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Saturday, October 4

Guilt by Association

According to most polls and a growing number of GOP strategists and insiders (all of whom are talking under cover of anonymity - no sense in shitting in your own rice bowl, nicht wahr?) the tide has turned and is running against the McCain/Palin ticket, with awful implications for the Senatorial and House races across the country.

It's gotten so bad and McCain has funneled so much money into areas that he must carry that he reportedly pulled his operation out of Michigan. This move was protested by Governor Palin and, apparently, by the GOP national office, who is supposed to be stepping in to help the Republican representatives running for re-election in that state.

But from states like Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio, the picture is growing clearer. And it's not pretty if you're John McCain or Sarah Palin.

So what do you?

Go negative, that's what. As fast and as hard as you possibly can, and damn the early promises of running a clean and honorable campaign. It's a strategy of desperation.

The latest spate of negative ads rehashes old canards, notably Obama's association (however brief) with a certain Mr. Bill Ayers, who was a member of the Weather Underground in the 1960s. The Weathermen were an antiwar domestic terrorist group, plain and simple, and Ayers, far older now, is still not completely repentant about his role in their activities. Obama served on a community action board or some such with Ayers, and they may have actually met briefly a few times. That is, in itself, sufficient to tar Obama with "palling around with terrorists," as Gov. Palin put it so colorfully today.

Another canard that has been thrown out before was that Obama was receiving economic advice from two executives with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac before the economic crisis broke. The trumpeting by the GOP quickly dimmed, however, when both of the executives in question stated publicly that they gave no such advice.

Now, while rehashing old and discredited arguments and throwing out more and more expensive ads based on those tired canards may sway a few, it may not shift enough undecided or independent voters away from Obama to make much of a difference. There are only thirty-one days remaining in the Campaign of 2008 (you may now take a moment to thank the deity of your choice), and barring any new crises or a major mistake by the Obama/Biden campaign the negative ad blitz by McCain may be too late.

The added danger to this line of attack is that it can turn independents off, so that they vote for Obama out of spite. The Obama campaign can also flip the arguments back at McCain, reminding him that he pledged to run a clean and honorable race without flinging excrement.

Besides, if he wants to tar people by association, an ad can simply be run allying McCain to Charles Keating and the Lincoln Savings and Loan, or tying him to Jack Abramoff, or bringing up his womanizing and gambling (as depicted in a very incisive Rolling Stone article).

Negative campaigning is a knife that cuts both ways, you see. A campaign can be run without resorting to variations of the Lyndon Johnson Pig-lover Story.*

*(The story is told that Johnson, running for a local office in Texas, was lagging behind in the race and told his campaign manager to quietly spread the rumor that the opponent was fornicating with his barnyard sows. When the manager protested that it wasn't true, Johnson simply said, "I know that. But let's make the sonofabitch deny it.")

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