McCain Goes Negative, and Dirty

The New York Times reports that some are concerned that as John McCain goes negative he might lose the support of some potential supporters:

The old happy warrior side of Mr. McCain has been eclipsed a bit lately by a much more aggressive, and more negative, Mr. McCain who hammers Mr. Obama repeatedly on policy differences, experience and trustworthiness.

By doing so, Mr. McCain is clearly trying to sow doubts about his younger opponent, and bring him down a peg or two. But some Republicans worry that by going negative so early, and initiating so many of the attacks himself rather than leaving them to others, Mr. McCain risks coming across as angry or partisan in a way that could turn off some independents who have been attracted by his calls for respectful campaigning.

The drumbeat of attacks could also undermine his argument that he will champion a new brand of politics

McCain’s new campaign strategy also risks undermining McCain’s reputation as a straight talker as the negative attacks have become increasingly dishonest. This was seen in his recent ad following Obama’s Iraq visit. McCain commonly suggests that a major difference between himself and Obama is that he would lower taxes while Obama would raise them. As an independent study has demonstrated, the only taxpayers facing significantly higher taxes under Ohama are the top one tenth of one-percent as the Bush tax breaks to these people are ended. Factcheck.org and others have noted multiple untrue statements in McCain’s attacks on taxes.

Another difference McCain has been distorting recently is over health care policy. McCain distorts Obama’s position when he erroneously describes it as government taking over health care. He fails to note that Obama’s plan would continue the current system of private insurance. McCain also fails to mention how his plan would reduce coverage from private insurance and leave individuals responsible for a greater proportion of their health care expenses. While Republicans regularly use scare tactics on Democratic health care proposals, those who are currently insured and desire to keep this coverage should vote Democratic and help stop McCain’s plan. Of course those without health insurance are far better off backing Obama’s plan.

I was happy to see The New York Times make an issue out of McCain going negative. Unfortunately the article does not go far enough in reporting how McCain’s campaign has not only become negative but has become outright dishonest. They also draw the wrong conclusion from observing Hillary Clinton’s campaign if they believe such tactics will work. Clinton used similar dishonest tactics ever since she found that Obama was challenging her for the nomination. Her use of such tactics repeatedly backfired, providing voters with more reason to support Obama in response. Those who campaign as dishonestly as Clinton, and now McCain, are bound to govern n such a manner. Just as Democratic primary voters realized this and supported Obama, many independent and swing voters will do the same in response to McCain joining Clinton on the low road.

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2 Comments

  1. 1
    Jerry says:

    McCain’s vector has bothered me very much over the last few days. Obama really, really needs to call him on it. If he doesn’t, he’ll be swiftboated, but if he does he can point out how dishonest “Honest John” has become. We’ve had enough presidents making things up about their enemies so they can be attacked, thank you!
    Obama needs to pick one example. The meme that Obama’s cancelation of his troop visit would be a great one, because it has so many facets, each showing the Rovian approach (i.e. lie until it hurts then blame someone else).
    Obama could get affidavits or statements from every one of his press corps to prove that his version is correct. Paint John with the brush he’s handed you, Barak: it’s a gift. Here are some suggestions. After pointing out all of the inaccuracies:
    “This goes well beyond the normal cruft generated by third parties. John McCain himself endorsed this ad and repeated the charges on national television… personally.”
    “I thought I knew John McCain. I thought he was an honest man… I thought I knew at least that much about him.”
    “I would like to point out that I tried to avoid bringing our wounded soldiers into this. It was John McCain who decided that they made a pretty good political football.”
    “You of the press corps: I don’t mean to tell you how to do your jobs. I really don’t. But, please, when you quote anything that’s been debunked, please include the correction in your reporting. All I can do is ask and hope that you’ll do the right thing.”

  2. 2
    Jerry says:

    One more thing:
    “Pretend for a moment that a President McCain has decided to attack Iran and needs public support. Do you really want another president who finds it so easy to manufacture reasons to attack? Or would you rather have the facts, laid out clearly and honestly?  And a calmer finger on the trigger that can start the next war?”

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