I note with interest today, John McCain’s new tactic of associating Barack Obama with oversexed and/or promiscuous young white women. (See today’s new ad and this from yesterday.) Presumably, a la Harold Ford 2006, this will be one of those strategies that will be a matter of deep dispute during the campaign and later treated as transparent and obvious once the campaign is concluded.
But what I’m most interested in today is the new meme the McCain campaign has been pushing for the last few weeks that Obama is presumptuous, arrogant and well … just a bit uppity. Ron Fournier picked the ball up early in his reporting for the AP. And John King was pushing it over the weekend on CNN. Is it arrogant or above Obama’s station for him to meet with the Chairman of the Federal Reserve? If I’m not mistaken he is a sitting United States senator and also the presidential candidate of the Democratic party. Such meetings are actually the norm.
Now, I note that the Post, which has generally been in McCain’s camp, has a front page story today that comes about as close as they feel able to confirming that McCain campaign and McCain personally have spent most of the last week peddling what they knew was a lie about Obama’s called-off trip to the US military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany. And there’s also this piece in today’s Times noting ‘concern’ among some Republicans over McCain’s increasing use of personal attacks on Obama with what are often demonstrably false claims. How many demonstrable lies does the McCain campaign have to push before it colors the portrayal of his campaign?
As I alluded to at the top of this post, it is the norm that obvious campaign tactics that are treated as obvious after a campaign is over are nonetheless treated by most reporters as ambiguous or unclear during a campaign. But in this case it would be nice if that were not the case. Because here we have a candidate, John McCain, who is running on a record of straight talk and honorable campaigning running a campaign made up mainly of charges reporters are now more or less acknowledging are lies. But there’s precious little drawing together of the contradiction. What’s more, as everyone will acknowledge after the campaign, the McCain campaign is now pushing the caricature of Obama as a uppity young black man whose presumptuousness is displayed not only in taking on airs above his station but also in a taste for young white women.
So please keep an eye out for references to Obama’s presumptuousness, arrogance, etc., from John King and other reporters. Let us know when you see them and send us in examples — in text or video. McCain gets to run the campaign he wants. Remember, he hired the operative who put together the Ford/Bimbo ad. But I want to keep tabs on which reporters are helping him retail the message.