to do with is an insult to anybody who understands how modern party conventions work. His campaign controlled every word said from the podium. And in the extremely unlikely event that Giuliani or Palin somehow ad libbed the remarkalby well-coordinated sneers about community organizers, McCain didn’t have to wait more than a week to make it clear he didn’t agree.
There’s plenty of grounds for suspicion that we’re seeing a pattern here of McCain pretending to take the high road while his surrogates and campaign take the low road. At least with his nasty series of recent attack ads, he’s been forced by law to “approve the message” explicitly. But make no mistake, he’s approved every message, implicitly or explicitly, uttered in his name.

3 comments on “Approved Messages

  1. ThinkingGuy on

    Because, in the end, he cannot. Oh he has tried, far to late, to hit back with the nastiness and the potency that the cattle, (that is to say, the American people) like…but it does not appear to be enough.
    People still advocate going after the “intelligent” voters in the middle…of those in the middle were intelligent, we would not have to go after them. Those in the middle are like the rest of this dying nation…sad, pathetic, Jesus freak low lifes who are afraid of voting for a black man, and will follow a dithering old coward and his MILF homophobe beauty queen into hell.
    Which, is where we are all going anyway.
    Only we Democrats could have blown this thing…and we just did. God do I weary of being a partof a losing, weak willed party.

  2. Brian Gaerity on

    All true, and good to note for the historical record. But in terms of affecting voters at this stage of the election, it’s just playing to the refs. Undecided or lukewarm voters aren’t interested in studying every utterance and looking for contradictions — that takes too much energy. They’re looking for the either the “deal breaker” or the “deal cincher,” something to close the sale one way or the other. They’re trolling for that one crucial impression or piece of information to complete their picture of the candidates. To that end, Obama’s best option is to stay on his game and not get rattled by all the Palindrama.


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