Attack ads on Obama in NC generate controversy, outrage

There is an emerging storm brewing between the Obama campaign, the national GOP, and John McCain against the North Carolina GOP over an ad the NCGOP created that includes snippets of Obama’s “former” pastor Jeremiah Wright’s “sermons.” Here’s the ad:

As the ad notes, both Democrat candidates for governor, Bev Perdue and Richard Moore (who have been trying to outliberal each other for months on the campaign trail), have endorsed Barack Obama. The intent of the ad is to imply guilt by association: Obama showed extremely poor judgment by silently sitting in the pews of TUCC while Rev. Wright spewed his venom, and Perdue and Moore are showing poor judgment by in turn endorsing the guy with poor judgment.

Next month’s NC primary, of course, isn’t just about the presidential race, but about the governor’s race here as well as other local elections, so the only reason I can think of for the NC GOP to run this ad is in order to raise campaign funds for the general election, because Perdue and Moore have been doing a good job of tearing each other up pre-primary, and the NC GOP has no reason to interfere prior to the primary beyond trying to raise much-needed campaign cash. I don’t have the problem with the ad that others like, unfortunately, John McCain and the national GOP, do. From McCain:

Dear Chairman Daves,

From the beginning of this election, I have been committed to running a respectful campaign based upon an honest debate about the great issues confronting America today. I expect all state parties to do so as well. The television advertisement you are planning to air degrades our civics and distracts us from the very real differences we have with the Democrats. In the strongest terms, I implore you to not run this advertisement.

This ad does not live up to the very high standards we should hold ourselves to in this campaign. We need to run a campaign that is worthy of the people we seek to serve. There is no doubt that we will draw sharp contrasts with the Democrats on fundamental issues critical to the future course of our country. But we need not engage in political tactics that only seek to divide the American people.

Once again, it is imperative that you withdraw this offensive advertisement.

John McCain

Asked today about the ad, Obama relied on John McCain to motivate the state GOP to not run the ad:

“My understanding is that the Republican National Committee and John McCain have both said that the ad’s inappropriate,” he replied, according to The Associated Press.

“I take them at their word,” Obama said, “and I assume that if John McCain thinks that it’s an inappropriate ad, that he can get them to pull it down since he’s their nominee and standard-bearer.”

In other words, he finds the ad ‘offensive’, too – remember, he wants us all to move beyond Rev. Wright anyway, because his “former” pastor is just being used as a ‘distraction.’

And back to McCain, interestingly enough, he finds it perfectly acceptable to go after Obama on his ties to Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers – but Rev. Wright should be off limits? I think not.

From the national GOP:

“Senator McCain has been very clear that he expects to run a respectful campaign based on the critical issues confronting the nation. The RNC has been in contact with the NC GOP and communicated that we do not believe the ad is appropriate or helpful and have asked that they refrain from running it”

In spite of the pleas to not run the ad, the NC GOP is saying they will. But they’re not sure how much they will run it, considering there is not any “real money” behind the ad now. You can help on that front here.

It appears from the tone of the letters that they are treating the NC GOP the way they did the TN GOP for their use of Obama’s middle name and a 2006 photo of him in Somali garb in a news release. I can understand why they came down on the TN GOP because, as I’ve written before, there are plenty of issues to go after Obama on without trying to paint him as a closet jihadi, especially considering there is nothing in his record that would indicate any latent pro-Islamofascism tendencies on his part.

On the other hand, contrary to what McCain and the national GOP have said about the NC ad supposedly being ‘offensive’ and not focused on the issues because it mentions Rev. Wright, Obama’s judgment is an issue, an important one, and everyone needs to keep in mind that the man who has claimed he can help bridge the racial divide is the same man who sat in the pews at TUCC for two decades and said nothing while his “former” pastor – and admitted “spiritual mentor” – spat out racist bile that would get a GOP candidate kicked out of any campaign he or she was in the middle of without hesitation if they had had the same type of long term mentorship with a white reverend “preaching” similar nonsense about white supremacy. It simply wouldn’t be tolerated – nor should it.

Sadly, others, like The Politico’s Jonathan Martin, imply that the ad has racist undertones because it features a picture of Obama with his arm around Perdue, who is white (which will, incidentally, remind Democrat partisans and NC voters of the infamous “white hands” ad Senator Jesse Helms ran against Mayor Harvey Gantt in their 1990 campaign against each other). If you look hard enough to see something that’s not there, eventually you’ll see what you want to see – just ask Obama cultist and MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews.

That said, the only issue I have with the NC GOP ad is that towards the end of it it labels Obama as “too extreme.” When I think of extremists I think of the likes of Michael Moore, Cindy Sheehan, Al Sharpton, and those like them who don’t have a lick of common sense between ’em. Obama is clearly a liberal with Socialistic tendencies, to be sure, but “extremist”? No.

Another ad that is generating controversy is one that Time magazine is calling another “Willie Horton”-style GOP attack:

An old right-wing attack dog has returned with a new target: Barack Obama.

Starting Tuesday, a group of conservative activists led by Floyd Brown, author of the famous Willie Horton ad used so effectively against Michael Dukakis in 1988, will begin a campaign to tar Obama as weak on crime and terrorism, a strategy that aims to upend Obama’s relatively strong reputation among Republican voters.

“The campaign by Hillary Clinton has not been able to raise Obama’s negatives,” said Brown on Monday. “It is absolutely critical that Obama’s negatives go up with Republicans.”

Brown says the initial effort, a 60-second spot called “Victims” will be aired later this month in North Carolina and e-mailed to between 3 and 7 million conservatives this week, with a plea for more funding to further spread the message. “All of the efforts I have ever done in my life have been significantly funded,” Brown claimed, though he declined to describe the size of the purchase. “This is going to be the most Internet-intensive effort for an ad debut ever.”

The new ad recounts the deaths of three Chicago residents in 2001 at the hands of criminal gangs. “That same year, a Chicago state senator named Barack Obama voted against expanding the death penalty for gang-related murders,” an ominous female narrator intones. “So the question is, can a man so weak in the war on gangs be trusted in the war on terror?”

Brown is funding the initial ad campaign through a political action committee called the National Campaign Fund, which had $14,027 in the bank at the end of March. Brown said he had established several other front groups to fund a long-range effort to erode Obama’s support, including a second PAC, called The Legacy Committee, a 527 organization called Citizens for a Safe and Prosperous America and a so-called “social welfare” 501(c)4 nonprofit called the Policy Issues Institute.

Here’s the ad:

[Fri 4/25/08 – 12:30 AM Update: Here’s another link to the “Victims” ad, since the above embedded copy was yanked from YouTube (thanks to GWR for the heads up).]

It’s a legitimate attack on Obama’s legislative record that can and should be debated, but, of course, this criticism should be off limits, too, according to the Obama campaign:

Floyd Brown and the garbage he puts on TV represent everything the American people hate about politics, and we look forward to John McCain denouncing this shameful effort to boost his candidacy using Willie Horton ads. The truth is, Barack Obama supports the death penalty for certain heinous crimes, and he led the effort to reform the death penalty system to ensure that it’s administered fairly and that convictions stand in court. Since most gang-related murders already qualified for the death penalty in Illinois, the legislation in the ad wasn’t designed to be tough on crime, but to score political points, and it was vetoed by a Republican governor. If Floyd Brown and his right-wing allies want to talk about who keep us safer in the world, they can start by asking John McCain why he refuses to end a war in Iraq that has only strengthened the recruiting arm of al Qaeda.

As usual, only a quick nod to the issue itself before the Obama campaign quickly tries to shift the focus to the issue which gains him the most traction amongst his supporters, Iraq. Let’s review the statement, though – specifically the claim that it is a “Willie Horton” ad. First, here’s the 1988 Horton ad a conservative PAC ran against Mike Dukakis:

Here’s a brief outline of who Willie Horton is and the crimes he committed.

Since Horton was black, the DNC cried “racism!!!” like they always do – and they did it in an effort to deflect from the fact that the ad was right on in depicting Dukakis as weak on crime: thanks to Mike Dukakis, Horton (who was already serving a life sentence for murder) was free on a weekend pass and he used it to kidnap a couple, viciously assaulting the man and repeatedly raping the man’s girlfriend.

But let’s just assume for purposes of discussion that the Horton ad was racist. Then go back and view the “Victims” ad both Time and the Obama campaign called another Willie Horton ad. You’ll note that in the ad itself you see no pictures, but it does mention the names of the victims, and two of the three of them are minorities (I assume so by their names): Tamika McFadden-Harris and Severo Enriquez. So the ad is talking about victims of gang violence in Chicago – among them, two minorities – yet we’re supposed to believe it’s “another Willie Horton ad”? Only in a world where the legislative record of a liberal Democrat political candidate shouldn’t be questioned …

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