McCain Takes The Low Road With Dishonest Attack Ad


Back in 1963 there was hope that the anticipated race between John Kennedy and Barry Goldwater would take the high road with the two debating the issues as opposed to resorting to personal attacks. That hope ended when Kennedy was assassinated. Lyndon Johnson, who undoubtedly could have won without resorting to such tactics, became the nominee and took the low road, such as with the Daisy Ad. This year we had hopes that Barack Obama and John McCain might engage in a clean campaign on the issues. Instead John McCain has decided to take the low road, such as with the dishonest ad posted above. The text reads:

“Barack Obama never held a single Senate hearing on Afghanistan,” the ad’s announcer says. “He hadn’t been to Iraq in years. He voted against funding our troops. And now, he made time to go to the gym, but cancelled a visit with wounded troops. Seems the Pentagon wouldn’t allow him to bring cameras. John McCain is always there for our troops. McCain: Country first.” It concludes with the candidate’s voice: “I’m John McCain and I approve this message.”

The number of lies and distortions which are crammed into such a brief ad is amazing. Joe Biden has already debunked the statement on Afghanistan. McCain himself voted against the funding measure which he has repeatedly attacked Obama for voting against. He also voted against other legislation to provide funding for the troops:

Moreover, McCain has voted against other legislation funding care for veterans. On April 26, 2006, McCain voted against an amendment by Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) that would have “provide[d] an additional $430,000,000 for the Department of Veteran Affairs for Medical Services for outpatient care and treatment for veterans.” In addition, on March 14, 2006, McCain voted against “increas[ing] Veterans medical services funding by $1.5 billion in FY 2007 to be paid for by closing corporate tax loopholes.” On March 10, 2004, McCain also voted against “creat[ing] a reserve fund to allow for an increase in Veterans’ medical care by $1.8 billion by eliminating tax loopholes.” Obama voted for the first two measures; he had not yet entered the Senate when the third vote was cast.

Looking further at the ad, the claim that Obama did not visit the troops because he could not bring cameras is also a lie. The Pentagon has confirmed that the visit was canceled because of Department of Defense rules against candidates visiting with campaign staff. After being informed of this by the Pentagon, Obama felt it was inappropriate to go as part of a campaign trip. Obama had planned to make this visit without the press and without cameras, contrary to McCain’s false claims. Andrea Mitchell also verified this in her report:


The willingness of McCain to distort the truth, or perhaps the incompetence of their ads, can be seen in the claim that Obama “made time to go to the gym.” As can be seen in the video above, Obama’s trip to the gym was actually a visit with American troops serving in Kuwait:


If one wanted to make a satire of dirty campaign ads, you couldn’t do a better job than in this real McCain ad when he is saying an opponent  made time to go to the gym instead of visiting the troops, when the trip to the gym was actually a visit with the troops.

Steve Benen points out that John McCain isn’t even telling in truth when he claims he “is always there for our troops.” He has not been there for them when it has been time to support their health benefits.

During the primary campaign Obama typically turned negative and dishonest attacks against him from the Clinton campaign to his advantage. This often included an ad responding to Clinton attack ads, and I am anxious to see if Obama does the same in response to this dishonest ad from John McCain.

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