Saturday, August 23, 2008

Swift Boat ad against Obama could spell disaster for McCain

John McCain has said time and time again that he wants to run a respectable campaign, which is why he should denounce the new - and possibly illegal - Swift Boat attack ad against Obama,
Obama's campaign responded to the ad by sending a letter to the Justice Department charging that the backers are violating criminal law and urging an investigation.... "We urge and expect the Department of Justice to fulfill its commitment to take prompt, vigorous action to enforce against criminal violations of the campaign finance laws," [Obama attorney] Bauer wrote in his letter.

Separately, Obama's attorneys are demanding that television stations spike the spot. They say the ad is "demonstrably false" and labeled it a "crude, disreputable and malicious attempt to link Sen. Obama to domestic terrorist activities."
By now we should realize that John McCain didn't mean it when he said he wants to run a respectable campaign: if that was truly the case, he wouldn't be allowing surrogates like Texas billionaire Harold Simmons (yes, the same guy who helped pay for the Swift Boat ads that attacked Kerry's military record), to pour millions of dollars into a smear campaign like this.

But John McCain has already run ads trying to portray Obama as the anti-christ, and hired second Swift-boater to his campaign team, so why stop there?

Attack ad commits typical fallacies

Typical of such attacks, the ad focuses more on Ayers than Obama, as if by tearing down the straw man of Ayers, they could do the same with Obama.

But truth in advertising - or lack thereof - never stopped ads like this from being effective, and clearly that's what his group is counting on.

Furthermore, if Simmons has such a beef against Ayers, one has to wonder why he bothers including Obama in the message at all; Obama was a mere 6 years old when these crimes were committed by Ayers. Desperate for an attack? They must be if this is all they can find.

The ad tries to claim that because Ayers committed crimes, and Obama knows Ayers, that Obama is somehow tied to these crimes. This is a type of formal fallacy : Ayers is guilty of x. Obama knows Ayers. Therefore Obama is guilty of x.

But being illogical never stopped a smear campaign from running. It never stopped the Swift Boat attacks on John Kerry's record.

One could just as easily make an ad attacking McCain for being friends with Ralph Reed, who was caught scamming money from evangelical Christians with Jack Abramhoff. Should McCain be considered guilty because of his association with Reed? Actually if McCain continues to allow ads like this to run, he may find himself having to answer uncomfortable questions like this.

How it could come back to bite McCain

Barack Obama has shown he is not afraid to hit back hard if he is attacked. He won't be the one starting the fight, but he's certainly will not be afraid to finish it.

This is dangerous area for John McCain, because he's got real skeletons in his closet. McCain benefits at least as much as Obama from a smear-free campaign, but apparently McCain's republican masters don't know how to run any other kind of campaign: they only know how to run a dirty one.

Its too bad for John McCain, because when Obama hits back he might hit back hard. That means all John McCain's past sins are fair game, and John should be really worried about that because unlike Barack Obama, McCain's sins are well documented and real, not the kind of innuendo being used in the Ayers spot.

Does McCain's campaign team really want to see TV ads recounting episodes like his cheating on his wife, or being investigated by the Senate ethics committee for corruption as one of the Keating Five? American taxpayers lost billions, while the millionaire John McCain reaped the rewards. Does McCain really want America to be reminded of this shameful past?

McCain's shady past makes it all the more bizarre they would "go there" with Swift boat style attacks: do they think Obama won't hit back? If there is one thing Democrats learned since Kerry lost and Howard Dean took over the DNC, its that we won't back down from a fight.

The alternative is that McCain's campaign truly didn't know about the Simmons swift boat attack against Obama - in which case, if John McCain wants to avoid a can of whoop-ass being opened on him by Obama, he should be the gentleman he portrays himself as and condemn both Simmons and the vile ad he created.

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