He doesn't share the Rev. Wright's poisonous views of race nor Ayers's views, past and present, about the evil that is American society. But Obama clearly did not consider these views beyond the pale. For many years he swam easily and without protest in that fetid pond.
Until now. Today, on the threshold of the presidency, Obama concedes the odiousness of these associations, which is why he has severed them. But for the years in which he sat in Wright's pews and shared common purpose on boards with Ayers, Obama considered them a legitimate, indeed unremarkable, part of social discourse.
Do you? Obama is a man of first-class intellect and first-class temperament. But his character remains highly suspect. There is a difference between temperament and character. Equanimity is a virtue. Tolerance of the obscene is not.
Of course he faults McCain for not focusing on these ties earlier. In fact McCain decried efforts to tie Sen. Obama to his preacher of 20 years.
But that was months ago, at a time when Sen. McCain undoubtedly thought he could still earn the media's respect by keeping the tone of the campaign "civil." That was a miscalculation on two counts. Practically he disarmed himself (and his surrogates) from using a potent issue. Secondly, he figured that he'd still get the special treatment from the media that he was used to getting eight years ago. Where he miscalculated was that then he was running against a Republican; now he's running against a Democrat who's a lot closer to the media's views and who has their sympathy regardless of what Sen. McCain does.
George Will and Ross Douthat (via memeorandum) point out another weakness with the playing up the Wright/Ayers/Rezko connections: people's biggest concern now is the financial meltdown, how does this line of attack help McCain in this time of economic uncertainty?
It's a good question, and I wish I had an answer to it. However Hot Air indicates that this is likely to be a major line of attack for the McCain campaign.
What are they thinking? My best guess, would be Karl Rove's most recent column. Though the polls are all going Sen. Obama's way, there's one poll that isn't. Here's Rasmussen:
But, putting the debate performance in perspective, both men and women think McCain is better prepared to be president.
While men are evenly divided on whether Obama is prepared or not, 66% say the Republican is ready, but just 25% say he is not. Among women, 52% believe Obama is ready, while 56% believe McCain is. Thirty-eight percent (38%) of women voters do not believe the Democrat is prepared to be president, versus 31% who believe that of McCain.
Even 36% of likely Obama voters say McCain is prepared to be president, while just three percent (3%) of likely McCain voters believe Obama is ready.
In a survey in mid-September, 63% said McCain is prepared right now to be president, while 44% said the same of Obama. Forty-five percent (45%) said Obama wasn't ready to be in the White House.
Rasmussen's results show that its respondents thinks that Obama would handled the major issues of the day better than McCain would and yet more of them feel that McCain is ready to be president. That's pretty incredible.
And that's the approach that Rove takes:
Mr. Obama's test is that voters haven't shaken deep concerns about his lack of qualifications. Having accomplished virtually nothing in his three years in the Senate except to win the Democratic nomination, Mr. Obama must show he is up to the job. Voters like him, conditions favor him, yet he has not closed the sale. He may be approaching the finish line with that mixture of lassitude and insouciance he displayed in the spring against Mrs. Clinton.
But here's a warning sign for Mr. Obama. Of recent candidates, only Michael Dukakis in 1988 has had a larger percentage of voters tell pollsters they believe he lacks the necessary qualifications to be president.
If Sen. Obama's qualifications for president are being questioned, then attacks on his associations - and, by implication, on his character, would presumably strengthen those doubts. Maybe that's what the McCain camp is thinking. I suppose better late than never, but I can't help wondering if it isn't too late.
UPDATE: Riehl World View explains how he thinks it could work:
Bring Ol' Jerry I hates da white man Wright out on stage for the last two weeks of the campaign, while Obama's integrity and honesty have already been eroded, and it presents a problem he potentially can't solve. No one will believe he didn't hear that garbage for twenty-years, assuming they even believe that now. So, what does that do to the map?
The Red States will all but immediately come home to McCain and we'll be looking at a very typical Red State / Blue State election dynamic which isn't so bad for McCain. But it gets even better than that for McCain, which is why McCain is still playing so hard in Pennsylvania and in the Midwest. The states that rejected Obama for Hillary at the end of the Democrat Primary likely hold the key to this race.
via memeorandum.Posted by SoccerDad at October 10, 2008 1:38 AM