Friday, October 17, 2008

Thursday talk radio update

Sean Hannity couldn't understand why his essentially nonstop efforts to put Barack Obama in bed with William Ayers weren't taking hold. He seemed bewildered by this.

But it isn't hard to understand. For one thing, despite his extraordinary efforts, neither Hannity nor any of his confederates has succeeded in establishing any strong tie between Obama and Ayers. I'm sure I'm not the only guy who has served on boards without asking any questions about the backgrounds of my fellow board members. They may all have been child rapists, for all I know.

For another, once a guy like Ayers is loose in society, what's the best way to deal with him? You can't lock him up because the government bungled the case. You could try to make a permanent pariah out of him, but what would that accomplish other than reinforce the notion that violence is the only way for him to deal with a society he dislikes? Why not get some useful work out of him -- which requires that somebody hire him and that other people work with him and maybe even shake his hand once or twice. From Obama's point of view, what's more important: helping reform schools or risking a taint on his political career?

But the real reason Ayers hasn't worked as a political tactic is because of a point I have argued before: This sort of thing works only to the extent that it reinforces existing public perceptions about the candidate involved. The "potatoe" gaffe was devastating for Dan Quayle because people already had decided he wasn't very smart. Once Gerald Ford got a reputation as an awkward fellow, every head bump made the news. When it looked like George H.W. Bush had never seen a checkout scanner before, it fed the perception that he was an out-of-touch elitist.

But not even Hannity has ever been able to uncover a single word that Obama has said that makes him sound sympathetic to terrorists. People just aren't buying it. And every presidential debate has helped establish that Obama is a sane, rational, pragmatic and careful politician. It just isn't credible that he would rather be building bombs.

For the same reason, attempts to link John McCain to G. Gordon Liddy won't go anywhere either, other than to further neutralize the Ayers attack. Liddy is an unrepentant felon, who arguably did more to hurt the country than Ayers ever did, and McCain's ties to Liddy are at least as tight as Obama's to Ayers. But nobody thinks John McCain is G. Gordon Liddy. It just doesn't matter.

Still, it was pretty entertaining to watch Chris Matthews on "Hardball" last night trying to get a McCain spokesman to admit that Sarah Palin has been attacking Obama's patriotism by suggesting that he finds America "imperfect" enough that he pals around with terrorists. The spokesman kept saying that the issue was not Obama's patriotism but his judgment. Matthews kept insisting that he admit the obvious: The attack was on his patriotism.

I wish I had counted how many times Matthews asked the question. I wish he had asked it a hundred times. The spokesman never gave in, but everybody watching knew he was lying.


Jay Larry Lundeen said...

I wish I had a buck for every time Chris Matthews revealed his obvious bias for Obama. But never mind that; you're right about Hannity making a no-go effort concerning Ayers. And why you always make such an issue over this is baffling. . . And pointless.

Interesting how the mainstream press has put a microscope on Joe the Plumber for anti-Obama statements but won't even glance in Ayers direction. Such journalistic standards.

Anonymous said...

As we roll around towards election day, people are thinking hard about making a risky choice - a black man for president. The Ayers attack is meant to chip away at the foundation, to help voters shy away from Obama on election day. These people know what they are doing.

I think you're a tad idealistic here.

Chuck Rightmire said...

The real issue here is that the Republicans expect the big lie to continue, as it has in the past eight years, to twist the election results. People who say both parties play the negative in equal parts just haven't watched the McBush, the Weasel, and the Fox ads at work. Obama has responded to the Ayers charges. He did so in the final debate and in things I've seen on tv since. Since I lived through those days older than the youngsters, I think I pretty well understood what was going on. The Vietnam war was a fustercluck of the first water which we supposedly lost in the trenches but actually won on the political level, at least as far as our avowed goal of containment. The Communists went to farther in the Far East. But by disregarding the time the GOP is lying to us about Ayers. The big lie seems to be working with some people but I can understand Hannity being confused; isn't he always? And as for BIG LIES other than Ayers lets talk about the spoiled brat who might not have gotten out of Annapolis fifth from the bottom of the class if he hadn't had two admirals in his lineage, or about how he doesn't have any more administrative experience, maybe less, than Obama, since his biography does not list any administrative positions. Remember, the President is also the administrator in charge of the Administration.

Dave Rye said...

Still a "spoiled brat" after five years in the Hanoi Hilton, huh?

For that matter, getting through the Naval Academy as the "goat" (dead last) of the class is still a major achievement.

Are YOU the same person you were at 22, Chuck?

Chuck Rightmire said...

Dave: No, but I don't claim to have experience that I don't have either. He's trying to ride on what he was at 23 and after his time in Hanoi. He doesn't have any more of the necessary experience in the job than his opponent. He also indicates he came from a less than perfect childhood. Who didn't? His is better than that of a whole lot of folks. And George Bush isn't today who he was at 23 either, or at 40, and he didn't turn out well at all when he got into the hot seat.

Steve T. said...

The most important thing about the Ayers attack is that it allows the McCain campaign to use the words "Obama" and "Terrorist" in the same sentence. That's always been the intention. The racial undertones are unmistakable.

Dave Rye said...

Oh, hell, if you're a liberal and anybody disagrees with Obama about anything, the racial undertones will allegedly be unmistakable.

Anonymous said...

If Pallin wanted to say Obama is unpatriotic why wouldn't she just say it -- why choose such a torturous route? All through the campain it's not so much what others have said about Obama and his patriotism, which really doesn't mean much to me usually, except for Obama's statements in his book, which raises a question about it. What bothers me about the challenges which were quite direct in the primaries from people other than Pallin, is the fact that Obama really did nothing to counter them, when he could have made a dramatic and probably very politically positive response and quelled them for good. I can envision that as being something like (early in the cmpaigning) walking out onto the stage with a gigantic American flag in the background, with the music blaring "God Bless America " or something, saluting the flag and then turning to the audience and saying "I love America." The audience would have laughed in appreciation of the point, roared in applause, and Obama would have made a statement that any president of the US should be able to make, without blinking an eye, but which seems painful for Obama. I think he rather recently, finally, tepidly said "I love America." I think he makes it an issue by what he doesn't do, and it is very disconcerting that that should be the case.
About giving Ayers a respectable place in society -- would that have been the better approach in dealing with Timothy McVey, do you think. From what you all say we really should have given McVey a fat salary, set him up in a teaching post at a high-brow university, shook his hand and patted him occassionally on the back, and he would probably never have killed again. Wow, I never thought of that as an arguement against the death penalty. And, are you saying that you wouldn't have raised an eye brow at serving on a board with McVey? Let by-gones be by-gones. So maybe thinking like this makes me a radical right winger(which I'm not), but what I mostly am is stunned at the reach leftists go to excuse the inexcuseable, and I'm rather insulted that they think that a rational ethical person will swallow it.

David said...

Anonymous 946,
Big difference: Timothy McVeigh was convicted and (quite properly) executed for his crimes. Ayers may have deserved the same fate, but that's not what happened. Like it or not, he's out on the streets. My point is: When that is going to be the case no matter what, why doesn't make sense to get something useful out of him?