Saturday, August 23, 2008
Attack ads show wisdom of Obama position on campaign financing
I've been disappointed with a number of positions Barack Obama has taken over the past months, but the controversy over Obama's opting out of public financing for his presidential campaign left me yawning widely. Now the wisdom of his decision, and his rationale for it, is more clear than ever. The New York Times today (on page A14, unfortunately) reports that billionaire Harold Simmons donated $2.9 million to the "conservative" American Issues Project on August 12, and now that organization has committeed $2.8 million to run the above ad linking Obama with former Weatherperson William Ayers. Simmons previously donated $2 million to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, whose attack ads against John Kerry in 2004 were just as dishonest as this new ad against Obama.
Obama and his campaign staff clearly saw the folly of restricting their campaign spending, despite the huge amount of money they have raised, leaving McCain and his supporters free to finance millions of dollars in attack ads while playing innocent (note, in the Times article, the clear ties between the American Issues Project and the McCain campaign, despite various denials.) What I would like to see now is the Obama campaign get down and dirty with McCain, with a series of attack ads of its own--the one difference being that all the campaign has to do is tell the truth about McCain. No lying, no distortions needed.
PS--I think Biden was a good choice. More on that soon, that is, if I feel I have anything original or unusual to say about it. The blogosphere is a crowded place!
Important Update (August 27): The New York Times reports that the Obama campaign is taking an aggressive stance against this ad, including challenging its legality. That's better than Kerry's ineffectual and tardy defense against the Swift-boat attacks. Simmons is clearly acting as an agent of the McCain campaign, since he is one of its major fundraisers.
Even progressives can get it wrong department: Jay Rosen at PressThink busts Mother Jones magazine for supposedly busting Obama for hyping his historical role. An interesting read.
Afghan civilian deaths: The New York Times sees fit to print on page A6 of its August 24 edition the news that Afghan president Hamid Karzai is putting the number of civilian deaths in a U.S. airstrike at up to 95. I would urge readers to peruse this particular article carefully, because between the lines it is easy to see the callousness and disregard for human life with which the "coalition" is mounting its operations in Afghanistan. Karzai has protested these civilian deaths time after time with little effect, making his leadership of the country a joke and the future of the military campaign there a looming quagmire for either President Obama or President McCain.