McCain Aide Suspended For Anti-Obama Video

This wasn’t the best of weeks for John McCain. He had a fairly major gaffe regarding Iraq as well as a less consequential one comparing Purim to Halloween. There was one hopeful sign when an adviser called the Christian right a serious problem. There was a second hopeful sign today when a staffer was suspended for a video attacking Obama:

A McCain campaign aide actively pushed an incendiary, racially-charged video that uses the controversial words of Barack Obama’s pastor to tar Obama as unpatriotic — despite the fact that McCain himself has suggested that Obama shouldn’t be held accountable for Wright’s views.

The aide, Soren Dayton, who works in McCain’s political department, has been suspended from the campaign, a McCain spokesperson, Jill Hazelbaker, confimed to me.

The move by McCain’s aide could create controversy for the McCain camp, because the video itself is thoroughly reprehensible — it interweaves footage of Obama explaining why he won’t wear the American flag pin, Wright saying “God damn America,” Malcolm X, and Obama’s wife saying that his candidacy has made her proud of America for the “first time.”

That McCain’s campaign aide spread this runs directly counter to what McCain himself has said about the Wright controversy. He suggested in a recent interview that Obama shouldn’t be held liable for his pastor’s views, and a top aide to McCain, Charlie Black, also recently suggested that McCain didn’t believe in trafficking in such stuff.

There is also more on this at The Politico. Hopefully this is a sign that a campaign between Obama and McCain will concentrate on the issues as opposed to the types of attacks we’ve seen from the right in recent years and from Hillary Clinton this year. McCain spokesperson Jill Hazelbaker also released this statement:

“We have been very clear on the type of campaign we intend to run and this staffer acted in violation of our policy. He has been reprimanded by campaign leadership and suspended from the campaign.”

Needless to say, there is some skepticism being expressed on many liberal blogs regarding the McCain campaign. For example, Oliver Willis warns:

The base impulse of the modern conservative movement – especially the blogosphere and talk radio contingents – is to always appeal to base elements. Racism, sexism, smearing opponents as the worst things possible, they come as easy to the right as breathing. Dayton just made the mistake of getting caught in public. Don’t think the campaign and the party aren’t doing the same or worse behind closed doors.

Oliver may very well be right, but I think it is best commend the McCain campaign or any expressions of a desire to run a clean and honorable campaign, as well as to be ready to point it out should they fail to maintain these standards.

The Rise of the Machines


Danger Will Robinson! The video above is of BigDog, a robot made by Boston Dynamics and funded by the Defense Advanced Research Products Agency. Haven’t these people ever watched any of the Terminator movies, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, or Battlestar Galactica? One day they are fighting for us, and the next day Skynet might begin to wage war on humanity, or we might be subjected to a sneak attack by Cylons.

McCain Adviser Calls Christian Right a Serious Problem

John McCain has had mixed relations with the religious right. He’s forced to pander them for votes, but deep down he probably does not like them any more than he did in 2000 when he said “Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton on the left, or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right.”

We saw another example of the conflict between the McCain campaign and the religious right when McCain adviser Lawrence Eagleburgerg said the following before the United Jewish Communities (video here):

“On the Christian hard right, I live in Charlottesville now and I can’t tell you I’m surrounded by it,” Eagleburger said. “I must tell you we fought it there, fought hard against it. There’s no question that in the Republican Party it is a serious problem…Among the hard-right conservatives in the Republican Party John McCain was, shall we say, less than enthusiastically received…What you see is what you get. You are not going to see him moving to assuage the concerns of these conservatives.

“The issues that have concerned the far right I don’t see and I don’t expect to see any changes. I know there will be some people in his entourage who will want to advocate for those changes, and again, I don’t believe he will shift on those fundamental issues. For example, on abortion, he’s clear, he’s opposed. On one of the issues that upsets the far right, stem cell research, he is prepared to accept some of that, and that’s something that upsets the far right. I could go on with these issues.”

Of course it is not difficult for a Republican to bash the religious right when speaking before the United Jewish Communities. I do wish that he had provided more issues where McCain disagrees considering that McCain does agree with them on abortion. The reception also might have been different if McCain, or a surrogate, had repeated McCain’s belief that the United States was founded as a Christian nation.