The McCain campaign has initiated a new, two-pronged attack, using prongs that should have been sharpened and brandished quite some time ago.
The McCain-Palin ticket appears finally to have been jarred awake by the prospect of humiliating defeat and begun going public with what I think are Barack Obama’s biggest exploitable weaknesses: the bad company he keeps, and his fumbling of Fannie and Freddie.
Details, analysis, and links galore below the break.
First, the prong which I touched on earlier (a bit clumsily in my coverage of the liveblog of Sarah Palin’s Carson speech) is to harp on Obama’s past associations with decidedly shady characters; associations he has yet to explain to the satisfaction of reasonable critics (note to comment trolls: I said “reasonable,” people!). In her Carson speech and at subsequent rallies, Gov. Palin repeatedly goaded Barack Obama on his past relationship with serial bomber and Weatherman terrorist Bill Ayers. Clearly the Obama campaign had thought they’d put this potential problem behind them, as campaign chief David Axelrod and communications chief Robert Gibbs went on CNN this morning to claim that Ayers’s past with the Weather Underground was unknown to him; if they’d seen this coming, they’d have come up with something a little less lame.
Now, let’s stretch credulity to its snapping point and give Sen. Obama the benefit of the doubt that he didn’t know anything about Ayers’s past, at least at that very first event hosted by Ayers at his home to boost Obama for State Senate in 1995. (Highly unlikely, given that Ayers is a local folk celebrity in Chicago, and of course given their previous collaboration on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge.) A quick trip to the library — the Web was still in its infancy — would have raised a red flag fairly quickly for any halfway-decent background checker on his campaign staff, after which one would expect the venue to change very discretely. Also unexplained is Obama’s continued association with Ayers in politics, community activism, and academia, even after he must have known about Ayers (who became an omnipresent news subject leading up to the Democrats’ 1996 convention in Chicago). Even as recently as 2007, he was invited to an academic conference organized by Michelle Obama and featuring Barack Obama. Does Ayers have so much to offer that Barack Obama will risk working with, being seen with, and accepting money from a known unrepentant terrorist?
(Keep in mind the almost entirely unmined mother lode that is convict, slumlord, fraudster, extortionist, and major Obama benefactor Tony Rezko.)
The second prong now fully unsheathed is one over which I and countless others have been banging our heads against the wall wondering why John McCain has been so quiet about it: the contrast between McCain’s efforts to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and Obama’s years of sitting on his hands while lobbyists for Fannie and Freddie pumped extravagant sums of money into his campaign chest. Today in Albuquerque Sen. McCain laced into Obama for fiddling while Fannie and Freddie burned.
The interesting part, though, was the Obama campaign’s reaction: they released a 13-minute video about McCain’s connection to the Keating Five scandal. Yes, the “scandal” in which McCain was cleared of wrongdoing. Two decades ago. (And yes, a 13-minute video, which nobody except people who already hate John McCain will watch.) As Moe Lane remarks, this one’s been done to death over the years so I won’t go through the particulars here, but suffice it to say that Barack Obama himself clearly puts little to no stock in the Keating charge. You only need look toward the pro-Obama Springsteen concert in Ohio just yesterday, in which The Boss was introduced by a stump speech delivered by former senator John Glenn, McCain’s fellow target in the Keating Five probe and the only target besides McCain to be cleared by the Senate Ethics Committee.
Both of these prongs coming to light now are sure precursors to McCain’s planned subject matter tomorrow at the debate. It will be interesting to see how Obama tries to deflect them; he’d be well advised to improve mightily on the job he’s done so far, which has made him and his campaign look like a bunch of amateurs. (Shameless plug: And don’t miss the liveblog!)