The Palin Amendment

From James Fallows, we have the 28th Amendment, to be filed under Wishful Thinking:

“No Person shall be elected President or Vice President without accepting a session of questioning by the press, such session to last no less than one hour and to be open to normally accredited members of the press in the same fashion as at Presidential news conferences. The questioning shall occur and the results shall be made freely available to the public at least one week before an Election is held.”

As great as it would be to have an amendment in the US Constitution to ensure that candidates for President and Vice President is scrutinized directly by the Fourth Estate, it would be a lot easier if presidential nominees simply picked running mates who were capable of holding a press conference and did not to be sequestered from the media to avoid politically damaging moments.

Inciting Violence Against Obama

The McCain campaign has puffed up its chest recently about its headfirst dive into the mud. Keith Olbermann’s Special Comment last night provides as concentrated a deconstruction of this strategy as I’ve seen in any medium.

Going beyond Palin’s role as a mud slinger, in the past few days rhetoric coming from McCain and Palin has lead to multiple instances where audience members volunteer that Obama is a “terrorist” and the response should be to “kill him,” Jeffrey Feldman takes a look at the consequences of the words Palin and McCain are using.

The ‘dangerous road,’ however, is not just a generic attack on Sen. Obama’s trustworthiness or honesty. Rather, the McCain campaign has chosen to stand before campaign rallies and accuse Sen. Obama of hiding sympathies with domestic terrorists–to accuse their opponent, essentially, of being a terrorist.

With the McCain campaign now using the Palin stump speech to accuse Sen. Obama of hiding a terrorist agenda, the McCain campaign has staked its future on rhetoric that skirts the boundary between character assassination and incitements of actual violence against their opponent.

Meanwhile, while McCain is not yet accusing Obama of terrorism in his own stump speech, the crowds at his rallies are.

In a recent video clip from MSNBC, McCain asked a rally, “Who is the real Barack Obama?” In response to McCain’s rhetorical question, a voice from the crowd can be clearly heard to shout in response, “Terrorist!” (link)

Since the start of the election campaign well over a year ago, voters have been subject to ongoing smear campaigns in emails and push polls accusing Sen. Obama of ties to and sympathies with domestic and foreign terrorist groups. No matter how many times these smear campaigns have been exposed, they continued. Now that John McCain and Sarah Palin have echoed these accusations–the idea that Sen. Obama is secretly a terrorist has the stamp of approval of a presidential campaign, but of a multi-term U.S. senator and a U.S. governor.

One wonders at this point how the various agencies charged with the responsibility of protecting the Presidential candidates from violence will respond to this latest tactic from the McCain campaign. If, for example, a McCain supporter threatens the life of Sen. Obama by shouting ‘Kill him!’ at a Palin rally, should Sen. Obama’s Secret Service contingent launch an investigation? Having been accused of terrorist ties by the McCain campaign, will Sen. Obama’s name be put on the ‘No Fly’ list, effectively making it impossible for him to engage in normal airline travel?

I don’t think it’s possible to understand how dangerous the line McCain and Palin are walking is, especially as Palin in particular deliberately crosses it. While free speech is protected in the Constitution, the Supreme Court has ruled that no protection exists for yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater. What we’re seeing from McCain-Palin is approaching such a situation. Words mean things and when we are a country in two wars — one in response to terrorism, the other marketed as a response to terrorism — the word “terrorist” is one of the most potent words, to be used in the most particular situations, grounded in fact. As McCain and Palin play the fear card, their diction speaks more to their reckless desperation than to any meaning connected to the words they use have to reality.

Naturally the Obama hatred hasn’t stopped today. Huffington Post has the details.

Keating Economics

Great job by the economy campaign. Their documentary on the Keating-McCain savings and loan scandal is insightful and informative. Most importantly, it’s accessible and succeeds at tying McCain’s actions on behalf of his friend and political contributor Charles Keating to McCain’s current failed approaches to the subprime mortgage crisis and economic troubles. I’m not sure how aware people are of McCain’s guilt in connection to the S&L scandal, but this should go a long way to increasing that awareness.

Watch the video then pass it along…

Also, Billmon’s take on the Keating-McCain scandal is instructive:

But I was around, and following congressional politics rather closely (by which I mean professionally) when McCain first popped up on the political radar screen in 1986 during the so-called Keating Five scandal. In exchange for various regulatory favors, Keating, a wealthy and politically, um, generous, S&L executive, turned himself into the special friend of a bipartisan group of sleazebag Senators, with five in particular, including McCain, reaping most of the benefits. By modern standards (i.e. Jack Abramoff’s and Ted Steven’s standards) it was actually pretty tame stuff, but it was considered a big deal at the time.)

In a sense, the scandal marked the birth of the McCain “brand,” because unlike the other four of the Five, he stood up in the Senate and more or less admitted he was guilty (not nearly as guilty as the others, he hastened to point out – but still, he felt bad about what he had done.) This went over really big with the media (“Senator admits guilt” outranking even man bites dog on the news-o-meter.)

Now, if you go back and look, you’ll see that if Keating didn’t comp McCain as generously and vigorously as he did the other four, it was probably because McCain was a very junior senator at the time, with relatively little influence to peddle. But it wasn’t because Honest John was shy about accepting the favors that were offered him. If John McCain had a problem with the way lobbying (i.e. legalized prostitution) was being done in Washington, you definitely won’t find it in the record of the Keating investigation. McCain’s fit of Puritan self-righteousness (or political calculation, depending on your view) came after the fact, once he’d already been caught. And yet, from that single Senate speech sprang the shoot that eventually grew into the sturdy tree of John McCain’s media image.

You have to admit it was a neat trick: Happily accepting the naughty goodies while they were being handed out, but then winning brownie points for admitting he took them – after the world had already found out he took them. But that’s precisely what McCain did. He’s never looked back since.

The lesson he learned, I think, is that pseudo-candor (truthiness) usually trumps the genuine article (McCain was way ahead of his time on this) And so he hasn’t hesitated to flip and flop shamelessly if (and these are the key points) it is in his interest and he thinks he can get away with it.

Now the Obama campaign is calling him on it. I think a full-scale reversal of public, documented history by the McCain campaign today will also lead the media to call McCain on it, too, especially as Obama turns up the heat on McCain on this issue.

“John McCain Has”

Steve Benen inadvertently writes the script to an ad I’d love to see the Obama campaign running.

Americans need to ask themselves if they’ve ever befriended a convicted felon who advised his supporters on how best to shoot federal officials in the head. John McCain has.

Americans need to ask themselves if they’ve ever used the money of a convicted criminal to help them buy their house. John McCain has.

Americans need to ask themselves if they’ve ever befriended a radical televangelist who has lashed out at the Roman Catholic Church, calling it, among other things, “the great whore” and “a false cult system.” John McCain has.

Americans need to ask themselves if they’ve ever sought economic advice from a far-right former lawmaker who “has diminished American solvency and power beyond the wildest dreams of anti-American terrorists.” John McCain has.

Americans need to ask themselves if they’ve ever befriended a radical televangelist who blamed the attacks of Sept. 11 on Americans. John McCain has.

The Obama campaign has made a big step forward in hitting McCain for his Senate-disciplined connections to and actions on behalf of Charles Keating.

Benen makes the case that both campaigns should put aside the tit-for-tat attacks, as both pols are equally vulnerable to this sort of hit. But that’s not precisely true. The McCain campaign is launching weak attacks on Obama in areas that he has more direct vulnerabilities.  McCain’s campaign isn’t going to stop launching these attacks and because Obama hasn’t taken the shots that were available to him until recently, these attacks have some salience in the media narrative on Obama’s vulnerabilities.

I’d love to see an issue oriented debate, but I think Steve and I both know it’s not going to happen. But as long as we’re playing in the muck, the Obama campaign’s new info site and video on McCain’s Keating 5 connections is a huge step in the right direction. And Benen has provided them with another ad script, if they care to use it.

One last thing on the new Keating 5 site. For a campaign that has shown itself tremendously competent in message discipline, internet strategies, and voter outreach, it is no shock that when they decide to throw a serious punch, it lands so soundly. Good job Team Obama.

McCain Out of Michigan

Jonathan Martin of Politico is reporting that John McCain is pulling out of Michigan.

I will now put forward what I believe is the least likely explanation of why McCain is pulling out of Michigan:

  1. Former Congressman and Edwards campaign manager David Bonior is from Michigan.
  2. Bonior was very public in expressing his disappointment in John Edwards following it was revealed he’d had an affair.
  3. Black hole magic step.
  4. McCain is pulling out of Michigan.

I challenge you to find a less likely explanation for why McCain is pulling out.

Better Off?

The DNC has put out their first ad of the 2008 cycle on John McCain and I think it’s a good one. It makes crystal clear how out of touch McCain is from the challenges Americans face now thanks to the failures of the Bush economy. I hope the DNC takes this ad and puts it on the air for a long, long time.

Another Creepy McCain Ad

Ezra Klein takes a look at another creepy, spinning, rambling web ad from the McCain campaign.

When his first trippy ad came out, I asked, “what sort of hallucinogens does the McCain campaign think we should be taking when we watch this ad?”

Judging from some of the multi-colored smoke effects in the first half of the new video, I would guess the answer to that question is some sort of special pink smoke-producing LSD laced marijuana.

McCain & Race

Color of Change has a thorough fact sheet of John McCain’s problematic stances on race and civil rights over his career.

On just about every issue, John McCain emerges as more of the same. His image and even his rhetoric do not match his record and his actions. The more people learn about the real John McCain, the better chance we have of defeating him this November.


McCain was booed in Memphis today during his speech on MLK. He also looked incredibly uncomfortable talking about King and his failures to support a federal holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ThinkProgress has the video.

McCain to Take Public Financing After All?

Jane has the details. No matter what happens with McCain and public financing in the general election, it should be clear that he is only considering it because he and his campaign know that the Democratic nominee will obliterate him in fund raising. Public financing is safe money for McCain, so he’ll do it. Taking public financing could not possibly considered as a moral statement by McCain about money and politics, other than to the extent that he wishes he had more of it.