Newsweek’s Evan Thomas and Richard Wolffe wrote a piece this past weekend that sounded like something you’d find emphasized in the Obama campaign’s talking points handbook. Essentially, the piece talked about how the Obama camp would be prepared to counter the GOP’s “smear tactics,” implying that using such tactics, including the use of proxies in 527s to defeat opponents, was the only way the GOP knew how to win. The piece also suggests that legitimate issues, like Hamas’ endorsement of Senator Obama, are vicious “smears” against the rookie Senator from Illinois, a sentiment Obama apparently agrees with.
McCain adviser Mark Salter is fighting back against this blatantly one-sided piece, and the response is posted at Newsweek. Here’s a little bit of it:
Suggesting that that we can expect a whispering campaign from the McCain campaign or the Republican Party about Senator Obama’s race and the false charge that he is a Muslim is scurrilous. Has John McCain ever campaigned that way? On the contrary, he has on numerous occasions denounced tactics offensive tactics from campaigns, 527s and others, both Democratic and Republican. By the way, which party had more 527 and other independent expenditure ads made on its behalf in 2004? It wasn’t us.
By accepting the Obama campaign construct as if it were objective, Evan and Richard framed this race exactly as Senator Obama wants it to be framed â€“ every issue that raises doubts about his policy views and judgment is part of a smear campaign intended to distract voters from the real issues at stake in the election, and, thus, illegitimate. And even if Senator McCain might not be inclined to support such advertising, if he can’t stop them from occurring then he will have succumbed to the temptation to put ambition before principle. How this notion could appear credible after MoveOn, the AFL-CIO and the DNC launched negative ad campaigns weeks ago, and after leaks from the Obama campaign that they would soon start running negative ads against McCain, is mystifying. When a conservative talk show host emphasized Senator Obama’s middle name, Senator McCain immediately denounced it himself in the strongest possible terms. When a left wing radio host called Senator McCain a “warmonger;” when Senator Rockefeller disparaged Senator McCain’s war record; and when Howard Dean consistently accused Senator McCain of corruption, dishonesty and various other smears, the response from the Obama campaign has been either silence or a spokesperson releases an anodyne statement saying they don’t agree with the characterization.
To see how completely Evan and Richard have accepted the Obama campaign spin look at the example of an illegitimate smear they cite: Senator McCain raising the Hamas spokesman’s comments welcoming Obama’s election. The Senator has never said that Senator Obama shares Hamas’ goals or values or proposed a relationship with Hamas different than the one he would propose. On the contrary, he publicly acknowledged that he doesn’t believe Senator Obama. He did note that there must be something about Obama’s positions, particularly his repeated insistence that he would meet with the President of Iran (Hamas’s chief state sponsor), that was welcomed by Hamas. Imagine if a right wing death squad spokesman announced that they welcomed McCain’s election. Would Evan or Richard treat that as an illegitimate issue or would they examine which of McCain’s stated positions might have found favor with the terrorists? That seems obvious on its face to me. Rather than argue that his position on Iran is the right one and has no bearing on how Hamas views him, Senator Obama makes a false charge that we accused him of advocating a different relationship with Hamas than Senator McCain’s supports. His false characterization of Senator McCain’s statement was accepted uncritically by Evan and Richard.
Democratic Party allied third parties have announced negative ad campaigns, which distort McCain’s statements and positions, in the hundreds of millions of dollars. They are already running them. Senator Obama himself and Democrats generally have taken out of context and distorted Senator McCain’s statements on a post war military presence in Iraq and his views on the economy. Our townhalls are now routinely salted with Obama supporters who are there to raise embarrassing questions for the Senator (we don’t screen people at our events). An Obama supporter asked him in Iowa if he called his wife a very vulgar name.
Read the rest here.